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Eight ways from Thursday

  • Thursday, October 24, 2013



This was the third year for the eight of us. But the adventure began six Octobers ago when my sister Cynthia first took me for an autumn weekend at her Virginia hideaway. Then came my daughters Cathy and Mary Clare. Soon thereafter, we were joined by daughter-in-law Amy and her mother Kathy. Two years ago we made it three generations by adding granddaughters Anna and Grace.

This year we blazed our own New Frontier by leaving for the Blue Ridge Mountains on Thursday. This gave us two partial days of travel time and two full days to pursue shopping, absorbing the autumn color, shopping, visiting interesting places – and shopping.

Basically we stayed up as late as we wanted, got up when we felt like it, ate breakfast and supper at the house and enjoyed lunch at a variety of eateries. When we sauntered out we were swathed in the soft color of coordinated pashminas brought to us by Amy and Grace.

Our favorite food experiences included the “first chilly night chili special,” courtesy of Cynthia and the first morning breakfast of lemon-flavored scones whipped up by Cathy. By special request we ate the same supper twice. Master Salad Maker Mary Clare introduced us to one of her latest, a healthy and hearty chopped offering. It featured the basics plus almonds, avocado, jalapeno cheese, green grapes and rotisserie chicken topped with a spicy ranch dressing It was so good, she had to make another one for the next night.

And speaking of nights, we spent ours at home in our jammies, enjoying a glass of wine, watching a movie and having a joint birthday party for Kathy and Grace. Perhaps one of the most memorable activities was sharing funny family stories until we were totally exhausted by hilarity. This was boosted by a Halloween sign Amy brought for the occasion which referred to us as “Ghoul Friends!”

We spent one morning at a riverside park, where we could walk, hike, bike, ride horses or sit in a gazebo by the water, relaxing as the river slid past in a series of gentle waves. (Guess which one I opted to do with Cynthia?) We took a long drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and drank in the wonderful fall colors.

And now to the shopping, which is one of the major reasons we go up there as the merchants have wonderful seasonal sales and it’s a great place to find holiday gifts. We centered our shopping in Mt. Airy, N.C., about a half hour away. Besides gift shops, this delightful town offers arts and crafts, clothing and souvenirs, Christmas decorations, including collectible cottages and unique ornaments. Artistic Anna helped Cathy create a new tree topper for me.

It’s Cynthia who began this tradition and she plans each year carefully, offering something new every October and listing a series of agenda destinations and shopping opportunities that could take a week to complete. (Not such a bad idea!) I brought home something really special to me – something I’ve been eyeing for five years. It’s a set of huge outdoor chimes sounding like the entrance music to the Pearly Gates. Every time I hear its melody I’ll think of this – and our other Girls’ Weekends.

And in a loving slant on a favorite prayer, it will remind me how “Blest art I among (these) women!”

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