The Roadhouse

I have been on the road a lot this summer. It is one of the things I love about my new job. Although I officially started this position last September, I was paid as a contractor last summer so I could begin attending the yearly meetings and conferences. So, this is my second summer on the road. I love it. I love meeting people, some whose names I see on social media posts and on checks that come in as donations. This being the second summer, I have gotten to see some people for the second time around, and experience the joy of recognition and catching up.

This year, one of the trips was to Toledo, Ohio. Because of the amount of stuff I was bringing with me and because this particular event was for a full week, I drove. It turns out, West Virginia is about half-way in between Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Toledo, Ohio. I found an airbnb that looked just right, and booked a night both for on the way up, and for on the way back.

It was perfect. There were three separate buildings for travelers on a working strawberry farm (although this was not strawberry season). As much as I love people, I love quiet and fireflies and bats in twilight, too. The accommodations were amazing and private (I stayed in a different building for each of the stays). I thought those aspects were my favorite things.

But, it turns out, it was breakfast that has called to my reflections. Not all airbnbs offer a home-cooked, full breakfast with the addition of home-grown cantaloupe and berries. The hostess, there, did. There was one long dining table in a dining room that was just for us, the guests.* The first morning meal on my way to Ohio I shared with various members of a family who had traveled together from Oklahoma for the funeral of the beloved family patriarch in a nearby West Virginia town and with another lady who was returning from visiting her children and grandchildren. The morning meal on my way back home to North Carolina was shared with two graduate student friends who had met halfway in their journey back to UNC-Chapel Hill. They were both studying library science with a focus on archives.

It was this, rather than the old buildings and furniture, that transported me back in time as a lone traveler on the road, meeting other fellow travelers at a pause in our journeys. At hotels, there is often the offer of a “continental breakfast,” but the food is of varying degrees of freshness, never cooked just for me, and often grabbed on the way out the door. Even at a “regular” bed and breakfast, it is often so easy to sit at a small table with family and friends or alone. Rarely do I find the long communal wood dining table of an inn and the food cooked by the innkeeper.

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*Unfortunately (or fortunately), I did not take a photo of the dining room.

This post is not written as a “review.” However, for those who would like to know, the airbnb was Country Road House and Berries in Clendenin, West, Virginia. I also bought a jar of strawberry preserves, and it has been a delight. (Obviously, not being the hostess, I make no guarantees about continued offerings.)

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My Perfect Labyrinth

Have you ever had a time when you just felt in sync with where and what you should be doing? Last weekend was wonderful that way. Don’t get me wrong, it was also exhausting. But, sometimes, the two things can coexist.

We had a board meeting on Saturday for Quaker House. I had worked hard and had two extra reports that represented significant effort and had, likewise, required quite a bit of attention to detail. I stayed up late the night before to make the house more accommodating to the dog sitter spending some time here and left early in the morning for the two-hour drive. The board meeting went well. I am always amazed by the dedication of our board members.

I got to my hotel room, let my daughter know I was out of the board meeting and to text me when I could come over, and them promptly crashed, full out, in the bed, under the covers. When my daughter texted, I went over to her place to spend a few hours catching up with her and my son-in-law. I love spending time with them. Amazing, crazy, motivated kids who keep me on my toes intellectually with their insights into their world and their open hearts.

Sunday, I got to go to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and to Worship with Spring Friends. I have not worshiped with them since August and I have missed them! During the business meeting, a local cat was wandering around in the snow and was welcomed in to share our breakfast, warmth, and discussions.

Cat acting as assistant recording clerk.

Finally, before beginning the two-hour drive back to Fayettteville, I had seen the pleasant forecast and brought a change of clothes so that I could visit the Shallow Ford Trail again. I have not found my perfect trail in Fayetteville, and I was really missing Shallow Ford. Two people warned me, “It’ll be muddy and wet.” “It’s okay. I brought my muddy and wet shoes.” The second I stepped onto the foot bridge over a tiny creek that begins the trail and heard the gurgling of the water over bits of ice and rocks, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Shallow Ford, like many trails through wooded areas, winds back and forth and round and about. It goes uphill and downhill. Sometimes, there are trees that have come down and have not been cleared away, yet.

We have mindfulness classes at Quaker House and, the first Thursday of the month, Holy Trinity opens their beautiful labyrinth to the public. That labyrinth is peaceful and serene. It makes up the floor of the sanctuary, is lit by votive candles artistically placed around it, and you can hear the trickling water of the baptismal font. It leaves nothing to be desired in beauty and in inviting a clear mind.

I have also walked an outdoor labyrinth at Stony Point Center in New York. It is simpler, but makes up for that simpleness by being outside.

I have been trying to love labyrinths, to confine my feet to their intricate patterns. But, now I finally realize, my perfect labyrinth is laid out in the winding trails through wooded areas along rivers and tributaries, up hills and down slopes, over rocks and around occasionally fallen trees. My perfect labyrinth is of the more wild variety.