family vacations

Every summer my family went to the same inn at the beach, usually the same week and generally with the same group of people. My brother and I looked forward to this almost like Christmas. It was basically the one week we saw both our parents consistently, unrushed, relaxed.

It was great.

Eight or nine years ago my brother decided to restart this tradition with his family, inviting me to join them. There is only one inn left at this beach, the one where we always stayed blew down in a hurricane about 30 years ago. We still look forward to this.

So I decided I’d show off some North Carolina wines this time. Aside from communion wine on Sunday I don’t drink much but maybe someone will. I had taken my son to a local vineyard for lunch on one of his visits a year or so ago and he enjoyed it. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I piled in the car late Tuesday morning after a heavy rainstorm. I figured it was over.

I figured wrong.

It’s about an hour’s drive to this winery and I could barely see as I drove. Thankfully not many people were taking their chances so we arrived unscathed. I bought some wine, got back in my car galvanized for the return trip though at this point it had stopped raining.

Picture0810171645_1.jpg* one of the recommended wines *

On my drive home I realized how much I will miss Lily and Lulu. This is not a pet friendly place and I kept telling myself it’s only one week, if I leave late enough and come home early enough it’s really only 6 days. I know one year a lady whose family had been going to this inn for years convinced the proprietors to allow her to bring her ancient chihuahua that she was giving fluids to each day. They allowed it but others at the inn were not so happy complaining it would set a precedent, whatever. Personally I thought it was wonderful that they allowed her to do this. I saw this little dog. Unless you knew she had him you’d never even know he was there.

Some friends tried to convince me to get therapy dog vests. That way my dogs could go with me everywhere. They’d love it! Apparently you don’t have to train your dog, you don’t even need to have a condition that warrants a therapy dog. Not even a doctor’s explanation. You can just buy these vests online. This is something I could not do though. I couldn’t live with myself, not just myself being a fraud, but dragging my dogs into the deception?

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Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So I will wait until the last possible moment to take them to their vacation spot before I go to mine. My brother and his family are driving from Texas. About 18 hours compared to my 2-hour drive. Then my son plans to join us on Tuesday. Though predicted to stay offshore, that’s also just about the same time the tropical storm is scheduled to arrive.

Maybe I will have some of that wine…..

 

 

 

simple gifts

As I began the slow climb up the mountain Aaron Copland’s “Simple Gifts” played on the car radio. Appalachian Spring is a favorite composition of mine. . .  “‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free, ’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ”twill be in the valley of love and delight… ”

I thought of a favorite author, Ann Voskamp’s book “1,000 Gifts” where she found herself at a place I reach occasionally… I can no longer see beauty for the mundane I have built in my own presupposition. So in her book Ann seeks to find gratitude in the hard, unpleasant times in her life. She finds beauty in the angry, strength in the weak. She finds God in her gratitude when she would perhaps find discouragement, instead finds courage.

So I became overwhelmed by that which I had lost sight of, what I failed to notice… rescue dog Lulu tickling me with her whiskers when she hopes to be noticed. Rescue dog Lily slathering my face with a slobbery kiss. Birdsong echoing in the pine thicket where my dogs and I walk at sunrise during summer. Tiny frogs in the eave of my house croaking loudly after a rainstorm. Puddle shimmers on the walkway reflecting under the porch ceiling. The sun gleaming on pine needles. Water droplets edged on grape leaves like tiny crystals.

During my time away I relished the sound of lively conversation and laughter among random small groups chatting happily on the lodge veranda. The gentle creak of rocking chairs as I watched a deer delicately pick her way along the edge of the woods munching leaves. The soft hum of crickets outside my open window where rainwashed, cool fresh air gently blew over my toes. Up the mountain the clouds hovered just below the peaks, hugging the light mist that floated below them. Plodding up each switchback I offered to God my challenges, cares, fears, and a few  tears. I thanked Him as I walked down the mountain, for the answers He would bring, for the comfort I already knew, for the peace over that which I cannot control.

Hope is a simple gift of the heart. It grows through faith and through my answered prayer. When allowed its freedom hope is indomitable, strengthening, comforting, and offers freedom from whatever tries to contain me. I can overcome it, whatever it is.

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Thank You God.

— Shaker lyrics, “Simple Gifts” written by Elder Joseph Brackett, 1848