Tuesday, September 29, 2009

North Carolina

Ashley and I took a short trip to North Carolina last week to care for our cousin's children while she and her husband were away. We returned home last night after 6 days in a small college town. While there wasn't an abundance of entertainment or shopping where we were located, there also wasn't a lack of life's simple things to do and enjoy, things such as walking to the grocery store every day (why drive when it's only 6 blocks away?); taking a run or walk around the college's 100 year old East Campus, where a gravel path is bordered with a stone wall on one side and stately trees on the other; indulging in delicious coffee and pastries (all organic and/or local ingredients) from local restaurants; seeing a wonderful friend who made time to drive in and visit with me over the weekend; taking in a delightful children's museum; visiting a vintage clothing store and an old bookshop on a rainy day; and spending time with little cousins who can deplete your energy level faster than you can blink.

While I missed my home (maybe, more specifically, the family that makes my home what it is), I can't say that I missed the area in which I live; a place on the map known for it's consumerism and shopping overkill, it's amusement parks and ginormous stadiums. It is an area with so much pointless entertainment to offer that people often complain when they don't get to visit the movie theater more than a couple of times a week, or feel that for stay-cations they have to go down the road to the massive, uber-expensive hotel with the indoor water park so that their kids won't be "bored" and deprived of endless entertainment.

I have to say that I simply cannot fathom the seeming inability of function that people experience when deprived of tv, aimless shopping, and amusement park day passes. The word "bored" gets bandied around quite a bit, but I personally feel as though I have yet to know what boredom is. If you can learn to appreciate the solitary moments that a porch swing can offer you on a crisp fall day, or the stillness of a morning when the only sounds are those of birds singing so far above you in trees that you cannot see them, or the gentle pelting of the rain against the roof and windows, or the sunlight filtering through the trees as you amble down a leaf-strewn sidewalk - if you can hear, see, and feel the life in God's creation around you, then you will never, ever know boredom again. And yes, you can experience it wherever you are. I may not be able to enjoy the changing of the seasons like other parts of the country, but I can sit outside and take in a hummingbird gathering nectar around the garden, monarch butterflies filling the air on their way to Mexico, bees gathering pollen from my mom's flowers, and the breath-taking sunsets or gathering storms visible from the kitchen window. I can enjoy the feel of a book in my hands, the pleasure of turning the pages and getting lost in a good story, and a delicious cup of tea while I reflect in my journal.

I must confess I am tired of the ridiculous contest Americans challenge each other with: the "who can be busiest and have the least amount of time on any given day" game. Why can't we enjoy a simple life with simple pleasures; why do we feel the need to be so busy, distracted, and frantic in our daily lives?

That said (rant ponderings over now), I was glad to be there and not have to be anywhere, and I'm looking forward with great anticipation to another week of delightful simplicity when my family heads off to Maine next Tuesday. In the meantime, some pictures as a reward for making it this far through my ramblings. :)

Yes, that IS a Caribou Coffee! I tried a delectable drink that was more dessert than beverage: a mint mocha topped with whipped cream and Andes mints. yum!! I had to share with Ashley as I couldn't possibly finish it on my own.

One of many tree lined streets. Actually, it being North Carolina, there aren't any streets that don't have trees lining them.
Better even than discovering a Caribou Coffee nearby was finding a Trader Joe's! We had no idea there was one nearby, so when we spotted it we braked and swerved but missed the turn in, so we sped on to the next exit, somehow managed to find our way back, and did some damage to our wallets before heading back to pick up little cousin #1 from school.

At the children's musuem of Life and Science, this was part of an exhibit! It is an example of how math is involved/used in quilting. I was won over after seeing it. Another example of math using knitting would have made my visit complete, but one can't have it all. :)

This alligator's stare was almost unnerving. He looked as though he were plotting an escape from the tank and a revenge attack on the visitors gawking at him...

Sunday morning on East Campus. I was trying to capture the auditorium centering the main campus drive and unfortunately just captured a part of it peeking from behind trees off in the distance. Oh well.

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