The rest of October will be spent traveling for me. I always look forward to trips and contemplate on the new experiences I'll have, the fascinating things I'll see, and the interesting people I'll meet along the way. Part of my travel time will be spent in Honduras where my daughter lives. Even though I have now lost count of the times I've visited this "adopted country," I still look forward to visiting every year because each trip brings a new exposure that I didn't have the year before.
When the plane is approximately 15 seconds away from touching down, the tiny huts built into the hillsides come clearly into view and I recognize nothing that is familiar as I do when I come into Atlanta upon my return. The little houses are colorful and close together, representing so very well the people who make Honduras their home. It is a close-knit people but, in spite of the language barrier, I have always felt so very welcomed. Of course, my Hollie has gone before me and I ride the coattails of her reputation that she has built in this foreign land (AND her fluency in Spanish!). I am well-received by virtue of the fact I am her mother. The family unit in Honduras holds parents in high regard and we in the USA could definitely learn something from the Hondurans on that. It's always a joy to experience their culture and to have a tiny glimpse into my daughter's world and the life she has created there with her little family. I will not be able to blog much from there (if at all) because the internet isn't reliable to say the least, but I always return home with great inspiration upon which I draw for future blog posts. Technology is quite a few years behind there, but the slower pace of life more than makes up for that. Is living without the internet sometimes really that hard? Some would say yes, of course. But I've found from experience that it really isn't. We are forced to slow down, accept a bit of the unknown, and find things absent of technology to focus our attentions upon. Like the great outdoors. And people. And new adventures.
Even when I travel just short distances, whether it's to the beach or the mountains or to visit family in a neighboring town, I find inspiration in travel. To experience new things and to see the world from a different perspective makes traveling my number one source of inspiration. Viewing the planet from my little corner of the world will only suffice for so "long," then my "longing" to travel comes on like a terrible thirst that will only be quenched with a trip! To travel is to learn, to grow, to experience, to see, to conquer, and to coexist with others who are different, in places that are totally unfamiliar. To be in a new place you know nothing about forces you to call upon your adventurous spirit and your will to survive. Traveling is the best way to extend your personal borders, go beyond your personal comforts, to learn tolerance for those who are not like you, and literally see the world one town, one village, one geographical pinpoint at a time.
Sooo...if you don't hear from me for awhile, no worries. I'll be taking my turn on the hammock with the beautiful Honduran hillside in my rearview.
FYI: No one was injured (persons, that is) over the weekend I am about to reference, and names have been left out to protect the innocent.
It started a few weeks ago when my good friend informed me that her brother had found a five-foot snake skin on the kitchen floor of their vacation home in Blue Ridge. This is where we go every fall for a girls' getaway, so we went back and forth about what we should do. Is the snake still in there and could it still be there when we arrive for our weekend? Exactly what kind of snake was it and how did it get in the house? Is there any way it could be lodged under the beds lying in wait? We simply could not get past the uncertainty of a snake being in the house. I mean, who can sleep with that on their minds? Through much discussion we decided to re-route the trip through Jasper and stay at our friend's mother's house in Big Canoe. No worries, it's a very nice house with all the amenities you could want, nestled in the deep woods of the North Georgia foothills with a huge stone fireplace and plush living room where we could gather to relax and catch up. We were so excited. The plans were simple: to hunker down in the cabin some, take a daytrip over to Blue Ridge for our usual shopping and sightseeing, and have a weekend of laughing and gabbing since our last trip in the spring. Our sweet friend who hosted the weekend even cooked for us...yummy chicken on the grill, roasted veggies, white chicken chili, apple crumble... She had chilled wine in the fridge and a bowl of chocolates on the kitchen island. Almost paradise.
But somehow plans seem to take a turn when unexpected visitors have shown up, continue to show up, and totally outstay their welcome. When we arrived at the cabin, much to our alarm a bear had attempted to check in prior to us and had pushed through the screened door, across the porch and through the next screened door. We surmised that he had smelled burned residue from the gas grill and went in search of food. I guess the little guy was hungry. If we hadn't seen the paw prints on the screen, we would have been left to our own imaginations as to what possibly could've happened to that torn screen and even second-guessed ourselves as to whether it really was a bear. But there was the paw print, clear as day. And if the paw print wasn't enough, there was a pile of bear scat next to the walkway. In my opinion it looked like a big bear, but what do I know about bear excrement? I felt like we had gone from the frying pan of snake-fear into the fire of bear-fear, if you know what I mean. But, hey, we know bears are up in them thar hills, and it's not like we were in a tent with a piece of thin waterproof fabric between us. I mean, this is a beautiful cabin with solid walls and secure windows and doors. We were safe within from the critters without. No worries.
