treasure.

Moving to a new place where you know nobody or much of anything about it feels a bit like a treasure hunt. You’re grasping for whatever looks graspable and every little thing is a clue that will hopefully lead you to your next open door. Some clues are big and obvious—like meeting the only person who responded to your facebook post about needing a roommate (she’s awesome thankfully!)

Some are smaller clues. My new roommate gave me a coupon for a free Kavu watch band from the local outfitters. I don’t have a Kavu watch face but I should probably go retrieve my band. Does the retail employee at the outfitters hold my next clue? Will someone ask about my cool new watch band sans watch and they’ll become my friend and we’ll get best friend bracelets eventually?

This treasure hunt in northern Georgia happens to be deliciously littered with countless wineries (well, I counted, I’ve found at least 27 within 30 miles!) While at my first one, I looked through the “Mountain Traveler” magazine that sat next to the fluffy rosemary bread. I wrote down everything that stood out—waterfalls, the one coffee shop, restaurants that look tasty, job possibilities, and every single winery.

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Later that night at the dumpy hotel with dirty carpet that I didn’t even want to walk on with bare feet, I decided I needed to get out. I couldn’t have almonds for dinner one more time, especially because that’s what I had for lunch. I looked at my notes and saw that “Mully’s Nacoochie Grill—elevated Southern dining” was not far.

Intriguing. I put my slippers on to walk to the mirror; I looked like I had gone on a hike and then fallen asleep for a couple hours. I threw on my yellow hat and hit the road for a fancy biscuit.

Mully’s was adorable. It was like walking into your grandma’s house, with a wrap-around porch and roaring fireplace. I sat in the bar next to some drapes that rested against my back. I ordered a small salad since I didn’t have any money coming in and the dumpy hotel was still $88.

The $30 ribeyes and filets made me consider Mully’s as a job possibility because 20% of $30 is $6 which could buy me a biscuit (with chicken!) A four top…$120, $24 tip, SIX BISCUITS WITH CHICKEN!

Georgian Beth might weigh 250 lbs.

I continued to read my book so I could feel like I was eating with Anthony Doerr and not by myself as I picked through the salad for all the bacon pieces.

“Thanks for coming in, young lady,” a man in a Georgia Bulldog sweater with a popped collar said in a very southern twang.

“My pleasure. I’m glad I came.”

He continued on through the restaurant to thank other young ladies for coming in, I predicted.

I was close enough to the fire to feel the warmth. The employees were laughing and seemed to be having fun. The live music was hitting the spot with James Taylor and the Beatles covers. I liked this place.

When I was halfway though my salad, the man walked back by and asked, “How’s your salad tasting?”

“I love it. This bacon vinaigrette is amazing…”

“It’s all made here. I’m glad you like it. Where are you from?”

I put down my fork and said, “Well I’m from Florida, I’m moving here from Ketchum, ID and everything I own is in the back of my truck and I’m hoping to unload it soon.”

He sat down. “What! Where are you staying tonight? What do you do for work? I’m Mully, by the way.”

I told him I was staying in a hotel because I didn’t want to camp because of all the rain…I waited tables for four years and I’d love to do the same again. We chatted for a few minutes and he said he could absolutely find something for me.

“You walked in the door at the right time, young lady! Come see me tomorrow and we’ll get you set up,” he said.

I went in the next day and was on the schedule the day after that. I found a little bit of treasure! Treasure that I’ll have to work for, but treasure nonetheless.

hygge.

/noun/ [hoog-uh]: the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friend or family, enjoying food, etc.

As a Florida girl, I had never heard about this phenomenon called “Crust Cruising.” It’s springtime magic. The days get warm enough to melt the snow a little bit, and then it refreezes over night, creating a crusty skateable/walkable layer of snow. It means that there are no limits—you can saunter on mountainsides that are usually covered in sage because you’re on top of it all, walking on six feet or so of snow from the winter storms.

The cruising of the crust coincided perfectly with the first week of extended daylight this year. Pal and I headed out immediately after work to the same area daily because we fell in love with it.

