Monday, September 10, 2012

Mountain air

What we needed was to get away from Lexington for awhile.

But Lexington decided to follow us anyway.


It's been about a year, maybe longer, since my wife and I had any time off together. This is significant because Kim's father passed away last November, and for several months before that, she was his caregiver. She was virtually chained and locked to The Ton. ("The Ton" being our little circle of friends' admittedly obscure nickname for Lexington. You know, Lexing-TON). And we couldn't find the keys.

An ocean of arts and crafts tents fills up Art in the Park in Blowing Rock.
Even after he died, poor Kim was nearly overwhelmed as the executrix of her father's estate, an emotional and seemingly never-ending respon-sibility. On top of all this, she had to look for a job after her position at a local bank was eliminated after 31 years because of financial downsizing.

But then, almost as if by magic, doors and windows opened. She found part-time work that she enjoys. We closed on the estate. The calender suddenly had a September vacancy and Blowing Rock — one of our favorite three-day weekend getaways — beckoned with an Art in the Park siren song.

So we went. We left Friday morning and thoroughly enjoyed the two-hour drive to the mountains, and when we got there, we did the usual: Mast General Store, shopping, eating, more shopping on Main Street. It was comfort food for the weary soul.

We got up early Saturday morning, shared a huge breakfast omelet and then made the up-mountain trek to Art in the Park. We took in the art, the crafts, the fresh perspective — Lexington had faded into another dimension. We were giddy with...

"Hey guys," said the voice from thin mountain air. "Are you having fun?"

There's no escaping Lexington with John Horne (left), Lee Jessup and myself.
I couldn't believe it. Standing there in front of me were my good friends John Horne and Lee Jessup, with their wives, Lisa and Mary Jo. Oh my gosh. It was like that moment in the Christopher Reeve movie "Somewhere in Time" where Reeve's character discovers a 1979 penny and is suddenly thrust back into the present after self-hypnotically falling in love with a woman in 1912, never to return (hey, it's a sci-fi romantic time-travel saga too complicated to explain here). It was like we were suddenly back in Lexing-TON.

Actually,  it was kind of amazing. Back in June, I'd encountered the Jessups in Gettysburg. Then, about a month or so after that, I was in the same vehicle with Lee as we made a Civil War Round Table trip to Appomattox. Boom, boom, boom. Jessups everywhere I turn.

That wasn't all. Later in the day we bumped into Jim and Gayle Burke. We also learned that our dentist, Sim Siceloff, was meandering somewhere on the mountain. I was starting to think Kim and I needed to get in the car and drive yet another 100 miles or so, maybe into Tennessee or Virginia. It probably wouldn't have helped.

I sound like I'm being harsh with my friends, but not really. It was just that the whole meeting thing was totally unexpected. In fact, there was a moment later on Saturday when Kim and I were in the park at Blowing Rock where an amazing free concert was presented by the Grandfather Mountain Highlanders, dressed to the hilt in kilts and brandishing bagpipes and drums. We arrived in time to hear several Scottist laments. Then someone requested Amazing Grace. I go jelly-kneed with Amazing Grace anyway, but to hear it live with bagpipes, oh my. It started off as a bagpipe solo, then reached a soaring crescendo when the other 10 pipers joined in for the final stanza.

I teared up. I suddenly wished my friends were there to hear this. I wanted them there.

As it was, the rest of the weekend belonged to Kim and me. We recharged the emotional and psychological batteries. We had breakfast at the Daniel Boone Inn, and then got back into town in time for the annual neighborhood picnic. No Jessups were in sight.

But we did run into the Burkes.

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