Friday, January 27, 2017

Magic in the Clouds and Cider in the Mist

Saturday was a cold and foggy morning, the fog so dense and wet that I was sure if I lit a match outside the dampness of the air would extinguish it immediately. I couldn't see my neighbors across the fields or even the crows sitting in the oak tree, but it was wonderful to just sit, looking out of the window, sipping a huge mug of tea, watching the birds and relishing the peace of the countryside, especially after the previous day's chaos.
I wasn't in the mood to be with crowds of people today, so, grabbing my camera bag, I made for the mountains. The fog was still thick as I drove slowly along winding roads, cows like ghosts grazed in the fields and few vehicles were on the roads as I drove towards the Skyline Drive.
As Stuart chugged up the mountain I saw sunshine blinking ahead of me then suddenly we broke through the fog into dazzling bright sunlight with azure skies overhead. The fog was hanging on the side of the mountain, white and fluffy, slowly unfurling in the breeze. I was pleased to see there was no line at the gate and the park ranger informed me that the views were spectacular today, I was in for a treat, which was good to hear, partly numbing the shock at the huge hike in the cost of the annual pass I was renewing today. But as I emerged from the tunnel, stopping at the first outlook, I forgot that, and gazed happily at the wonder nature had spread out across the Shenandoah Valley.
It's such a joyful release to savor the quiet peacefulness of clouds, as though these huge swaths of snowy softness suck all stresses and negative emotions out of me like a great big sponge. I felt that they could lift me up and float me away or that I could lay on them like they were big soft marshmallows.
I  chatted with a couple of guys who were hanging out at one overlook on their own, listening to funky, mellow Indian style music while standing on the wall, enjoying a joint, looking over the white waves as they moved below us. We all stood mesmerized by the hypnotic movements as the winds nudged and swept the fog across the valley floor,
As I stopped at each overlook, there was only ever one other person or a couple, with cameras, or enjoying a picnic. I only saw a couple of hikers. It was strange seeing so few folk up here in paradise today, I wondered if they were embroiled in the turmoil of the marches down in DC.
After a couple of hours I decided to leave these gorgeous panoramas and was soon back underneath the canopy of grey gloomy fog and passing muddy fields and a few other vehicles who likely had no idea of the gleaming sunny scenes above them. I decided to stop in at Cobbler Mountain Cellars, a place not even 10 minutes from my house, which makes wine and cider. I'd never been here before but today decided to try the ciders.
I was delighted to discover, after bumping along a meandering dirt track, a small building on the side of a hill, surrounded by fields, with a few fire pits puffing out smoke to join the thick mist that hung low. There were only a few vehicles and just a small group around one of the fires, I was liking this place already, the ambience was very inviting, the lack of crowds even more so. Inside wines were being tasted at the front of the building and I was sent to the back where the ciders were. Three ladies had just started and invited me to join them. We worked our way through 7 flavors, finishing with the Harvest Pumpkin which was served up warm. They were all a little too sweet for me except the Traditional Jefferson and Mountain Top Hop, both of which I enjoyed immensely and purchased bottles to take home.
We all ordered a pint to take outside to one of the fire pits, where another couple joined us..While protests were raging down in DC, I was relaxing around a campfire for a couple of hours on a mountain draped with heavy mists in the company of new friends. It was glorious and especially superb because it was virtually on my doorstep. I chastised myself for having left it so long to visit this place. It definitely won't be too long before I'm back again.

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