Every October like a siren call, the small cities and towns of North Georgia beckon me to explore their beauty and bounty. It doesn’t take much convincing for me to escape the traffic and congestion of metro Atlanta and head north to see the changing leaves and breathe the refreshing air of Fall.
In late September, I visited the rolling hills of Rome, Georgia and the Chick-Fil-A WinShape Conference Center in the Appalachian Piedmont. The conference center on the campus of Berry College is located on the former dairy farm of the college. The dairy was constructed in the early 1900’s to teach farming skills to the isolated students of the region. Each barn was built to resemble the architecture of the French countryside. Careful restoration converted the brick and tile dairy barns into meeting places and hotel-type accommodations. I was raised in cow country in Northern New York, but I wasn’t brought up in a barn nor did I ever spend the night in one. But I finally got to do just that and what a delight it was.
The purpose for our visit was to attend a writer’s workshop that focused on writing narrative non-fiction. Both Charles and I received great instruction and ideas for enriching his life story, Chasing a Whirlwind. We came home with enthusiasm ready to tackle the rest of his book. The beauty and serenity of that place will stick with us for months to come.
On my next venture into the mountains I headed with my friend, Libby, to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and the quaint town of Blue Ridge, Georgia. We ate a delicious lunch before checking out all the gift and boutique shops lining Main Street. Stores with their colorful fall—and Christmas—decorations were a reminder that the holidays are just around the corner. We visited a roadside produce stand and were amazed at the beautiful displays of pumpkins, gourds, and flowers. I never knew pumpkins came in so many shapes, colors, and varieties.
We couldn’t resist stopping at the Panorama Farm Market in Ellijay before hitting the Interstate and heading home. A cold drink of complimentary apple cider and a sample of a variety of fresh apples and deserts was a perfect way to end our day at the “Apple Capital of Georgia.”
The Psalmist best expressed the spiritual refreshment that comes from a visit to the mountains.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)
I hope that each of you will experience a mountain moment during this beautiful season of the year.