That is until we saw the mouse. One of us saw it first and, to her annoyance, the rest of us weren't quite sure if she had really seen a mouse or if she was in a semi food-induced coma from our meal and the late hour. Until I myself saw the mouse. It skedaddled across the floor and jolted me from my dozing in and out on the sofa to the reality of what appears to be a common occurrence of bunking in the woods. I have never seen grown women squeal and jump around the room like we did. Then all feet went off the floor and we put our heads together to see how we, four level-headed women who had overcome their instinct to bolt to the car to sleep, could conquer this enemy of roughly three inches (including the tail) and weighing in about three ounces. It is amazing a room can go from quiet chitchat to high-pitched frantic expletives when a mouse shows up. I'm sure that little guy left a trail of pee from the shrieking (you know they do that, right, -- leave a trail of pee I mean -- I learned that this weekend). Our friend who was hosting hustled to find mouse traps and expertly placed them in strategic positions to attract the little devil and trap him when he appeared again, for he had slipped into a small crack in the fireplace hearth. The sheer fact that there was an assortment of mouse traps readily available in the cabin was enough to make this gal very uneasy. Hands down, it was evident that they'd had these visitors before. As we finally went to bed around 2:00 a.m., he decided to emerge right onto the sticky rodent pad and we left him there to die alone in the night. So sad, but so very necessary.
To our disappointment, he was still alive the next morning. It was quite pitiful as he struggled to free himself and once more we were in a dilemma as to what to do. I do not like mice, but my heart hurt a little for him. In my years as a wife, mother, grandmother, and brave woman of the world, I have never killed a mouse and I am NOT about to begin now. So we did what any sane women would do. We put a bowl over him, weighed it down with a flashlight, and went about our day. Which was a lovely day I might add, until we got back to the cabin that night and found another mouse on the pad next to the first one (also stuck and also trying to break free), and we promptly covered him up with a bowl as well. Dirty work done. We would leave them there to die together. At least they wouldn't die alone now. When I think about how we walked around those bowls on the floor stuck to the rodent pads and how secure we felt simply because they were trapped, I chuckle about our false sense of security. For all we knew, there could've been dozens of mice that came out of the woodwork to scurry around our beds at night. But, hey, the ones we could see were contained, and that's all that really mattered! Now is the time I might add that one of our cabin-mates didn't seem to be bothered as much by our fuzzy friends. She had once killed a rattlesnake in her garage when she was a single mom, so nothing -- I mean nothing -- could compare to that act of valiance, and we applauded her for her bravery. But somehow having her there did not give me the peace I was looking for. Just like the insecurity of the snake, could there be other toe-nipping rodents lurking nearby, or were we in the clear?
On the last night of our trip, we had an uneventful evening and ended our weekend with a movie by our makeshift mouse grave (only because it was near the TV). Our hostess along with our friend of valor (aka, the snake lady) scooped up the mousal carnage and took it outside to place our unwelcomed visitors in their final resting place. But, alas, they lived on under the bowls and, much to their dismay, these determined women were forced to bring the even more determined mice to their final rest. For you mice-loving folks out there if you exist, I will not say how they did this, but there's something you must understand...we were desperate. When they came in and told us that finally, once and for all, the mice were dead I thought to myself Who are these gallant creatures and what have they done with our friends? I simply could not believe how they were brave enough to do such a gruesome task late at night on the top of a mountain in the middle of bear country. But all I knew was my third friend and I (the two oldest in the group by nine years) did NOT have to kill mice over the weekend and that is simply all I cared about. After all, being the eldest of the group should carry some benefit, right?
We cut our weekend short by a day. I think I was just too exhausted to deal with another critter and wanted to go home and sleep in the security of my own bed, free from the fear of snakes, bears, and furry little toe-nippers. I rested like a champ.
The moral of this story:
1. Never, ever use the sticky pad mouse traps. They are a bit inhumane and if you have any compassion in your heart for God's little creatures, even if they are God's annoying little creatures, do it the quick and emotionally painless way (well, mostly).
2. Never underestimate the power of women when they band together. If there is a group of women who are on a mission, no matter how scary or hard it might be, they will -- repeat will -- get it done.
3. Always remember to use your seniority to achieve the outcome you desire, even if it is selfish.
And especially if you, like me, are a big fat chicken.
