A little more than a month ago, the Mister and I took Little and Middle to the Great State of Tennessee to visit my parents. Although it was early April, the weather turned chilly and drear, but nevertheless we had a grand time.
While the children enjoyed a sound spoiling by their grandparents (sleeping in, biscuits and gravy for breakfast), the Mister and I met my longtime friend, M, for coffee. M and I met in high school, and we have been friends ever since.
She is my straight-talking friend who can tell me I’m being whiny or unreasonable, and I know she’s telling me the truth. She will also tell me when I’m being taken advantage of or when I’m not having enough fun. She will tell me if a skirt is too short or a lipstick is too bright—before I buy it! I tell her all the same stuff when necessary, and—best of all—we make each other laugh uproariously! We used to talk almost daily; now sometimes weeks go by, but we always pick right back up. After a long coffee break with M that turned into lunch (thanks to the Mister for being so understanding!), the Mister and I headed south on I-75 to visit some friends and explore Chattanooga.Pardon me, boys . . . Yes, it’s the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. This iconic sign glows high above Chattanooga’s lovely downtown. The Chattanooga train depot, or terminal, is today a part of the Historic Hotels of America. Guests may stay in a standard room in the historic terminal or in one of 48 refurbished Victorian train cars.
Not far from the Choo-Choo is the beautiful and winding Tennessee River. Although Chattanooga was once a rather dirty, industrial town, city leaders along with corporate partners and private citizens have created one of the most attractive downtowns in the South, with beautiful green spaces, a thriving retail and dining district, and a fun and funky arts district, referred to as the North Shore. A huge walking bridge spans the river, connecting the retail and dining district with the arts district, which is nearby the noted Hunter Museum of Art. Near the bridge, the Delta Queen docks between dinner and sightseeing cruises.The Mister and I strolled a bit and even visited a large “antique” mall, which sadly was a huge disappointment, but we did find Chattanooga’s downtown grocery GreenLife, which provided a good place for a cup of coffee and a cookie.Shortly after, we met our friends, who like us, own a fair trade Go Fish store. After checking out their store and comparing notes on merchandising ideas, staff incentives, and other more boring business stuff, we walked to the nearby Urban Spoon, where we enjoyed a delicious Southern supper with a modern twist. Not on the menu, but prepared just for us that evening, was the chef’s invention of a Moon Pie banana pudding. Turns out that Chattanooga is the home of the classic Southern cookie, known as the Moon Pie. Although, I’m not its biggest fan, it made a wonderful substitution for the traditional Nilla Wafer. The Mister and I waddled to the car to head back to my folks’.
The next day, we went with my dad to visit my aunt and uncle who have recently moved to an apartment at a lovely retirement community. Although, it is an adjustment to leave their home and neighborhood, they are enjoying the views of the Great Smoky Mountains as well as the numerous activities available at their home. We spent the afternoon walking in the woods behind my parents’ house. Although the dogwoods had already shed their blossoms, it was still beautiful to be amid all the brilliant spring green of the Tennessee woods.
The property we walked has been in my father’s family since the 1830s, and it is one of his great joys to share the history he knows and the memories he has of the area. He is both sentimental and practical about his woods, as seen from his woodshed.He’s been selectively cutting timber to heat their house for more than 20 years, mostly hickory with the occasional oak.
If you are very lucky, you may receive a bundle of cured hardwood kindling for a Christmas present. An organized man, which he attributes to his time at sea with the U.S. Navy, he marks the wood as to the date the tree was cut and follows the first-in, first-out method for burning.
Although we visited in April, I was truly glad that it was still chilly enough for crackling fire that evening. And biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Do you visit family often?