Thursday, July 20, 2023

Summer In The Mountains

Our property sits within the boundaries of George Washington National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town, if you can even call it that, is known as a "census recognized area". We are less than a ten minute drive from The Blue Ridge Parkway and The Appalachian Trail. The population, as of 2020, is 174, but including us you can now add 3 to that number, at least. As a friend of mine said recently, "The people who live here are only here because they want to be", and I'd say that about sums it up. We can't even boast a Dollar General or a Dairy Queen. There are two small convienience stores within about a five to ten minute drive from our house, but for anything else you have to drive 30-45 minutes to reach a town large enough to even catch Walmart's attention. Life here is small, quaint and slow, and we love it!

The pictures I am including in this post are of a local swimming hole that is about ten minutes from our front door. We've visited here often this summer, though we do more wading than swimming. I haven't braved that yet. There are a few picnic tables here as well, though they are very popular with tourists and usually taken, so we'll have to time it right if we want to picnic here ourselves.

The stepping stones you see in the picture to the left are actually part of a trail that winds around and above this area. We have it on our bucket list of things to do before the end of the season, which is passing quickly this year. It's hard for me to believe that we are nearing the end of July, and to be honest, it makes me a little sad. It's not like me to be such a fan of summer, but this year, I'm really enjoying it.

Maybe it's because, so far, the temperatures here have been so pleasant. There have only been a few days that we've slipped into the 90's, and only one of those days was what I would consider particularly hot. That was this past Saturday when we were attending a festival in the area. We had a blast, but it was hot! Even on days when the temperatures climb into the upper 80's and the humidity is high, usually by nightfall we are in the 70's again and by early morning it is usually down into the mid 60's. I think there's only been one night that we haven't turned off the AC. There is just nothing like sleeping with the windows open, at least, not for me.

Being in the mountains keeps the temperatures lower as well, even at lower elevations. Just a few miles up the parkway the difference in the heat and humidity is quite noticeable. We've gone hiking several times already this summer, and it always amazes me how much cooler it is, especially in the shade.

But even more than the cooler temperatures we've enjoyed this year, I think the thing that I love the most is the pace we're living at. I was determined to try to slow things down in this season, and so far we've been successful.  Our little garden, which is comprised of three different varieties of tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and bell peppers is producing nicely. I was disappointed at first, when we were not able to do more because of my sciatic nerve pain. But now I think it ended up being exactly what we needed in this season, at least for this year. I do want to try to do more next spring, so we'll see. This is our first experience with raised beds, and mountain gardening, and we've learned a lot. My biggest concern was the possibility of bear or deer eating our crops, and while we have had a black bear come through our property several times this spring/summer, so far he's completely ignored the garden. We suspect he has knowledge of another reliable food source, primarily a neighbor who has a tendency to throw out food scraps! At any rate, while he uses our yard as his pathway, thankfully it appears he has no other interest.

That's about as much excitement as we've had this summer. I had plans to rework my daily cleaning routines, but I've decided to put that off for at least another couple of weeks and get back to it towards the end of August. So much of it is engrained in me, I really don't have to think about it much, it just happens. But I've given myself the freedom to let things go a little this summer, as well. So while I may not get to everything I typically would in a week's time, somehow it all gets done.  I've done a little baking, most recently a lovely spiced chocolate zucchini bread that I found on Elizabeth's blog. This is my third time using this recipe, and I've decided it's my favorite! If you're not familiar with her offerings I would encourage you to spend some time there, she's a girl after my own heart. I've also done a little canning, three small jars of strawberry jam and three cherry that I just made up yesterday. Now I'm looking at a couple of recipes for fig jam that I hope to make next week, and with all the tomatoes and jalapenos coming in, I need to make some salsa, and perhaps a few more jars of cowboy candy. A little here, a little there, and pretty soon it all adds up to a nice little larder to carry our family through until next year. I'm already dreaming!

As I close I wanted to leave you with this quote from Gladys Taber. She has long been a favorite, and I've been reading a passage here and there from several of her books recently.

"A time of quietude brings things into proportion and give us strength. We all need to take time from the busyness of living, even if it be only a few minutes to watch the sun go down or the city lights blossom against a canyoned sky. We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach toward the infinite. Time to be."

I hope your taking some time for quiet in this season, my friends, and as Gladys says, if only for a few minutes! I'll be back here again to visit with you soon!

Until then, savor the fleeting summer days!


Anonymous said...

I bet you are loving summer in the mountains; we sure do! Gladys Tabor is a favorite of mine as well.


Kimberly Lottman said...

Pam, there is nothing like it! And yes, I just love Gladys! <3