Some of my very best memories of our children growing up are the vacations we took along the way. I was not working at the time except as a domestic engineer and the pay was pitiful in monetary rewards but it was truly great in blessings! So we were never guaranteed a yearly vacation, but somehow hubby always seemed to put together the funds needed to take a long weekend most years to the beach in the spring and to the mountains in the fall. I will always be grateful for that because those vacations linger in my heart as some of our very best family treasures. I will never, ever forget the excitement as we planned our trips, with the main attraction of "beach-bumming" when we went to the shore and "leaf-gazing" when we headed north in the cooler months.
I associate certain milestones in the life of my girls with some of those trips. I remember the trip to Clayton, Georgia where Hollie shaved her legs for the very first time. I remember when she finally gave in to her curls at the beach the summer she was 12 and decided if she was ever gonna embrace her curly hair, the beach was where it should happen, and she never looked back. I remember how fearless Abbie was as she played in the ocean, made friends with strangers, and how she was always up for an amusement park ride of any kind. If you passed a roadside carnival or there was a boardwalk on the beach, she was always begging her dad to pull over and let her ride! Abbie always had a way of getting what she wanted with that little pouty face. She hasn't changed at all. One memory that stands out in my mind is when we were staying at the Hilton on the beach one year and a repairman came right through our door without knocking first. We found that quite unacceptable and reported our displeasure to the front office. Later that day we found the most delightful basket of goodies waiting for us in our room in an apologetic effort by the management to set things right. The basket had little Babybel cheeses in it and started a tradition that year with Babybel cheese being included on our snack list every vacation thereafter. I remember us laughing as we peeled back the red wax and sank our teeth into those buttery circles. Money was usually pretty tight, so we have a standing joke about how I always had to purchase sunglasses when we got to the beach because I couldn't find mine. This was a source of irritation for the hubs and he was always stressed out for a couple of days before he slipped into that soft, lazy vacation mode we all love. Why it took him so long, I'll never know. I can switch to vacation mode in a crazy New York minute.
I guess now since the weather has gotten cooler and it's officially autumn and everyone is turning their attention to fall excursions, I think about my girls and all the trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee we took in October. Just the smell of burgers and grilled onions is enough to evoke nostalgia in me when the weather cools off. I remember wrapping up in a cozy sweater and strolling the streets of Gatlinburg weaving in and out of shops, stopping to get a bite to eat at one of the curbside vendors, followed by a powdered apple-cider donut and coffee. I'll never forget stopping between Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg to ooh and ahh at the gorgeous scenery over the mountain range and to take pictures. And one of my favorite mountain memories I have is when we stayed at a particular hotel one year which was a high-rise and we ended up staying somewhere on the eighth or ninth floor. Now, I don't like staying higher than the third floor in the case of a fire, but the hotel was full and couldn't give us a choice. Somehow I just feel safer a bit closer to the ground! But looking down on the lobby from our tree-top perch, I'll never forget what Hollie said. "Hey, mom, if there's a fire, I'll just jump and land right there on that sofa!" She hasn't changed much either...always the one with lofty ambitions. I don't get to take trips much with my girls anymore; when I do, it's a precious thing. Every so often the opportunity arises when we find ourselves planning a little rendezvous. Sometimes I go to Houston to see Abbie, sometimes I go to Honduras to see Hollie, and they both come here several times a year but not always at the same time. Occasionally we have the rare chance to meet up all together somewhere, and that is beyond my happy place! Hollie has promised me a trip to Italy one day and, by golly, I'm holding her to that one! But every single fall (I think I've missed one fall in 25 years), I look forward to my annual girls' trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia and this is where we go back in time to the younger years. We never feel more alive than in Blue Ridge in the fall. Somehow our children have morphed into grandchildren, but we continue to feed our childlike persona. We eat apple-cider donuts and fried apple pies and candy if we want; we go to movies and eat popcorn, play games and laugh as loud as we want. A couple of us are even brave enough to go down the hill in front of the old homestead on a slide (that would NOT be me, as I like being safe more than I like being brave...no judging allowed). But as in times past, our main focus is on the beautiful scenery of the North Georgia foothills.
Whether it's with your family or your best pals, I wish you a trip this season to see red, gold, and orange dangling from big ol' majestic oak branches or a tiny sugar maple on fire with splendor. I wish you a caramel apple or fried pie or corndog with mustard as you stroll the causeway of a state fair in your cowgirl boots, remembering great days past while planning for new ones. I wish you the smell of an open fire burning hickory logs and dry leaves crunching under those boots. I wish you a chilly pink nose and fleece-lined gloves and a super-cute infinity scarf to tie it all together. Really. I love infinity scarves.
But most of all, I wish you the joy that searching for autumn glory brings.
Love. Georgia. Falls.
Blue Ridge, here I come.
Posted by CC
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