There in the highlands, clear weather held for much of the time. The air lacked its usual haze, and the view stretched on and on across rows of blue mountains, each paler than the last until the final ranks were indistinguishable from the sky. It was as if all the world might be composed of nothing but valley and ridge. ― Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain
I live in the mountains, and have for over 40 years. Well, maybe I don’t exactly live IN the mountains, but all I have to do is look out my window and I see the mountains. Well, I don’t actually SEE the mountains if I look out my window, but I do if I walk down to the end of my street. You get the picture. Denver is at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. What’s more, our Arizona house also has a beautiful view (at least from the front yard of our house) of Superstition Mountain.
All this is to say that I am familiar with mountains, and I can tell you that they are all very different. My grandmother, who grew up in Switzerland, was content with the Rocky Mountains; still, she always said that it was the Grand Teton Mountains in northwestern Wyoming that most reminded her of the Alps. Go figure…..
Give a big sigh of relief, because I’m finally getting to my point. While visiting Bill’s brother in Winston-Salem this past week, we drove one day to the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, and they are like no mountains with which I’m familiar. We took a day trip to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and it made my Mitford-loving heart happy……
For those of you who don’t know, Mitford is the fictitious town about which author Jan Karon writes in her lovely series featuring Father Tim, a retired Episcopalian priest. The books are just about my favorite book series ever, and Mitford is where I want to live. It’s where everyone who reads these books wants to live. And it’s based on Blowing Rock, North Carolina…..
The town of Blowing Rock admittedly didn’t remind me much of Mitford. There is probably no town on earth that would remind me of Mitford, because towns like Mitford only exist in literary fiction. There is no town like Mayberry. There is no Stars Hollow apart from Gilmore Girls. Still, the drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains was amazingly beautiful. Almost heaven. The weather was perfect; the town bustled with activity; lunch was al fresco. What more could a person ask?
I had quietly cogitated about the idea of going to Blowing Rock during our visit, but said nothing. Why would two men who have never read a Mitford novel care one iota about driving an hour-and-a-half to see this town? But the topic of reading came up at a business lunch (yes, Bill and I did have one business-related activity while in NC), and I was asked what I was reading. I told them honestly that I had just started the most recent Mitford novel called To Be Where You Are, and explained that the book took place in a fictitious town based on Blowing Rock.
Squeals from one of the women with whom we were meeting. Well, since it was a business lunch, maybe squeals isn’t entirely accurate. Nevertheless, it seems that she had recently visited the community with her husband, and gave it a thumbs up.
Would you like to go, Bruce asked me. Why, I hadn’t given it a minute of thought, but now that you mention it….., I lied. And so we found ourselves a couple of days later driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Blowing Rock…..
I spent the entire day looking for Jan Karon. I looked in stores. I peered around the restaurant in which we had our lunch. I didn’t see her and didn’t actually expect that I would. I have subsequently found out that she now lives in Virginia. Apparently Father Tim didn’t go along with her.
It was a very fun day, and one I won’t soon forget.