We have returned to the place where first visited decades ago, back then drawn by a desperate need for a bed and food after wandering around the mountains for days, sleeping in tents and eating freeze dried food. Back then we stumbled upon Snowbird Mountain Lodge by accident after dark, fairly late at night, to find the dining room had closed. The kind inn keeper fed us anyway and gave us the last room available, a tiny closet in the far corner of an outside building away from the lodge, now a utility closet. The next morning our sack lunches were packed and ready for us to pick up to take on our journey for the day. Our stay had been brief but we had felt the strong healing spirit of this place then and it made for the best of brief memories. Decades forward we are here again, a new inn keeper is in charge, the place has changed little, and the spirit that induces rest, is still here.
Anytime I leave the farm, the animals, and all of the daily responsibilities that tie me to the place and my way of daily life, it is hard. As the deadline to leave gets closer I feel my stress levels rising in anticipation of all of the possible things that can go wrong while I am away and spend my time trying to find ways to divert their happening, or if they do, I leave numbers and instructions on how to deal with the situation. It is a pointless waste of my energy but it can’t be helped. I can not stop that which might happen despite my wishes and best efforts to counteract them. At some point I have to realize that the only thing left to do is to pack my things, and leave. On Saturday, we did.
We drove north, by north east, stopping by a water fall in north Alabama on the Little River. This not so tiny river flowed through a deep canyon which had been carving out the rocky sides for centuries. Now a National Reserve it has been made more access able to those who aren’t so adventurous to climb down slippery trails to get to see the beauty of the place. Above the falls on the flat slow moving water with scattered deeper pools families were enjoying the cool water, children splashed, and adults basked on the rocks.
They were sitting on an uplifted geological story book. The hard rock that I stood on had obviously been many things in the time since it began to be. Layer by layer it had been formed and in each layer the story of its incarnation was revealed. The lower levels of this sedimentary book showed primitive shells of varying types and shapes of a time when this ground was under ocean water. A strata above that showed evidence of fallen trees and acorns or some type of round nuts imbedded into what was then perhaps a marshy forrested place. Each layer was different and laden with different clues as to what changes this ground had seen. Now it was a massive rock formation which defined a fall line and was the precipice for the water fall that we had come to see. The air rising off the falling water was cool and refreshing in stark comparison to the feeling in the parking lot which was thick, hot, and damp. We got in the air conditioned car and drove on.
Mark was scheduled to teach a workshop at Snowbird Lodge for the week ahead. Our check in was Sunday night, and so we headed towards the cooler mountains, and the place we were revisiting, again. It was my birthday, again, and having this destination as the place to be spending and celebrating the occasion at, made the day’s driving a gift in it self.
Over the course of the day I had occasionally checked my phone to see if all was well back at the farm, and was amazed at the kind good wishes for a happy birthday on my FaceBook thing. It really was a bit humbling to find so many had even noticed, and had responded to the FB alert and so many had sent a plethora of sweet messages. Most of my days are spent in semi hermit like reclusion, not because I don’t care to be around folks, its just that maintaining the farm, riding the horses, and such take a lot of time and we live a good ways from town. There are many days where I feel a bit alone and friendless, so to find such an overwhelming bunch of happy birthday wishes was wonderful and a very nice gift to have received from all. Top that off with a week ahead at Snowbird, it was the icing and the candle complete.
There is always a magical feeling when we drive into the narrow drive at the bottom of the hill on which the lodge is sited. The open road gives way to deep shade and then suddenly bright green colors appear in a vivid and shocking glow from the trees above and the bright mosses on the ground below. A tiny stream meanders from the right, under the road, and disappears around the curve of the hill. There is small house shaped box to the left which looks all the while like a troll might peek from behind it and demand a toll, but hasn’t yet. With a turn to the left the car strains to rise up the steep drive, and once out of the car at the top the gravel crunches softly under my feet as I walk to take in the mountain view. My shoulders always drop with a big sigh, and for here and now, life is good.
In the pattern of the Neal Simon play where Alan Alda and the actress, whose name I can’t remember just now, met at a lodge each year for a weekend together, each time being a scene of their lives together at this place, we caught up with our friends that we had met here many years ago and again, renewed our friendships over wine and dinner. Afterwards I was brought a hunk of chocolate yumminess with a single candle on it and I blew it out, but forgot to make a wish. A good night cap and a game of dominoes and we called it a night and fell into a deep sleep. It was an excellent birthday and great start to a week ahead.
Mark is teaching his workshop now while I take the luxury of time to write and enjoy the lack of responsibility of doing absolutely anything. It is a tough job, but somebody has got to do it. I am just glad it is me. Life will have its say when I get home as it always does, but for now, older and questionably wiser, I am relaxing.