We savored last Saturday, March 18, in Pine Mountain, Georgia on F. D. Roosevelt State Park Campground. Here’s a slice of our day, in pictures.
Savoring Saturdays – 1828 Coffee Company Breakfast and Hanging Out at Home
Since January, we’ve made an intentional plan to savor our Saturdays by starting with coffee and dialing back the pace of life. Boo Radley and his brothers helped us do that today. All three dogs were in different chairs, in different sleeping positions, strewn across the furniture like cozy throw blankets on this cloudy, cold afternoon – inspiring us to kick back and take it easy.
We started the day at 1828 Coffee Company with a cinnamon roll, a slice of breakfast casserole, cheese grits, lemon biscotti, coffee, and lavender latte. What a feast! What a treasure! The gifts of time, togetherness, and relaxation without pressing deadlines are on my list of gratitudes for today.
And life is far too short not to be counting.
Savoring Saturday – Coffee, Vacation Conversation, and Baby Goats
Saturdays are for savoring – for making time for coffee, conversation, and time to enjoy life without all the demands of work and deadlines. So on Friday night when my sister-in-law called to see if I wanted to ride with her to pick up some farm fresh eggs, I asked if we could make it a post-coffee date. We’ve been chickenless on our farm for over a year now, and my husband and I have been missing the fresh eggs that we prefer when we have breakfast for supper a couple of times each week. My sister-in-law found a neighbor with plenty to spare.
After lingering over breakfast and coffee in 1828 Coffee Company for an hour, dreaming of planning a summer vacation to Glacier National Park, we made our way down the road to one of several dozen mini-farms in our rural Georgia county, where homesteaders live on self-sustaining tracts of land filled with fresh vegetable gardens, herbs, and livestock of all kinds. They make their own butters and jams, breads, dry herbs for year-round cooking, and aim to live more than 90% off their own land, right down to the soap they make themselves.
Many of the homesteaders here don’t believe in doctors, choosing instead the ways of functional medicine and homeopathic remedies, along with a diet without preservatives and chemical additives. The free-range eggs and chickens without hormone injections are part of a healthier diet. Their commitment to the land is second only to their commitment to God and church.
As we were picking up several dozen chicken and duck eggs, we also got to hold the new little kids that are 6 weeks old! Baby goats have a way of lifting your spirits instantly as you hold them or watch them scamper about, doing little spinning sidekicks as they jump off of stumps, filling your heart with joy. Their sheer energy and happiness to be alive is contagious!
As we left the farm with eggs and hearts full of baby goat joy, I was uplifted with so many signs of spring – not only baby farm animals, but also daffodils in full bloom and the warmth of sunshine.
Welcome, early spring! I hope the southern groundhog was right.
Savoring Saturdays: 1828 Coffee Company on the Zebulon Square
Think of the world which you carry within yourself…pay attention to what arises within you. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
We recently spent another Saturday savoring the morning hours with coffee and conversation in Zebulon, Georgia on our town square. We love the atmosphere of our small town coffee shop, restored from a historic building to the place we love and enjoy today by Dr. Dan Dunnahoo. You can read his story here. Dunnahoo, a retired Pike County art teacher known affectionately as “Dr. Dan” by locals, named the coffee shop 1828 Coffee Company because it was built in 1828 by Samuel Mitchell and still has the same wood floors that creaked under folks’ boots all those years ago, every plank restored and returned to its original position in the floor.
You can step back in time and order a cup of Zebulon Pike or any of their unique blends of coffee or tea and a cinnamon roll, then sit back and wonder about the history of this place and your own indelible time stamp on it, the dust of your own shoes settling somewhere beneath your feet between a crevice in the wood on the very dust brought in by those who used it as a trading post when it was first built. You can also wonder about those who later became proud first-ever owners of automobiles within its walls when it was a car dealership, and all the romance that bloomed here when it was an ice cream shop and young men brought their sweethearts here to share a date night treat – many of whom no doubt brought their own children back years later when it was a restaurant or an office.
Today, you can find a book in one of three Little Free Libraries here in this coffee house, hear live entertainment, or listen to students reciting poetry or performing a dramatic reading. Dr. Dan and his son-in-law Bryan open their doors to welcome a variety of events that shape the culture of this small town.
