Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Returning Again and Again

I'm asked all the time why we return again and again to the Inn on the Biltmore Estate.  For years we teased my parents because they went to Branson twice a year and went to the same shows they had seen before and maybe just maybe if they were feeling a bit adventurous they would add an additional show.  If they liked it, the show was added to their rotation.  We go to Biltmore but rarely do the same thing twice except for maybe enjoying the stay and marveling at the pastoral beauty of manicured fields and being surprised each morning by the fog or mist and even perhaps a clear view.  We searched for black bear sightings because this fall the bear have been out and more visible.  We did see deer, wild turkeys, the fattest squirrels ever, geese that don't leave the estate because they've found a good thing and chipmunks.   The sheep herd had a few new little lambs and the cows, well, they were just cows. 

This particular stay has quickly become one of my favorites.  The end of September isn't a busy time, so there isn't a sense of rushing.  This trip had an additional element of me actually feeling good.  It has been quite some time that I was able to participate and thoroughly enjoy walks both on the estate and on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Since the temperatures overnight had dropped into the  50's, most mornings one of the big fireplaces in the library would be lit and the comfy couch and chairs beckoned.   On Tuesday, after breakfast, Roy and I sat in front of the fire and read.  I had brought several books but I was trying to finish up Heartbreak Café, so it was my choice of the morning.  The story takes place in Mississippi, but the main character needs to have some time away and as she sets out of town, she decides Asheville will be her destination.  So, on Tuesday I began to read the part I just wrote about.  Timing is everything and it meant so much to read about her thoughts concerning the Blue Ridge Mountains and the breath taking scenery.  The author voiced what I have been unable to put into words when asked why we return year after year when there is so many other places to see. 

"People talk about the majesty of the Rockies, but there's no beauty on earth like the Blue Ridge.  The Rockies are young mountains, high and hard and angular and bare.  These are soft with age, dusted with snow like powdered sugar and wreathed into mist.  Trustworthy mountains, un changed and unchangeable.  Blue and purple and dark green and gray, folded together in layers.  I could feel their steadiness, a comfort like old flannel, as if they were embracing me, drawing me in and welcoming me home. 

I knew better, at least in my mind....The thought gave me no pleasure.  So for now, for just a little while, I'd let the mountains enclose me, let myself pretend I belonged.  Pretend I was coming home."

The atmosphere encourages slowing down, noticing life and taking a deep breath.  It seems that almost everyone employed by the estate is content and happy doing their job.  Their responses to often asked questions that they are probably asked ten times a day, are gracious, respectful and a hint of freshness, like they had never answered that question before.  The bonus is learning how the estate is primed to be self-sustaining or getting to go to the west side or hearing in the behind the scenes tours those tid bits that inform and entertain.  Many of the guides were not natives of North Carolina, but had visited many times on vacation and when they retired, they headed to Asheville to enjoy the beauty and to be employed by the estate. 

At home more often than not arising early is not a joyful experience but there, we woke up and headed right into the day.  There was so much we wanted to see and do.  Wednesday was the only rainy day and it afforded the opportunity to go downtown to Malapropos, an independent bookstore and to Mast General Store.  I would be embarrassed to tell you how many new books came home with me and how many new t-shirts have been added to my collection. 

So, we returned home refreshed and rested.  We are contemplating a return Christmas visit but after this week, we might have been ruined to go in any of the busy seasons.

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