by Jean Gordon

With the dawning of May and saying goodbye to the unpredictable weather in April, we can enjoy the last days of spring while anticipating the first days of summer. In just 50 days spring will be history and the summer of 2021 will be here. Just like that, summer is just around the corner. But before we get into summer on June 20, we can remember the good days of spring and hope the weather remains spring-like so we can enjoy the flowers, the evening cool walks and keeping our windows open at home to enjoy fresh cool air.

With spring comes the renewal of hope as we continue to move past the darkest days of the pandemic and look forward to being with friends and family again and feeling safe.

Spring planting was always a big thing around our house as a child and teenager. Our parents usually planted the vegetable gardens after Good Friday and it was not a small chore. It took days and sometimes even weeks to get all four garden plots completely planted.

Then came summer and the time for gathering the fresh produce and preparing much of it for another day. Summer was the time for fresh produce for lunch and supper. But even with all the garden work, our parents always took time out for a summer vacation. Both worked full-time in textile plants in Rutherford County but a vacation was vitally important.

Although retired from full-time work myself, I freelance for a couple of publications and volunteer about three days a week so I am busy. Even as a retiree, a summer vacation or two are definitely in my plans. From the mountains to the sea, we have it all at our fingertips or at least within a few hours drive to the ocean. 

Growing up vacations were always spent at a campground either in the mountains or at the beach. But it didn’t take long for our family to decide beach camping was not for us. Mountains yes, but who wants to live in a tent 

sleeping and eating sand for a week.

Mountains meant visiting the Great Smokies. Camping in the national parks meant no electricity and even that wasn’t too bad. Campfires and lanterns provided plenty of light to play Scrabble and Poker around our picnic table and our trusty flashlights were used for late night walks to the bathhouses. 

I’m convinced there’s nothing qute like camping. For me goodness and joy find a restful place in my soul when I’m in the presence of a roaring campfire at a campground with family and friends. The sounds of the rushing river behind a campsite, the sight of little children learning to ride bicycles for the first time with a parent holding onto the seat are summer time delicacies I have witnessed more than one time. Discovering new wildflowers on the floors of the forest and sitting on a rock in the middle of a river for simple medication are priceless.

Oh, the joys of summer time in Rutherford County and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Camping, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, good food and all the other opportunities we have right here at home cannot be taken for granted. 

Perhaps for the first time in our lives, being alive is a blessing beyond measure.

Pitch a tent. Go outside. Count the stars. Take time to recapture the simple pleasures of the seasons. Have a star party and quietly reflect on the beauty of the earth and the glory of the skies.

Wherever you vacation this summer — at the beach, lake, mountains, the east or west, north or south — how wonderfully blessed we are to live where we live and share time with family and friends.

By the way, take one of those slow Sunday afternoon drives toward Chimney Rock or Lake Lure, and when you do be sure to take the roads less traveled around Rutherford County. You’ll be glad you did and just may be surprised at all you might find off the beaten path.

Happy days are ahead.

Jean Gordon is a freelance writer and worked as a journalist 48 years in Rutherford County.