Next time you’re traveling through Zebulon, Georgia, be sure to stop in and say hello. Order coffee upstairs, admire the art, and then stroll downstairs where you can play a board game or sit outdoors on the brick patio and enjoy the sights of the town. If you happen to see a middle-aged woman huddled in a corner savoring coffee, reading, or writing, come introduce yourself – – it may be me!
Hoping Folks Out
When my phone rings in the early morning hours, I don’t panic and wonder what in the world has happened. A feeling of calm prevails. Things are as they have always been. There’s Dad.
I have a story I need to tell while it’s fresh on my mind, before I forget, he tells me. I grab my pen, the closest piece of paper, and listen, feverishly writing all that he shares.
It was back in the old days in rural Georgia when I was preaching at Ohoopee, he began. This was down around Highway 19, where you’d go through Wrightsville, meander over to Tennille, and then on out to Sandersville, where there were cotton fields everywhere and all the roads were red clay. And Ohoopee was a church of miracles. A cured drunk who loved the Lord led the singing, and the first time I stepped in there, they were singing “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” only he pronounced it Jurdan’s. And, as they say, “he weren’t wrong.”
There was a fellow by the name of Noah in the church, married to a lady named Nora, and Noah was having trouble finding where to dig his well. He needed help finding water. And back in those days, people were people and folks’ existence was all about helping their neighbors out.
Another couple in the church, Elvis and Helen, heard about it. “I’m coming over to hope you out,” Elvis told Noah, and when I heard that, I went over there too.
It wasn’t uncommon in those days to hear regional idioms and think of them as words misspoken, but these weren’t misspoken words – this was intentional language packed with meaning. Elvis was coming to hope his neighbor out.
Elvis said he had a divining rod – a hickory branch – that he could use to help him find water. Now Kim, believe what you will, but Elvis walked the grounds with that stick, and suddenly it tremored. I saw it with my own eyes. Right there, he said, was water. They marked the spot for the well and dug right there.
“Where exactly was this spot?” I was curious and had to know.
They called this area Possum Scuffle, he explained. It was back over in Harrison by Raines Store where they called it Deep Step and Goat Town, where a lady named Margaret Holmes had a cannery for black eyed peas and collards. They were the best you could get then and still are today.
“I believe you, Dad,” I assured him. “I’ve read about this. It’s a real thing.”
I had flashbacks to visiting the Foxfire Museum in Clayton, Georgia at the foot of Black Rock Mountain last April, where I saw in the holler the ways of a simpler way of life with a harder work ethic and more relying on God to bless the land – and people depending on each other – and wished that part of the world still existed.
Who am I to doubt a divining rod?
Now, I’m telling you all this because I’ve had one of those mornings where I’ve been playing with words, and I know you do the same thing, he continued. I’m still dwelling on the shipwreck passage in Acts 27, and there’s a Biblical connection I’ve discovered. Luke is the most likely author of the book, and he describes the ship being in a storm out in the Adriatic Sea near Malta. They used stabilizing ropes. In mariner’s terms, these are called hawsers. Today, we also call them helps, or help ropes.
I began to see where he was going with all of this. “Ah, I see. So hoping someone out is like using a help rope. Help is a hope rope.”
Exactly, he confirmed. Hope ropes tie it all together and make things possible. In Acts 27, the imperiled ship could have been dashed, save for the hope ropes.
That’s exactly what we need today in our communities – – to hope our neighbors out. We need to adopt the mindset of rural Georgia thinking back in the good days when folks extended not just a hand, but their whole selves – – divining rods and all.
My January Goals Update
Acknowledging, recognizing, and reordering our priorities so that they can give purpose to our days is a deeply personal task that we all need to do if we are to learn to live by our own lights. - Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
On the last day of each month, I update my goal progress in the areas I chose for the year. Monthly goal updates that began a decade ago in 2013 in the Notes app on my phone are now kept in table form on my blog, giving me a way of remaining focused on my goals and holding myself accountable in actionable strides. Today, I’m sharing my first goal update of 2023. January is just the beginning of the year-long marathon, so I’ve been energetic and about all the new goals. Looking back at these early tables later in the year will give me the momentum to achieve most of my goals, if not all of them, at the notorious “mile 25” when the runner is beyond weary. I invite you to try this system if you’ve never tracked goals over the course of a year and you’re looking for a way to celebrate your successes along the journey.
