Roots, rocks, steps, and stumps. Leaves, light, moss, and mushrooms. Mix with the earthy smell of the forest and toss in the hum of insects and birds. Let sit at a cool temperature for as long as you want.
For me, it’s a recipe for escape along any of the many mountain trails the Blue Ridge Parkway can lead you to.
And as the “mountain summer that wasn’t” transitions into fall, you’ll find it a great time to head for the woods. The squirrels and chipmunks are busy collecting stores of food for winter and even before the official Woolly Worm forecast is read, signs of a cold and snowy winter are prevalent, even as some of the best weather of the year descends upon the High Country. After a summer of record rainfall, autumn has never looked so good.
I've thought a lot about the effect of weather and the character of the people who have endured worse rain years and frigid winters. The flood of 1940 and the Blizzard of '93 come to mind. Every time folks made do and carried on as best they could. It wasn’t easy to do that this summer as Grandfather Mountain hunkered down in the face of almost 24 inches of rain in the month of July. The 57-year average total for the month is only 6 inches of rain. Still, locals and visitors, whose lives so inextricably entwine here in the High Country, tended to their business. Businesses ran and the show went on. For many, the unprecedented weather led them to different settings and places they’ve never seen before. People got to know one another a little better. Even in our outdoor summer culture, we found just how rich our region is in regard to entertainment, recreation, and just getting together with others.
I took a hike of my own today, and found a place that allowed reflection on the past 100 days here in my mountain home. Those days were filled with many memorable events, not the least of which was, ironically, the Lees-McRae Summer Theater production of “Singin’ in the Rain.” As the curtain dropped for the final time after the Saturday matinee on August 10, the audience was greeted by a raging squall as it hit the exits. Still, everyone left singing as they headed for their cars and an early supper seeming to have grudgingly accepted the rain as a their inseparable partner.
No one knows what autumn will bring, or whether or not the winter will be as cold and snowy as the Almanac suggests. I just know that whatever comes our way, we’ll make the best of it. It’s the unpredictability, and majesty, of the mountain seasons that makes our lives interesting and invigorating.
That’s why we live here. And if you can’t live here, it’s why you make it a point to come back during your favorite seasons as often as you can. But now you know the truth. There are no guarantees when Mother Nature is calling the shots. You just gotta go with it. We learned a whole lot about that during the “summer that wasn’t.”