The Benefits Of Getting Away For A While

I just returned from a road trip to North Carolina. I had been through the area before, but had never spent an extended time there. My cousin, Marcia, went to visit family and I went along for the ride. En route, she mentioned that it had been 51 years since we took a trip together. Years ago we visited Virginia Beach. I still have a plaque that I picked up there. I associated it with my boyfriend who later became my husband.

The scenery was lush and green as we traveled southward. Up north I had snow at my home just days before our trip and it was mid-May. The wild phlox along the road was beautiful as were the patches of daisies. We noticed that in the median of the road they had an assortment of wild flowers. They looked so pretty. My cousin loved the roses while I favored the day lilies.

My cousin owns a house in N.C., so we had a nice place to stay. All was well until the little black ants discovered the food we moved in. I brought a bag of coconut that got peppered with ants. My trail mix also bit the dust. We bought ant traps to put out, but we still lost some of the food. Everything had to be kept in the refrigerator.

We alternated between eating in and eating out. It is good to experience the cuisine of the area. Marcia sampled grits, while I had hush puppies and collard greens. Our meals eaten at home or with relatives were the standard fare that we are used to.

One night there was a cruise-in in town so we went. There were not enough cars according to my cousin’s grandson, but the music was good. It, too, was a touch of the community. There were all sorts of people out having a good time.

My cousin’s daughter and I share a name so it was a little confusing. We had to identify which Ann we were speaking about. Really we are not together all that much so we had never experienced that before.

I watched for farmers out doing their work. Mostly I noticed that the fields had been cleared of hay. I also noted that some fields had been planted. Machinery down there is not all that different than we use around here.

My cousin, Bob and his family live down there, too. The last time we spent any amount of time together he was just back from the Korean Conflict. Now he is a grandfather who has fixed up the house that they call home. It was nice to see what he was able to do. We are now all senior citizens.

Lazy days were spent on the front porch. A huge magnolia tree shaded the area. It was fun to watch the magnolia blossoms develop. One day, they looked like lights from a candle and the next day they were white blossoms that were about ten inches across. After a day of blossoming, the flowers turned brown and then the petals fell off. They have a delightful scent. I was happy that it did not seem to bother me in the least. The back deck was in the sunshine and the air was just too warm to enjoy that.

The last restaurant we ate in served all local food so the menu varies from week to week. I was surprised that they did not have catsup. I thought maybe they would have some of the homemade stuff. It really is not all that difficult to make. I have a recipe in my canning book but I can cut it down to make a bottle. I have done that when I ran out. I chose an omelet. It was good but it could have been better if they used more seasoning. While I appreciate the garden-to-table concept, I think they need some work on their preparation methods.

It was ever so nice to get away for a while. It was quite a shock when I returned home though. The warm weather and rain made everything grow. My patio is full of weeds. I have to pull weeds then spray. The beds are overgrown with all sorts of weeds. I have some serious work ahead of me. I am expecting my lawn mowing service to clean out some of the beds and mulch but I have to get to the herb garden myself. I found a couple herbs that I was missing at a garden store down south and brought them home with me. I have them soaking in water to moisten the pots. The directions say to plant the whole thing.

We used two days to travel home so we could stay for a family birthday celebration. I arrived home with plenty of time to get ready for another birthday celebration here. I picked up my dog at my son’s place. He was ever so glad to see me. Once we got home all he wanted was for me to sit down for a while. He and the cat took turns sitting on my lap.

My grandson turned fourteen while I was away. I texted him a birthday message and he quickly answered. His mom did not even know that I contacted him. We celebrated with a picnic the day I returned. I was happy to have the whole family together so I could share all of my stories. Their cousins all wished them well. Now it is back to Facebook greetings.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.