Four out of five days that week, we saw a man and his dog arrive around the same time. The man looked to be in his sixties. The yellow lab appeared to be Pal’s age–the dogs were very aware of each other, but didn’t bark or try to run to greet one another. Just like the man and me.

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He carries a chair and a backpack. They walk above the trail, we walk below it, leaving the actual packed down trail for somebody who doesn’t appreciate the exploratory route of having no route. The man and his dog find their way to the same hill and then sit at the very top, sometimes for the entirety of my walk. I wonder if they’re just soaking up as much sun as they possibly can after work, too…if this is his hygge, a simple comfort of a daily walk to the same hill, where they will be silent and watch the shadows on the snow as the sun sets. Or maybe he just lost his wife and this is where they used to walk together. Maybe he’s writing to her on a postcard because he just doesn’t know what else to do with his grief, he just feels like he needs to write how much he misses her.

Maybe he’s actually chugging whiskey and thinking about how much he hates everyone and everything. Either way, in some weird way, I think it’s beautiful, this peaceful habitual snowy hill hike.

Crazy.

Dear G’ma,

I guess it’s a little crazy that I’m writing these to you. It’s just a lot crazy that you’re gone and I guess it’s helping me cope. I know we know our grandparents will get older and will pass away but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. When I start to get overly emotional, the rational part of me thinks, ‘Beth, calm down. She had 87 years of a wonderful life.’

Yes, that is true, but I had 33 years, my entire life to love you, to admire you, to call when I missed or needed you. My whole life, I’ve had a bright light in my Grandma Dixie, always available (except at siesta time) for a wise word, a laugh, a book review, a sweet sentiment, a shoulder to lean on. The void feels absolutely incredibly GIGANTIC and so worth mourning over. Yes, you had a great long life but it sure does feel like it ended too soon. I have the Pen Pal card that says “Feel better immediately” still in my satchel for you and ten cards in my cart that you ordered to send to your friends.

We will all congregate on the day after Thanksgiving to have the celebration of life ceremony. It will be beautiful, I have no doubt, because your life was so beautifully lived. But I’m sure it will bring another meaning to “Black Friday” for us; the world does seem a bit darker without our sweet Dixie in it.

I LOVE YOU,

Beth

Voicemails.

Dear Grandma,

I re-listened to all of your voicemails last night. Last week, too. It’s something I’ve been doing when I feel the urge to hear your voice. Some of them were under 20 seconds, and part of me was surprised I saved them because they didn’t say much. But boy did they say MUCH…hi and that you were thinking of me, that it was warm in “Floreeda” it is probably cold in “Ideeho”, and that you loved me so much. Your voice always sounded so excited and joyful and I just imagine you sitting in your rocking chair on the porch, contacting your grandkids, making notes on their lives and their significant others so you were sure to remember and ask us next time. You made us all feel so loved and treasured. What a gift! It takes time to stay involved and keep up with a big family and you sure did succeed. We are going to give it our all to follow in your footsteps and do the same.

Missing you an outrageous amount,

Beth

P.S. The weather has been absolutely beautiful in Ideeho. Warm in the days, cool in the mornings and evenings. Pal and I are enjoying every single day. The quilt you made me is on my bed and keeps me perfectly warm at night.

To Grandma

Dear G’ma,

A lot of people miss you. We talk about how it comes in waves, how we will be okay until we’re at the grocery store picking out bacon and the salty tears start to fall. You made the best BLTs in the whole world. I know they couldn’t have been that special ingredient-wise because they only consist of B, L, and T. It was almost as if we had even better conversation when we were eating them, like it was our special grandmother-granddaughter time so we better talk about the future and boys and memories we hold dear.

You were such an encourager of my writing and I loved that. You always asked me how my next book was going, but never made me feel badly when I didn’t have an update. “You’ll get back to it when the time is right” is something you’d say. You were right. I’m back to it now. I have a nice big desk in the new condo and my typewriter and laptop will sit side by side and I will click clack away, knowing it’d make you proud.

