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Small Town Afternoon

Self Portrait

By choice, we live in a county without a Wal-Mart, movie theater, Starbucks, or shopping mall. A typical Saturday afternoon for us may differ from the average American household — and that’s just fine since none of those things hold our interest for very long anyway.

Last Saturday, we headed for the Pine Mountain Trail in Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park. I grabbed my camera, a hoodie, bottled water, and a bag of pistachios. Josh drove with the windows down and “A Country Boy Can Survive” played on the radio causing the dashboard to hum with the twang of guitar. A sea of Georgia pines lining the road blurred in the side mirror as we bounced along the back roads and I had my hand out the window like I’d done as a kid. When you cup your hand in the wind just-so, it feels like there’s a cool sponge in your hand.

I can plow a field all day long, I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn… sang Hank Williams, Jr. as I watched the power lines and mailboxes disappear as we drove on toward the small town of Hamilton.

Wisps of my hair which had pulled loose from my ponytail whipped around my face and I noticed loose dogs coming out in the road behind us.  There aren’t any leash laws in our county, either.  The dogs were trotting around the smudge of roadkill where painted yellow lines might have been if this road led to anything other than another back country road.  Their tails wagged and I watched them roll — gleefully — one at a time.

We came from the West Virginia coal mines, And the Rocky Mountains and the western skies
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot-line, And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive…

Then I saw it.  Standing in the ditch chomping on the newly sprouted spring grass having escaped the confines of a fully-fenced field stood a woolly bearded buck.

“Goat!  Goat!  There’s a goat!”  I yelled to Josh excitedly, as if it were the single greatest discovery of the past four centuries — better than vaccines, refrigeration, bifocal lenses, Swedish foam mattresses, or the electric light bulb.

He looked at me and we both burst out laughing.  Gosh, it was good to sit comfortably on the bench seat of a truck with the clouds just rolling away overhead and the countryside blowing by… just cracking up.  Before long, we’d passed through Hamilton, Georgia with its charming court square, rusty signs, and classic courthouse.  In a blink, we’d topped the hill to the first overlook of the valley.  Being that I am a bit of an overlook snob (having lived in Virginia and then Washington… well, Georgia mountains just don’t blow my skirt up), I wouldn’t comment on that particular spot except to say that it’s a very nice place to park the car which is basically like writing a review for a gallery and only complimenting the picture frames.

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The trees seemed to lean toward the road creating a tunnel of knobbly scrub pines.  I snapped a few pictures while Josh noted the start of the Pine Mountain Trail for hiking purposes.  Meanwhile, I tried to mentally replace the forest of sickly-looking monotonous pine trees with oak, elm, hickory, birch, poplar, walnut, and maple.  Of course, there were oaks scattered throughout the woods but I was missing the Skyline Drive something fierce.  My heart hungered for Virginia… for home.

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We parked below the main ranger-station-gift-shop-cottage-rental place which simply belonged in the forest with its stone walls, wrought iron lamps, and heavy wooden doors.  The architecture was completely different, of course, but it reminded me of Fallingwater because it worked so well with its surroundings.  Josh inquired about maps while I wandered around lost in thought, relieved that no one seemed to mind my introspective mood.

Favorite Doorknob_2

We drove all over the park: down to the stables with their grassless paddock full of bored trail horses, past unfriendly unsmiling horseback riders (Note: Who can look unhappy on a horse? It’s like frowning on a jet ski… can’t be done), past red dirt trails, glittering puddles, and by campgrounds. As we drove, we discussed the upcoming move and our future. Most married folks would like people to think that their conversations always flow smoothly (as smoothly as our conversation in the truck) but the truth is that those moments are special and while they aren’t uncommon — they are precious.

And so the day ended… a small town afternoon, in a different overlook parking lot (not the unremarkable one). Josh’s hand was in mine and a cool breeze rippled through our shirts as we watched the sun disappear into gray clouds. In that moment, I found the peace I’d been searching for.

  • The Cotton Wife - We’re headed out for an afternoon of fishing after working hard plowing fields all week. Love the country life!ReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - Amen! You gotta have your down time.ReplyCancel

  • anna - I wanted to see the goat!!ReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - I’m not sure what happened to the picture I took of the goat!! When I find it, I’ll post it here… promise!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - sigh…(jealous). Did you say you wanted kids? Because this just reminded me of life before kids. Just to have one day. sigh (again).ReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - Mary: We would love to have kids. We tried adopting but suffered a failed adoption last year. But I do know what you mean… parenting is exhausting.ReplyCancel

  • warren - Hank’s got it right…you were in the proper mindset! Nice pics!ReplyCancel

  • Rosa - Aaahhh, my kind of place! I’d love to spend my Saturdays in that way!

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • Amy - I grew up in Ohio with it’s lush green rolling hills. Thot it was pretty until we moved to the Shenandoah Valley. You are right, can’t replace Skyline Drive.:) Beauty is everywhere you go, just not as majestic as the Blue Ridge Mountains:) Love the sunset pic, awesome!! Even better when it is shared with the one you love!ReplyCancel

  • Aunty Katydid - We spent Saturday chasing plastic turtles. However, Sunday we got time out in the same place, adventuring with the kids around Lake Delano out in FDR State Park.ReplyCancel

  • carrielt - I love driving around the country side. Our land is pretty flat and treeless, but I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Marlene - OMG, was that ever beautiful writing. It put one who is reading right there. Now if only we could be there. You two are blessed indeed and I am glad you found your peace……Love AlwaysReplyCancel

  • Tracie Fulford - We LOVE Roosevelt St. Park! We love cabin #5. Plus, we love our country afternoons without fancy coffee (loved Cotton Wife’s post on this!) or random trips to Target to spend more money. That is what brings us all together, right? The love of all things calm, peaceful, and rural.

    Thanks for the beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • Dianne - Beautiful post, Lacy! And the pictures were wonderful…ReplyCancel

  • Sophie - I like to hike & visit the country a lot , especially the nature,…with my husband in our free time,…love it!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - Our family loves the Skyline Drive too, just something so beautiful about those Blue Ridge mountains. I hope you get to visit them again soon!ReplyCancel

  • CrossView - We do that, too. And we see lots of critters but never a goat. We’ll have to look harder! LOL!

    And we miss hardwoods. There’s nothing like ’em….ReplyCancel

  • Kath - Our down time is taking pictures of the melting snow. We wouldnt make it but two feet on a muddy trail around here.

    Someday soon!

    Great pics!ReplyCancel

  • Petter - Hi. I am a student at NKF (Norges kreative fagskole) and i was wondering if i could use one of your pictures(pines1) in my assignment. I going to make a vinyl cover for a band named the south. i will not profit any money. anyway i hope its ok?ReplyCancel

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