An attribute that links me, my mother and my sister is our obsession with Montreat. We’ve been vacationing at this house for my whole life and my mother spent her childhood here, too. It was built by my great-great-great Aunts and has been passed through the family since the early 1900’s. This weekend, before a week-ish of work travel, I had three glorious days of family vacation here.
Even though this place is only 20 minutes from where I now live, I feel calmer and more relaxed as I drive East, away from Asheville. The only way to get to Montreat is through the better-known town of Black Mountain, which is surrounded by what’s called the Seven Sisters, a short mountain range that can be clearly seen from the center of town. This little town is about as quaint as they come, and most of our “downtown” time consists of eating and shopping, there is no nightlife here. Come 8pm, it’s a ghost town.
Turning down Montreat Road, out of Black Mountain, the speed limit goes down to 25 and I don’t mind. Forcing myself to slowly approach my destination is good practice for slowing down once I arrive! Mom’s rule, once we get close to the Montreat gates, is to turn off the air conditioning and roll down the windows. Then we have to SMELL MONTREAT. This is a very important step that must not be missed, an initiation of sorts. The hundred-year-old homes sitting under the shade of old-growth trees have been soaking up that dank, green, rainy, earthy scent and it just radiates out of them. I’m sure this is an acquired taste, but let me tell ya, it’s what relaxation smells like!
A day at Montreat goes like this: Sit on the porch, listen to the creek, drink coffee, read books, take a nap, hike, take a walk around the lake. Around 6pm the coffee turns to wine and we sit around eating something delicious that my Dad oh-so-kindly cooked for us all. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll wander into town for dinner or ice cream one night. Repeat. This is the mountain version of sunbathing and strolling at the beach. Take in the scenery, get that summer reading done and just chill. I essentially live in running shorts and sweatpants here and I don’t hate it.
This summer is a wee bit different though, since there is a very mobile and LOUD one-year-old to entertain. In between naps, we wrangle, sing and throw toys and it’s pretty great. Yesterday we taught Louisa one of the most important, age-old Montreat activities: Rock Hopping. While she basically rock-waddled, I would call it a success.
I can’t wait until furture years when we can wade in the creek, searching for crawdaddys and salamanders!