What a great weekend!! Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of my first date with my husband. Wow… I never would have imagined how my world would change over the following months. On the day we celebrated our anniversary, we were blessed to meet, for the first time in real life, the delightful woman who started it all. (You may remember that story.) I’ve enjoyed getting to know Dietke, and learning about her amazing talents, through Facebook, and was so happy to meet her and her husband, Chris, on Saturday.
Dietke, Steve and I. We love her!!!
The event that brought us together was none other than the 2nd Annual Hillbilly Hippiefest, hosted by Michael and Linda, (baby brother and sister-in-law) at their farm in the South Carolina mountains. Lots of folks brought their tents and camping gear, and settled in for the weekend. Steve and I were unsure about whether we’d get to go due to work issues, and unfortunately, there’s a nasty kidney stone that’s giving Steve some trouble this week too. We were so happy that it worked out for us to go. I had never been to the farm before, though I had seen a few pictures, and couldn’t wait to check it out.
For those who don’t know my brother, let me tell you a little about him (but first my dad), and why the farm is so important. Our dad is one of the most amazing men alive, and honestly, could make it in the wilderness with nothing but a knife and a canteen. He could build a shack out of twigs, and feed himself with wild berries and roots. He could catch a fish from the stream with his bare hands and build a fire with two sticks and a rock. Get the picture? He’s a very self-sufficient kind of man, and knows a little bit about most things, and an awful lot about a lot of things. He is absolutely right when he shakes his head at “these kids today”, who wouldn’t survive one week if they had to “make do” for themselves.
My brother got his DNA. He can do anything. If he can’t do it, he’ll Google it and figure out how to do it. For several years, he and Linda have been looking for a patch of land in the mountains, in the hopes of building a farm and retiring there. I don’t know the details of how they came across this particular patch of land, but purchase it they did, and are in the process of turning it into a self-sustaining farm. There are a couple of streams on the property, a nice valley or two (I only saw the front side of the property; there’s another valley on the back side of their mountain.) They have moved a small cabin onto the property to serve as their living quarters when they go up to work on the farm. When the farmhouse is completed, the cabin will be the guest quarters. The really cool thing about their plans, is that the farm will be completely self-sustaining. Solar panels will provide the electricity, they will grow their own food, and grass-feed their animals. Another goal is to make it a teaching farm, where they can bring folks in and teach them how to grow their own organic food, and how to can and preserve the food. At home in Atlanta, he makes his own wine, and is planning to grow his own grapes at the farm someday. He makes his own bread, and will one day grow his own grain and mill it as well. You can read more about it in his own words here. Check it out. He is amazing.
And so we spent the afternoon and evening with Michael, Linda, my nephew Ryan, and LUCY was in the house! …um… on the farm. The weather was PERFECT, and the afternoon was clear and crisp. As the evening wore on, sweaters, sweatshirts, mittens, scarves and blankets were brought out, and we gathered the hay bales closer to the fire. There are few things finer than a roaring bonfire on a clear, cold night, and the laughter of friends. With the wine tasting over, and the appetizers enjoyed, it was time to turn attention to dinner. Michael had built a smoker, and all afternoon the aroma of ribs, chicken, and pork tempted our taste buds, and finally it was time to load our plates. Oh, the food! In addition to the aforementioned meat, there were several varieties of soup, pasta, vegetables, and desert. After dinner we sat around to let the food settle and watch the fire crackle and pop in the night. The full moon was teasing us with brightening of the sky just over the ridge of the mountain, ready to spill its light into the valley. Baby Lucy was tucked away inside the cabin, a tired little pumpkin after running around all afternoon breathing the fresh country air. All the doggies were snuggled at the feet of their respective owners, and Scottie, Michael and Linda’s pooch, had found a nice warm spot in my lap underneath the blanket. The night was filled with sounds of the wood popping and sizzling, friends laughing and talking, and at one point the loud bangs of fireworks. We enjoyed a very nice display of streams of color streaking in the sky, and my favorite ones, the tiny explosions with the sparkles trickling down like a waterfall. Big, fat sparklers were passed around and the smiling faces of friends having fun lit up the darkness.
My very favorite moment, however, was when we all released sky lanterns, and they floated up, up, and away into the night. I had never seen this done before. It was amazing. Sky lanterns are very fragile miniature hot-air-balloon-like lanterns made up of tissue paper and a small, lightweight ring of wire at the bottom. There’s a square of some kind of slow-burning, wax combustible material attached to the bottom. You fluff up the lantern, light the square on fire, and hold the lantern upright and let it fill with air. The hot air will inflate the tissue-paper lantern, and when it’s full, you simply release it and it floats silently and gracefully up into the air. They are designed to burn for about 12 minutes, and can go several miles high into the sky. Linda invited us to make a wish on our lantern, or meditate and perhaps symbolically release something from our lives that binds us and “let it go”, as the lanterns floated upward. I sent my lantern heavenward with love and hugs for Delores. There were around 40 people who released the lanterns, and the moment was quiet and somewhat reverent, with whispers of “awesome!”, “cool!” being the only sounds for a minute or so, as we all gazed upward to watch the slow ascent of the lights. They traveled silently northward, then when they reached the altitude coinciding with the top of the ridge, a breeze changed their direction and they began to float silently toward the east. Higher and higher they floated, until they looked like stars in the night. Amazing. I want to do this again!!
After the lanterns floated out of sight, Michael lit some luminary bags and placed them around the perimeter of the party area. We left shortly afterward for the drive home, and as we reached the road and looked back down into the valley, we could see the luminaries scattered about the farm, and the shadows of the people gathered once again around the bonfire.
It was a fabulous day. I’m so happy for Michael and Linda, to be able to see their dreams come true. I can’t wait to see how the farm progresses, and look forward to spending lots of quality time there with family and friends in the future.
Here are a few photos that I took of the farm. My friends Dietke and Chris (both professional photographers) took photos of the fireworks and sky lanterns. I will add those pictures when they are available, so be sure to come back and take a look.
The front acreage from the main road
Our gracious host and hostess
View from the front porch of the cabin.