I had a friend once, a former co-worker, who lived with his family in a tiny little valley tucked away in the north Georgia mountains. Whether he still lives there I have no idea. It’s been years since I’ve seen him. But I had two very pleasant visits with him and his family. and recall how beautiful the scenery was.
They lived down a gravel road that wound past a few other houses and ended at the base of a small mountain or hill — I don’t know what you call it — down which a creek flowed past the edge of their four-acre property. A deck overlooked Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia, and it was there that we’d spend hours at night sitting with our feet propped up again the railing, looking at the stars and moon, and fireflys flickering on and off in the distance. And talking. We did a lot of that. All of this occurred during two road trip visits up there earlier almost exactly two decades ago.
The place was idyllic. It had tall hickory trees in the front yard and thick woods surrounding the house. A clearing on the other side of the road contained their small vineyard, berry patch and vegetable garden, which they harvested abundantly each summer.
Rhododendrons and mountain laurel bloomed in spring and summer. It was so quiet there, it made you feel like you were far out in the country. And, in fact, you were .
This pastoral setting reminded me of something one of my favorite artists John Ford Clymer, who painted many Americana covers for Saturday Evening post, would choose for one of his illustrative creations.
He lived and worked in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in eastern Washington. There is something timeless about his scenes, as you can tell from the image I linked too. That’s the way I felt about my friend’s place in the north Georgia mountains.
One late afternoon, we went down to the clearing by the vegetable garden to pick cherries from a single cherry tree that was literally loaded with the most sweet/tart REAL tasting fruit I can remember savoring in a long, long time. My friend was up on a ladder plucking cherries from the top branches, while I had the easier job of getting the fruit I could reach from the ground. The “low-hanging fruit,” as they say. We talked the whole time about the place where we used to work together, and from where I retired six years ago, and reminisced about the people we knew and the good times we shared.
That evening, as the sun was setting, we went back to the house, and there on the counter was a fresh-baked cherry pie, made, of course, with that very same fruit. Never has a pie tasted so good. I sat out on the deck with a slice of that succulent treat as the night settled in, thinking about the simple things in life, and how nice it was to have the luxury of experiencing a place so different from my own home.
Cherry picking is fun.