We are driving up Georgia 400, one of Atlanta’s infamous highways. Bavarian folk music is blasting. Coffee from Caribou is in the cup holders. It’s a beautiful early autumn day already, literally not a cloud in the sky, a cool bite in the air thanks to a cold front that blew in last night, and the leaves are hinting at an upcoming production of The Colors of Fall. We’ve been waiting all year.
It is one of two annual pilgrimages we are making to Helen, Georgia’s Oktoberfest. We’re going next weekend, too, with friends we met in Munich a few years back. They live in D.C. so we are lucky to have hung out with them a few times stateside.
Ah, so yes, Helen is one of our happy places. We can’t wait to walk around and we are going to picnic and we will go to the Festhalle tonight to enjoy traditional Oktoberfest music as well as its culinary delight. We are prepared to dress in our trachten: Josef in his lederhosen and I in my dirndl.
I got to thinking about the phrase “happy place” a few days ago. From seeing a friend who lives in Texas who posted her family’s vacation pictures from a trip to Disney – the Happiest Place on Earth – to thoughts of my own childhood brought about by people mentioning peaches and rainbows (stay with me, I will get there), and thinking about our upcoming trip to Helen, I considered how places can and often do make us happy.
My friend from Texas posted a very honest account on her blog of their Disney trip, even admitting that she felt badly admitting that their trip wasn’t perfect, in that there were tears from her daughter at times and they all had times of being tired and cranky, but even so, it really was a wonderful trip and they will go back again!
Of course! It’s Disney! I would love to go and I don’t even have children. We have a young friend from church who is working at Disney this semester as part of their hospitality program. I will be very interested to see what all she gets out of the experience. I hope it remains as a special place to her as I know her to be someone who holds Disney near to her heart. I hope it can remain a happy place for her.
This past week we were in a meeting at work and a colleague was munching on a peach. Another colleague mentioned that peaches were not her favorite fruit. Part of me felt wounded, bruised as easily as a peach, to hear that someone could dislike peaches. I grew up surrounded by peach orchards. It was and still is a huge industry in upstate South Carolina. Peaches, I realized, are part of who I am, and I am loyal to loving peaches and always will be.
Also this past week, another colleague mentioned seeing a rainbow on her way to work. Then she saw a double rainbow a few days later and posted a picture of it on Facebook. I told her about a hill that was the eastern horizon of our line of site on the property where I grew up. It was a hill adjacent to our yard which was covered by one of the peach orchards and we were often treated to a late afternoon rainbow in the eastern sky as the sun began dropping in the west. What a feast it was for the eyes. I am sure I saw dozens of rainbows in that setting in the 14 years I lived there, the first 14 years of my life.
The mentioning of peaches and rainbows has me thinking about where I grew up, and I am really looking forward to going to see my family before the end of the month. My home church is having a reunion, so that will also be a happy place for me to go back to see.
What is your happy place? Do you have several as well? I have many more I haven’t mentioned. I think life is a collection of happy places. Whether a place is beautiful or something beautiful happened there, looking back on happy places and returning to them in person or in our minds, it is a great gift to to be able to transport ourselves to them whenever we need to be uplifted.
Thanks for reading!
PS: Our dog, Hunter, is 12 today! He is older than Josef’s and my relationship! 🙂