A clock on the wall ticks rhythmically. It’s the only sound I hear in the otherwise quiet of this early morning.
I’ve got a cup of coffee in my hands as I take in the unfamiliar space around me. The silence is remarkable, not a peep even from a bird.
How is it that I am awake before the birds this morning?
The Poodle is curled up into a tight ball in front of the kitchen door. He is not home yet still he slumbers completely at ease as if it’s been his spot for years. He has joined me on this last-minute get-away to visit Miss Cookie, my friend of more than forty-some years.
As I sip my coffee in the darkness of Miss Cookie’s comforting kitchen I rewind to some mornings ago when I decided on my impromptu adventure….
“….and I know you’ve got work and can’t take off so I’m gonna manage it solo,” I told Rocket-man as I laid out my plan.
“What about The Poodle?” He asked.
“Well of course he is coming with me,” I answered. Of course he’d be useless as my navigator but perhaps he’d help me stay awake.
The next day The Poodle knew something was afoot. He didn’t let me out of his sight as I went about the business of packing my sweet-green Patagonia duffel bag. Then, when he saw me bring up his travel bag from the basement, he was jazzed beyond measure.
Yee-haw are we going somewhere? his entire body asked as his feather-duster of a tail wagged excitedly.
The Poodle is literally busting with energy as he jumps on me, pawing me with questioning eyes: Where, oh where, oh where are we going?!
Little does he know that it’s not going to be a quick jaunt. He’s in for a five-hour car ride to North Carolina with his nervous ninny upright navigating solo.
I load my bag into the car along with The Poodle’s bag which contains his food and water dish and other canine necessities. I didn’t even have to say “Go Car,”…he jumped into the backseat before I barely had time to situate his travel blanket.
“How funny you are my poodle-love, I remarked as I took stock of our travel gear. “You jumped up with the swiftness of a puppy and yet you move like an ancient when I want you to go out for a walk!”
With hugs and kisses to hubby and promises from him that he would keep his cell phone glued to his hip and the ringer set to full volume during my trip The Poodle and I set off on our little adventure.
The drive down was fairly uneventful until two hours in, around Richmond, at which point the heavens opened up. Heavy rain intermittently followed me for most of another three hours virtually until the turn into Miss Cookie’s neighborhood when the sun returned through a cloudy haze.
I let out a long, slow breath as I pulled into her driveway. I did it! Praise be to technology; without a good navigation system there’s no telling where The Poodle and I would have ended up.
It was lovely to spend time with Miss Cookie and her husband Steve. He’s a gem of a guy with the added plus that he rocks a bow-tie for business attire better than any GQ man I’ve seen. For three days I was wined and dined as well as chauffeured to parts around the area. For one, I was in search of dinner plates that I’ve had on my mind for a couple of years so we visited ten or more pottery studios around Seagrove, North Carolina, whose claim to fame is being “The Handmade Pottery Capital of the United States.” It’s a must-see stop.
You can see for yourself via this link: http://www.heartofnorthcarolina.com/cities-and-towns/seagrove.htm
It was both curious and fascinating to meet talented potters living out in the country.
One potter had the most amazing lily pond in front of her shop and another young woman with sparkling eyes and a happy glow about her had her dog Lola as her sidekick in her quaint shop. I purchased a small decorative plate from her that caught my eye because the colors screamed happy to me.
We also made a pit stop to an Art center in town. After a lunch of mixed greens adorned with grilled chicken Miss Cookie took me on a quick tour of a pottery classroom. I knew that she had recently taken up pottery but didn’t know her husband has also been attending classes.
“Wow, I’m mighty impressed,” I tell my friend with sincere awe. The large classroom was both neat and messy at the same time. Rows of bowls, cups and other items in various stages of completion lined floor-to-ceiling shelves. I learned that potters are extremely generous folks. The Seagrove potters donate thousands to charity. And in this particular pottery studio/classroom in nearby Greensboro, many of tables filled with soup bowls that had already been fired will be donated to soup kitchens.
I watched a woman who looked to be in her late 60’s as she sat etching a pattern onto a mug. “That’s lovely, I say, adding “the only thing I’ve ever created are two kids.”
“Oh, this…this is just doodling. You can do this too,” she said looking up at me matter-of-factually. Well I know my sis would be a natural at this….but could I….ever? I wondered.