|Literature||*Read Around the USA|
*Give Away Books
*Send out Postcards
|I read Stephen King’s On Writing for my Read Around the USA New England states with the Book Girls, and I decided on my February book: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan. I have ordered this book for our next group of states and can’t wait to start reading. I’ve blogged daily, given away 2 four-foot shelves of books, and sent postcards to my grandchildren and others during this month.|
|Creativity||*Improve blog photos|
*Indulge in photo excursions
*Create photo montage
|I ordered favorite moment photos on canvas, and they arrived mid-January! They turned out beautifully, and each morning I begin the day seeing the joy of adventuring and living. I’ve been on several photography excursions this month. I still need to work on improving my blog photos.|
|Spirituality and One Little Word (Pray)||*Tune in to church|
*Pray! Keep OLW priority
|Dad sent me a copy of Harry Emerson Fosdick’s The Meaning of Prayer, and I’m delving into this selection slowly. Although we are still between churches, we attend weekly on YouTube Live wherever Dad is guest preaching. My One Little Word is a daily priority – I pray in the shower and on my way to work (keeping my word in visible places helps tremendously).|
|Reflection||*Write family stories|
*Spend time tracking goals each month
|I’m tracking my goal progress. I’ve copied and pasted this goal template into the last day of each month’s blog post already and scheduled it to post. I can update sections throughout the month as I reach goals or work toward them. I haven’t written any family stories this month, but instead I have asked Dad to guest blog twice on Sundays with reflection pieces on prayer.|
|Self-Improvement||*Reach top of weight range|
*Give away clothes when they get baggy
|My husband and I both cleaned out our closets and donated what we discarded that was still in good shape. The county north of us sustained severe tornado damage a couple weeks ago, so we know that the clothes and shoes will be used by those who lost their belongings and were displaced from their homes. We also cleaned out our pantry and refrigerator and donated food to families with immediate needs. “Starting over” feels great! Giving to those in need makes the process more meaningful. On the weight loss goal, I’m a pound and a half from my target, and I hope to reach my goal in the next couple of weeks.|
|Gratitude||*Devote blog days to counting blessings||I celebrated my husband on his birthday and my firstborn daughter on hers. Those were the only birthdays this month. I’m reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, which keeps me focused on feeling grateful each day. Birthdays seem like natural occasions to be intentional with written gratitude for others.|
|Experience||*Embrace Slow Travel|
*Focus on the Outdoors
|We’re making conscious efforts to slow down our travel pace. For the past two Saturdays, we have savored the mornings, so I’m starting a new mindset practice: Savoring Saturdays. Each begins with coffee and includes books. I need to get outdoors more. I look forward to the lengthening days and the coming warmth ~I’m hoping the groundhog predicts an early spring.|
Experience: 2022 Christmas Camping Across 4 State Parks in 5 Days
“Slow travel rejects speed, emphasizes soaking in the local culture, and encourages us to savor the journey, not rush it.” –The Art of Slow Travel, by Bhavana Gesota
Most everyone we told of our Christmas travel plans tried to convince us to rethink our winter camping journey in subzero temperatures. "You might want to reconsider," they'd urged, each in their own way. "It's going to be dangerously cold. How will you stay warm in a camper?" We'd recently downsized from a 30-foot 4-season Keystone Outback to a 21-foot non-insulated 2022 Little Guy Max Rough Rider. We were looking forward to seeing what it was made of.....and, perhaps more importantly, what we were made of. We weren't wavering on our decision. The plans were made, and we would set out with two full propane tanks, an indoor-safe propane heater, an indoor electric heater, a supply of firewood, and an electric blanket. We'd monitored the weather and were keeping close tabs on the conditions of the roads. We weren't worried about the extreme temperatures, either. With three radiant-heater dogs (who sleep at our head, hips, and feet) and each other, we were looking forward to all the cozy snuggling and excuses to linger in bed with coffee and read or write or watch Netflix or listen to our favorite seventies bands until the sun came up and warmed the walking trails a half a degree or more. With any trip, things happen that we don't anticipate - - like when the bananas freeze and all turn dark brown and ooze goo, and the jar of olive oil freezes solid when we'd planned on searing steaks. Or when the propane, which converts from a liquid to a gas in the pipelines, freezes and renders that first heating plan completely ineffective, taking us straight to our backup heat. Those kinds of things. A few minor setbacks mixed in with some more serious ones. So it is in life. Determination, a plan, a road map, forecasts, obstacles, challenges, a burning desire to experience life ~ even in extreme elements. It's all part of the journey. I'm so glad we stayed the course and savored the moments. It was worth it to experience "slow travel," without a novel-thick itinerary, to "camp our way across states," breaking down the drive into short segments.
