A perfect day in the mountains…for me.

I like sitting on my porch on a day like today when the the sky is that perfect North Carolina blue, the sun is warm on my face, but a spring time breeze is still cool enough to require an extra layer.  My preferred spot isn’t in on of the “directors” chairs we head to at the end of the day where we sit and enjoy the amazing view of the mountains and watch the sun set paint the sky in shades of blues and pinks. On days like today I much prefer my spot on the steps off our deck that leads to our back yard.  The wood has absorbed the heat of the sun and it shares it with me as I lean against the railing for support. I put my head back, close my eyes, and let my other senses take over.  We are blessed to live in a place where, on most days, the only sounds we hear are the rustling trees and the birds. On occasion there may be the sound of tires on a gravel road somewhere near by or of a plane passing overhead, but otherwise, this is the quietest most peaceful spot I have ever lived in my 60-some years. 

Here on my perch, I stretch out my legs as much as I can and use my bent knees to support a book or a favorite magazine. On this particular day, my choice is the latest edition of Garden & Gun, a magazine I never would have chosen on my own, based on the name alone. But I received it as a gift subscription last year and can now no longer do without it. The magazine is based in Charleston, South Carolina and its pages are filled with articles, recipes, stories, and all things southern.  I look forward to its arrival like an old family friend.

The sun glares off the white pages and since reading glasses are a necessity, sunglasses are not an option. I don’t mind really. For reasons unknown to me, I enjoy getting familiar with the contents of a magazine before I delve into reading it page by page.  It’s a lot like reading a restaurant menu.  I look at each offering deciding if it sounds like something I might like, how it is prepared, how many calories might be hiding in the dish, and what it costs. I do all this before considering the next item on the menu. Eventually I narrow down my options and make a choice. 

So it is with me and magazines. I love a good book and welcome those times when I can lose myself in a good story. But books pretty much force the reader to start on page one and follow each page in succession lest they lose the story line. Not magazines.  I can start on the back cover and work my way to the front without missing a thing. On this first pass I notice ads but I might be compelled to read an article if it is a short one or holds some immediate interest for me. More than likely I scan it quickly, making a mental note about the subject matter and file until I have the time an opportunity to read it. It isn’t until I have flipped backwards through all the pages that I decide what I want to read first, and not necessarily in any particular order.

One of the many things that I appreciate about Garden & Gun is the writing. The articles are more like short stories that waste no time grabbing my attention and holding it until the last word. Most issues have some story involving a dog so naturally I go there first. Today, though, my attention lingered in the recipe section where a fresh blackberry and peach cobbler recipe caught my eye. Peaches, juicy ripe berries, and luscious tomatoes are the only reason I tolerate summer and this particular recipe recalled me to my mother’s kitchen and summers growing up in the south. Peach cobbler was a staple in our house when peaches were in season. I can still remember the soft bite of a fresh peach swimming in sweet cinnamon laced juice, perfectly thickened and topped with flaky pie dough. A spot of butter or a scoop of vanilla ice cream made it all the better. My mom is passed now but seeing that recipe and remembering the days when the smell of peach cobbler filled her kitchen fills my heart with sweet memories.

I don’t know when I will have another chance to sit on my steps again like this and do nothing but enjoy the sun and while away my time reading.  Our life is pretty busy these days trying to balance work, projects around the house, and carving out some time for friends. But when I find the opportunity I will spend it on that familiar step looking backwards at a favorite magazine, and maybe a memory or two.

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