Watching the Purple Martin scouts across the lake confirm spring’s arrival. The remainder of the flock will soon arrive. Three geese (the minimal for a gaggle) have nested on Daddy’s lake this season and, pursuant to regular geese activity, have found swimming and sunning blissful. Buds of Forsythia and cherry blossoms paint the canvas around the farm. The early chill in the air that will segue later into a warm day is the perfect ambience that motivates me to sit and write to readers of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press. Welcome to the latter of you. So nice to add you to our group of friends.
I am still finding notes and cards in my mailbox after Mama’s passing two months ago. How thoughtful! My suite is going to be videoed for documentation purposes so thought it’s time to remove the shrine to my mother of posted sympathy cards, notes and letters on the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church window frame from Savannah, Georgia, that anchors my office. The endearments have been comforting to see every day. However, I am ready to tie a ribbon around the sweet condolences and know the love shared was instrumental in getting through a life passage.
Daddy has not been on a trip in quite a while due to Mama’s illness so instead of spending most of my spring break with house director friends, I invited him to travel with me to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where I have many times enjoyed the generosity of former ambassador Jim Cain and his wife, Helen. Their condo overlooks the most beautiful view of John’s River Gorge with mountains that silhouette breathtaking sunsets. Dining out and watching movies was our main agenda. Visits to Chetola’s pub, Bistro Rica, Six Pence and Sunny Rock challenged my “give up sugar for Lent” intentions. No coffee because for some undetermined reason, I cannot drink coffee without creamer. Creamer has sugar. No bread ~ not too hard. No libations ~ missed on spring break. No dessert ~ arrrgh! No comment! We did, however, enjoy North Carolina trout, shrimp, steak and bacon-wrapped natural figs. Yummy!
With Appalachian State about 15 miles away from Blowing Rock, Daddy had to see the campus. We soaked up the sunshine and expedited to Boone passing tons of mountain laurel and hardwoods with infant buds of green. Perfect timing as the college football team was in their stadium for spring practice with workouts that were broadcasted live on the Jumbotron in the end zone. Great opportunity to spy for Kirby Smart (UGA’s head coach). We’re kidding, of course.
We snuck into Kingsport mid-week for a couple of hours. My sweet friends, Jack and Margaret Mahaffey, are in a life transition and being only two hours away when in the northwest North Carolina mountains, I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to visit. Plus, I had wanted for years for Daddy and Jack to meet. Both were at the University of Georgia about the same time. Both are big Bulldog fans. Both served in the military. Both have a great sense of humor. Both are great story tellers. Both love life. Both hunt and fish. Both loved to travel. Both are known for doting on their wives. I knew they would enjoy each other and their meeting, though short, proved gratifying. They learned they had a couple of the same professors; once lived in the same apartment complex; dined in some of the same restaurants; and knew some of the same people. Around Margaret’s bed, the regaling of stories kept us interested, curious and laughing. It was great fun and I was so happy to see them. And, of course, any reason to visit Kingsport is a welcomed treat. Plans for an extended summer visit are already in the making.
Later that day, we headed to Bristol, Virginia, to visit Vickie and Tom Mitoraj and enjoy an evening of delicious home-cooked food and an Irish Bailey Cheesecake. What?! It’s Lent ~ no sugar for me, so I was unable to consume as Tom and Daddy touted me about how delicious it was. THOSE RASCALS!
As I close, I reflect upon the traveling time Daddy and I had together with a visit to his teenage hometown of Hartwell when heading to the mountains. Finding family cemetery plots as I listened to his stories was entertaining. It was good for him to reminiscence. It was good for me to hear even if I heard some for the “100th time” because a few were new. And, closer to home, I am thinking about the geese who missed residing on Daddy’s lake last year because the snakes and/or catfish ate the baby goslings the year before. Maybe they will have a chance this year.
Lastly, until I gave up sugar for Lent, I had no idea how much of our diet includes hidden sugar. It’s been a challenge and especially so with the dish of jelly beans and chocolate-covered Easter eggs for the sorority girls sitting plainly in sight in my office. Knock on wood, the temptation has been kept at bay. Can I do it? The spring colors are so pretty and what lies within certainly gives instant satisfaction.
Happy Easter and may God bless you and your family during this Lenten season. I intend to relish in a piece of cheesecake that day with a cup of coffee!
Susan E. Kendrick is a Sunday Stories columnist who shares her insights and Southern humor each month in Sincerely, Susan. To correspond with Susan, email her at [email protected] To share your events for our Out & About calendar, email [email protected] or [email protected]