September and October are golden months in Maine – daytime highs in the 70s in September, 50s/60s in October with the dark and cold of winter seeming like Stephen King fiction. (Sounds like somebody is ready for some Vitamin C [that is Vitamin California!])
But this year in late October we are traveling; we have our Wedding of the Year in Asheville, North Carolina. You see, my college roommate Big Steve and his wife Amelia’s older son, the stunningly handsome Brandon is marrying the breathtaking Ashley.
Ah, the American South in October. With many opportunities to hike and play pickleball, the fall has none of the heat and humidity of its summer. Here come the Mainers.
Landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Hannah and I drive northeast for three days of pickling and card playing with our Yonah Mountain brethren and sistren (sistren is an actual word). After Laurie, Linda, Pat, and Clarissa once again take us in as pickleball family, we motor two hours north to the North Carolina/South Carolina border to hang out with our sister-in-law Becky and her guy Derek.
Becky married Hannah’s brother Doug in 1982; he farmed buffalo, make that bison, and she taught piano in central New York. Unbelievably seventeen years ago, Doug, as fit as anyone we knew, died in a matter of weeks of glioblastoma (brain cancer).
At his memorial service, among many others, I eulogized him with this quote from Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach – Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished; If you’re alive, it isn’t. Doug profoundly touched many people and his work was done at 56.
Moving to Portland, Maine from New York, Becky lived 45 minutes north of us in York, which allowed us to have monthly sleepovers, either at her place or ours.
After Maine, Becky moved to the little liberal burg of Tryon, NC with her guy Derek to make a life together. So when Brandon and Ashley scheduled their wedding an hour north of Tryon in Asheville, we had one more reason to renew our kinship with Becky – and more sleepovers.
On our first morning together, Becky takes us to the Palmetto Trail, ten minutes from their home, a trail that crosses South Carolina from northwest to southeast ending on the coast near Charleston.
Driving around Lake Lanier, we park at a trailhead on a Thursday morning in late October for a walk in the woods, past a waterfall, and into the mountains. Let these pictures and iPhone video illuminate this magnificent trail with our magnificent Becky.
By the way, a palmetto is just what you think it would be – a smaller version of a palm tree.