Blue Ridge Idyll

Our living room, with lovely big windows to make us feel like we were staying in a surprisingly comfortable tree house.

Last weekend we were supposed to be visiting with some of my husband’s family in Michigan. A week or so before we were meant to travel, we spoke with his brother and sister-in-law and reluctantly decided to cancel the gathering. With covid-19 numbers increasing and the risk of spreading the virus skyrocketing because of the highly contagious Delta variant, it didn’t seem safe to take a vacation for the purpose of spending time close to a group of people from several states.

Since we were already scheduled to be away, my husband, son, and I would, instead, plan ourselves a different adventure. This trip, I decided, would be the ultimate in social distancing, with the three of us in an isolated cabin in the mountains. So I began to search for the right place. And on Airbnb, I found just the cabin. It was a two-bedroom place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, southwest of Charlottesville and walking distance to the Appalachian Trail. We were 3,000 feet up, on a heavily wooded lot up a gravel road, with no other buildings within sight. And it was divine.

It’s been so long since I’ve been somewhere with no traffic noise. Here at home, you mostly stop consciously noticing it, but there is always the hum of traffic in the distance. Even at 3 a.m., it’s there. At our cabin in the mountains, there was generally no sound at all except birds and insects and wind in the trees. Occasionally a car went by on the gravel road in the distance, or a plane droned as it flew far overhead. But those were limited to a few times a day. Mostly, it was quiet. Peaceful.

Sitting on the back porch was like being in a tree house. So many times in our three days there, I just sat on the porch, watching the green trees, the birds calling in the branches, the thick layer of ferns on the ground, and the dancing butterflies. The owner of the house had mentioned that a young black bear had been visiting the cabin lately, and I was hoping it would stop by; unfortunately, we saw no bears. But once, a hummingbird zipped over when I was sitting on the porch, and hovered beside me for a moment before zooming away.

Overhead, a circle of clear sky showed between the ring of trees that surrounded us. At night it glittered with stars, so many more than I’ve seen in years. You forget, living in the city, just how many stars are up there. The first night I sat for hours, looking up, watching the sky as if it were a television screen.

On Saturday and Sunday, we hiked up to the Appalachian Trail, on Sunday actually reaching the top of the mountain and the panoramic view of the Blue Ridge. I’ll post more details and photos of our hikes another time. Right now, I’m just happy to say I got back to the mountains for a few days. And it was good.

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