State of bliss
Each weekend Paul and I have turned into a regular Ma and Pa Kettle, setting off on Sunday excursions to get off the farm for a change of scenery. If we remain in South Carolina, we search for that rarest of venues come noon: a restaurant with outdoor seating and a staff who protects themselves and the public by wearing masks. Crossing over the nearby border of North Carolina that seems, thankfully, to be the norm. And sometimes we simply pack a picnic and meander down welcoming roads off the beaten track.
Ever since “Deliverance,” the deep, rural south has had an unpleasant reputation of being a place in which one wouldn’t want to get lost. I find that ridiculous. To me, there’s nothing more entertaining than becoming lost! That’s when one might find the most amazing places. Besides, there’s no reason to feel any danger whatsoever by simply using GPS as well as avoiding anybody’s directions that include the word, ‘crick.’
But I enjoy a bit of ‘riparian entertainment,’ as Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet!) would say, and it was on the outskirts of Hendersonville, N.C that Paul and I rounded a bend and came upon the most bucolic of spots: a soft, grassy bank to the side of a small church, complete with picnic tables and overlooking a branch of the Broad River. A young man fly fishing beside a one lane bridge was our only companion and the entire scene was ringed by the Blueridge mountains. Bliss. Perfect tranquil bliss.
In Pickens, SC, at the urging of my good friend that many of you will recall from local television, Kimberly Kelly, we pulled into the Pumpkintown ‘Opry’ Theater—a place we have passed dozens of times over the years but had never stopped as we didn’t realize there was a sandwich shop inside. It was a brutally hot day and yet as we sat outside under the shade of their front porch, a constant breeze kept us more than comfortable as we devoured our tuna salad sandwiches and ‘Route 11’ dill flavored chips, served to us by a responsible server donning a mask. Kimberly had informed us that she regularly sells her farm raised produce and wares at the weekend Farmer’s Market held at the theater, giving us ample reasons to return.
Passing Lake Lure and following the road along Hickory Nut Gorge there’s an idyllic, hidden little spot one can pull into along the side of the road. You’ll want to pack a couple of foldable, canvas chairs for this one as you make your way down the bank and onto one of the massive, flat boulders as the rapids plunge over the rocks.
Closer to home, The French Broad, in charming downtown Hendersonville. We’ll return to both again as their responsibility to patrons is only surpassed by their delicious fare.
With the exception of those who physically cannot get out and about, or have no access to transportation, there is really no reason that any of us should be suffering from cabin fever during these trying months. Ya’ll…we live in an area in which people aspire to retire because of its beauty. Essentially in our own back yard, within minutes, we have access to lakes and rivers, waterfalls, undulating rural landscape and a big chunk of the Appalachian trail. We have marvelous state parks that offer public swimming. We have…everything.
I hope some weekend to run into you. Maybe at Pumpkintown! I’ll save you some chips.