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Back from the mountaintop
February 26, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
There is no more foolproof cure for this world-weary mom than a weekend away with my mother and sister.
Our fifth annual girls' weekend was last weekend. My mom lives in North Georgia and my sister lives in Dayton. Each February, we spend a weekend together, just the three of us, usually somewhere equidistant from our homes, which turns out to be Kentucky.
We rent a cabin, either privately owned or at a state resort park. My sister insists on a wood-burning fireplace, and she is the official Fire Mistress. I insist on one of my mother's homemade rib-stickers, such as chili or macaroni and cheese. And, of course, we both insist on her homemade blackberry pie. And no matter how full we are from dinner, we always have room for popcorn, popped the old-fashioned way in a big pot on the stove.
Sometimes, we find our way into the nearest town to hit any antique or country shops, and maybe try out the local ice cream parlor. But this year, our cabin was so remote, we didn't leave it except to collect kindling and stroll along a path through the woods and down to the pond, where we sunned ourselves on a tiny dock before lunch on Saturday.
The log cabin where we stayed this year was pricier than our budgets usually allow, but we all decided it was worth it, and that we'll definitely have to make a return trip, either with spouses and/or children, or just the three of us again someday.
It was called the General's Cabin and was built by a retired U.S. Air Force general. It was 100 miles from nowhere (actually, about an hour southeast of Lexington), down the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway into the thick of the Daniel Boone National Forest, near Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park.
The cabin, we agreed, was the most unique retreat we have experienced. Eclectic doesn't begin to describe the architecture and interior furnishings. Everywhere we turned, we saw something else that tickled our fancies. A loft in one corner was held up by tree trunks and appointed with two mattresses covered in cozy quilts and a child-sized table with coloring books and crayons at the ready. A 4-inch high horse figurine stood sentinel on sill of the loft's diamond-shaped window, which was salvaged from a one-room schoolhouse that had stood nearby and where the General had attended as a boy.
The wood planking that separated the rooms was uneven and quirky. There were mismatched chairs, a chess board and marble pieces, the General's desk with a history of him and the cabin, 10-foot bookshelves with everything from a Chinese-English dictionary to D.H. Lawrence to "Marley and Me," a sconce with a shade made of an amber-colored tortoise shell.
We felt almost as if we were house-sitting, as if we were in someone's home and they were away for the weekend. It was that comfortable, that homey.
We ate good food, watched movies, played Scrabble, worked a 300-piece jigsaw puzzle (nine missing pieces!) and talked about our work, our families, our lives. It was therapeutic. It was relaxing. It was glorious.
It wasn't until Sunday morning that I finally felt all my tension had melted away. Now it was time to head home. But first, we stopped at Kathy's Country Kitchen in Clay City, Ky., home of the best fried green tomatoes I've ever eaten. This is the second time my sister and I had been there; trip No. 3 for my mom. We love Kathy's food, and I know we'll be back.
When I left my house on Friday, I was cranky, depressed and overwhelmed by life. When I returned to my husband and daughter, I was a brand new woman, ready to be more patient with Emma, more attentive to Dave, more focused at work and more obedient to God.
It is my hope that all mothers (and dads — Dave gets his weekend off this weekend!) receive the respite they need from time to time, to refresh, renew and rejuvenate their minds, bodies and souls.
I know if I don't have these "mountaintop" experiences on occasion, I will end up hopelessly mired in the muck of life.
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Mom and me with the Scrabble board. My sister blew us away — she's picked up a ton of tricks by playing online!