Here are the “Slow Travel” savored moments from our week away over the holidays.
First Stop: Burdoc Farms, Crofton, Kentucky. Most memorable moment: goofing off in the snow in our pajamas, taking pictures of the White Christmas winter wonderland as one of our daughters clicked her heels in sunset snow.
Second Stop: Rock Island State Park, Tennessee. Most memorable moment: enjoying the peaceful sounds of the waterfall at the dam.
Third Stop: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee. Most memorable moment: taking in the beauty and sounds of the frozen waterfalls and cascades.
Fourth Stop: Harrison Bay State Park, Tennessee. Most Memorable moment: sunrise on the bay.
Fifth Stop: Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia. Most memorable moment: writing all day on a rainy New Year’s Eve Eve.
Sixth Stop: Lunch with my aunt and uncle at OK Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. Most memorable moment: sipping coffee at the retro dinette table, celebrating their December birthdays.
Seventh Stop: Home for New Year’s Eve with one of our sons. Most memorable moment: eating collard greens, black eyed peas, and ribs as we watched the Peach Bowl.
Experiencing places + savoring the journey through slow travel = just the right pace!
Relaxing the Pace: My Experience Goals for 2023
“Slow travel is being in a place long enough to experience it without having a strict itinerary. It isn’t about seeing everything but experiencing the soul of a place.”
― Bhavana Gesota, The Art of Slow Travel: See the World and Savor the Journey On a Budget
In April, I took a girls’ trip with my sister-in-law to north Georgia and North Carolina. We ambled around Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia at a leisurely pace, admiring the tiers of tulips and daffodils before embarking on the scenic drive to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, where we sat by the huge stone fireplace and sipped coffee in those relaxing wooden rocking chairs you see in the mountains in places where life is simpler and a fresher type of air cleans the lungs and awakens the senses.
“I’m loving this,” I told her. “I don’t feel rushed, and it’s a more relaxed pace than the itinerary I usually keep when traveling. I zip from place to place, and I don’t generally sit down and breathe until day’s end.” I was especially thinking about the EF Tour I’d taken with students to Europe in June 2019, when we’d visited four countries in ten days with a full day of air travel there and back as two of those days. It had drained every bit of me!
Sitting in the huge stone-walled lobby, I noticed the quotes on the rocks in the wall. On a breakneck-paced trip, I would have never noticed such a detail. As I observed more, I discovered that they were scattered throughout the hotel, and I visually scaled the walls on a self-secret scavenger hunt, making pictures, taking the time to ponder each one and to consider why it was selected out of all the quotes they could have chosen to etch there.
We stumbled upon the gingerbread house display from the annual competition and noticed each captivating detail of these winning designs. Further down the hall, we found the desk F. Scott Fitzgerald used during his time at the Grove Park Inn. Our room was directly across the hall from the two rooms that were “his” at the inn. We strolled through the gift shops, too, taking time to peruse the books about the history of this historic hotel. We each bought one and returned to the great fireplace to read them.
That’s why months later, when I saw the book The Art of Slow Travel, I knew it would be my next read. Four months into 2022, I was already beginning to realize that a more relaxed pace when traveling has more than mere physical benefits. Throughout 2022, most every trip that didn’t involve our camper held a hard lesson about taking life at a slower pace, lugging less on the journey, and savoring more tranquil moments.
My experience goals for 2023 are to cut back on entertainment in the form of concerts, sports, plays, and movies and instead focus on the experiences that are found outdoors – kayaking, hiking, long walks, conversations over orange spiced tea and playlists by the fire pit (my son and daughter in law gave us one for Christmas). It’s time to open the windows and relax the pace. To breathe. To embrace slow travel not only on trips, but as a daily living practice.