That’d be a wonderful goal…to do something per week that you loved. Sit in the hammock, feed the birds, plant some flowers, read a good book, make someone feel special, send out a note, go camping, drive to the beach, put Doug Hammer in the CD player, call my cousins, rock in the rocking chairs…I think I’ll start with lunch today. BLTs in the sunshine.

Xoxo,

Beth

Grandma Dixie.

Grandparents are special, aren’t they? I’m seeing the early stages of this with my parents and my brother’s little ones. The relationship seems to be one of mutual delight and adoration and I couldn’t love it more.
I was soo lucky to have that relationship with my grandma for 33 years. Delight and adoration, and also admiration and friendship. My Grandma Dixie was the most loved and precious person I’ve ever known. She never met a stranger, so not only are her four kids, 13 grandkids, and seven great-grandkids mourning this incredible loss, I imagine about 40,000 others are as well.
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Grandma and Grandpa traveled all over the world during their 63 years together. She sprinkled her southern charm worldwide. She genuinely cared about everyone around her. She made people feel like they were enough and that they were treasured and that their story was worth hearing. Talking about her in past tense is heartbreaking.

When Grandma had a stroke last week, I was so mad at myself for living so far away. I went to bed that night cursing the same mountains and golden aspens I was praising hours before…but then I thought about how I got my love of nature, seasons, traveling, and mountains from her. I love that.

Grandma was all about her merciful Savior, her family, NDBC, the Appalachian Mountains, Dunedin beaches, Gator football, daylillies, Mars Hill College, sensational rummy, watching pelicans fly, a liitttle bit of wine and crunchies at 4pm, and much, much more.

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She kept snail mail alive and it made any day better. She left the most amazing voicemails and usually ended with “…Grandma” as if she was signing a letter. She kept all of us up to date on what everyone was up to. We loved the same piano music and enjoyed the same books, always having plenty to talk about.

I flew home and held her hand and told her how I want to be just like her, wine at 4pm and all. We sat in the freezing cold Hospice room for a week, and she kept hanging on, hanging on.

This morning, I told her I had to go back to “Ideeho” (as she called it) and that Dad was taking me to the airport. I then told them the story about when I sat with Grandpa after his stroke, he would say, “Where’s my Dixie? Should I go sit closer to the door so I can be there when she comes in?” Dad and I teared up. I squeezed her hand and said, “I bet he’s sitting as close to the door as he can, Grandma.”

Dad said, “And everyone will be thankful to stop hearing ‘where’s my Dixie?’ after two years!”

When I got through security, my mom called to say Grandma passed away peacefully. Thinking about their reunion leaves me completely speechless…

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prima facie.

[prahy-muh fey-shee-ee, fey-shee, fey-shuhpree-]

adverb

  1. at first appearance; at first view, before investigation.

 

Prima facie, I saw the father and his little blonde daughter on a dinner date and I smiled too big to be in the middle of the crazy Friday night rush.

My smile didn’t fade as I greeted them, because she was polite and darling and he was proud and attentive. I can’t fully explain the importance of this time between a father and a daughter, I just know it is special because I’ve felt it. I remember eating ribs with my dad after a softball game, just the two of us, and it stands out as one of my favorite memories in 32 years of life. It’s so silly, because we spent all kinds of time together every single day but for some reason, this moment really stands out to me. I’m sure it’s something about feeling adored and loved and treasured like only our dads can make us feel. It felt like there was no where else my dad would rather be than there with me.

When I brought the salads out, the girl was in the restroom. I said, “She’s precious.” He perfectly responded with, “She really, really is. And so fun. I took her fly fishing today and she caught FIFTEEN fish! She absolutely loved it.”

He was beaming. My heart grew fifteen sizes in that moment. When I returned to pick up empty salad plates, she was explaining her favorite book in great detail. He listened to every word as if it was the most entertaining thing he’d ever heard. She’ll never forget this night, I can assure you of that. She’ll remember what they ate and what they talked about and she’ll probably blog about it when she’s 32.

Here you'll find whimsical wonderments on dictionary.com's word of the day about traveling around the US and NZ, help exchange, meeting fascinating people, and now, my handsome polar bear, Pal.

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