On A Rocker-Filled Front Porch

One final point about the Homestead:  it has a fabulous front porch full of high-backed white rocking chairs.

If, like Kish and me, you are an avid reader, there’s nothing like a rocking chair on a bright afternoon.  We drank tea and read our books as the sun moved slowly across the sky; I was taking a fresh and enjoyable look at Dickens’ Oliver Twist on the recommendation of my friend the Liberal Kegler.  We rocked gently in the sunshine and when I felt the warm air and faint smell of flowers and background noise lull me into drowsiness I leaned back, closed my eyes, and dozed with pleasure.

There are worse things than a good book, a rocking chair, and a sunny day.

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A Walk In The Woods

The Homestead grounds include several fine walking and hiking trails.  On Friday I took a hike on the South Trail to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of a warm springtime day in the woods.

The trail promptly took me almost directly up the hillside, and almost immediately the huge Homestead building disappeared from view.  The path meandered through the trees, not really going to any particular place, and not in a particular hurry to get there anyway.   The destination was pretty much irrelevant — it was the journey itself that mattered.

Along the way I paused to admire a lichen-stained granite rock, the rusty color of a decaying tree stump, and the rushing of a nearby stream.  Old trees had fallen and new trees were vying to take their place.  Leaves were just getting ready to bring their color to the trees.

Although I love my music, I didn’t take my iPod along.  There are times when music can only interfere with your appreciation of your surroundings.  You march along, focused on one of your favorite songs, and you miss the rustle of a nearby squirrel through fallen leaves, or the smell of the clean, fresh air, or the look of sunshine filtering through the branches far overhead.

A walk through the woods shouldn’t be done to the accompaniment of a workout mix.  A hike is exercise, sure, but it should be something more.

The trail was deserted, and it didn’t take long for me to be swallowed up by the silence and leave the sounds of civilization in my wake.  Our lives are lived to a soundtrack of humming air conditioners and heaters, road noise, and human voices.  We are so used to being immersed in noise that its absence has an almost physical impact.  You notice the silence and feel a sense of wonder about it, and when you hear the chirping of a bird break that awesome silence, the birdsong is as pure and beautiful as any sound you have heard before.

Blue-Collar Horses

This afternoon I took a walk and chose the south path near the Homestead’s entrance.  The path took me down around a fenced-in meadow where two horses were grazing.  As I approached, they sauntered over to check me out.

If, like me, you aren’t around horses often, you forget how big they are.  These two were working horses – huge, heavily muscled, coats matted, with enormous hooves.  These aren’t the glory boy thoroughbreds who run in races and get pampered in between.  No, these are the blue-collar guys, who get yoked to carriages or pull sledges of logs for their supper, and who are grateful for some free time in a meadow on a sunny afternoon, when they can munch on grass and let their aching muscles rest.

At The Homestead

The Great Hall in the lobby of the Homestead

It’s spring break again at the Columbus Academy.  Last year, we decided to visit the Greenbrier for the first time.  This year, we’re checking out the Homestead.

The Greenbrier is in West Virginia and the Homestead is in Virginia, and the Homestead is a bit farther away from Columbus than the Greenbrier, but people tend to think of them together.  There’s a reason for that.  Both have the same historical feel, both started as resorts because of proximity to sulphur water, and both have the same impressive outside appearance and the same huge and beautifully decorated common rooms — at least, the ones we’ve seen so far.

We’ll be doing some exploring of the hotel and grounds, but right now we need to find a pub that is showing the NCAA games and get ready for some March Madness, Homestead style.