Later that night Steve managed to grill us up some delicious steaks in between bouts of pouring rain while Miss Cookie prepared veggies and a dessert to die for. In fact, days later, I’m still dreaming of Miss Cookie’s delightfully decadent chocolate Texas sheet cake. A three-mile walk the next morning didn’t make much of a dent in the calories I consumed, but honestly, I cared not; I’d go face-down in that chocolate dream every night if I could!
I tagged along one morning when Miss Cookie had to keep a vet appointment for her cat Diego who had recently undergone surgery. The doctor was pleased that Diego was recovering quiet nicely. He also talked and talked….and talked (in fact, I think he may well be still talking).
There were interesting sights as well on the day before my return home as we spent a lovely afternoon visiting historic Old Salem, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The town is rich in history and one afternoon was not enough time to soak it all in. For lunch we stopped at The Tavern in Old Salem. The family restaurant was built in 1816 as an annex to the 1784 Tavern. It is still a family owned restaurant today with a menu inspired by the Moravian families that lived in Salem in the 19th century. I made a mental note to read up about the Moravians and the symbol of their church, the Moravian Star. It is my limited understanding that the Moravian religion developed as breakaway protestant religion out of Germany and it’s been around for some five-hundred years.
For lunch at The Tavern I stepped out of my usual fare and ordered grilled bratwurst over mashed potatoes with a side of sauerkraut. Rocket-man scratched his head over this to be sure; I’ve always been emphatic about my disdain for that sour cabbage, but it wasn’t bad. I fell in love though with the spicy wasabi mustard; it provided a terrific explosion of flavor that was a wonderful compliment to the wurst. I left feeling wonderfully satisfied, not to mention proud that I had enough restraint to skip on the pie that was screaming my name from the kitchen below. After lunch, as we walked through more of the historic district I knew that I’d have to make a second trip to this little town.
The drive back home was nail-biting. Miss Cookie now has a second moniker to her name: “WC”, as in Weather Channel. The Poodle kept one eye open from the back seat while I drove white knuckled through practically a non-stop deluge of rain. I missed a turn in the confusion of consecutive eighteen-wheeler trucks passing me causing a moment of near blinding conditions as water splashed the windshield. At one point, I nearly threw in the towel as a voice in my head shouted “Go Back!” because there was so much water on the road. I kept my hazard lights on because visibility was that poor. WC called several times, keeping me posted on the constant torrent of rain hammering the area. As I neared Fredericksburg, VA things were definitely better with bright spots of blue sky amongst the heavy gray and only an occasional drizzle to give notice to. I was feeling mighty fine about everything until WC called once again. “Where are you,” she asked without preamble.
“Oh, I’m doing just fine,” I answered. It’s not raining; the worst is thankfully behind me.”
“Are you near Fredericksburg?” she asked.
Hmm. Is she tracking my car?
“As a matter of fact, I am.”
“What exit are you close to?” she pushes further.
“I’ve no idea. I just know I’m within five or so miles.”
“Listen, I’ve been watching The Weather Channel and there is a tornado about ready to cross I-95 in Fredericksburg.”
Oh good grief!
I look to my left and see that westward is indeed not a pretty sight.
How is it I’m just noticing how deathly menacing the sky looks?!
WC’s voice cuts through my thoughts. “They say it is going to cross somewhere around exit 142,” she says. “Where are you?!”
“Oh lovely….I’ve just passed exit 138! So…Okay then: instead of Dorothy and Toto, it’s CC and The Poodle flying off to Kansas,” I tell her trying to keep fear out of my voice.
She tells me to be careful and we say our goodbyes. I step on the gas pedal and throw caution to the wind setting cruise control to nine miles over the speed limit. “Let’s outrun this!” I say to The Poodle as I change the car radio channel from Sirius XM’s The Bridge to Symphony Hall.
Ah yes. How about Franz Joseph Haydn to get me through the rest of the drive.
Before I roll into the driveway carrying another deluge with me straight into the garage, I get not one but two more calls from Rocket-man providing “doomsday” weather updates. Between sis, Miss Cookie/WC and Rocket-man, how lucky I am to have people who care for my safety!
A good five minutes later, after a welcome back hug from hubby and settling The Poodle with a bowl of fresh water I was out on the screened-in porch with a glass of wine in hand. As I began to relax from the long drive I called Miss Cookie to let her know I had made it through the crazy weather and to thank her once again for a lovely visit. Moments later she texted a picture of the downward slope just beyond her back yard. The non-stop rain had turned the area into quite a lake. Wowza!
Next adventure you ask?
Bliss. Am I right? Oh yeah!