Some places have magic. They can form a special bond which remains even when you move far away. They can surprise you, sending you peaceful yet melancholy memories at random moments throughout your life. The Blue Ridge Mountains have that kind of magic for me.
We had two homes in the Blue Ridge. I particularly loved our first, a small log home perched on a low ridge surrounded by national forest. The large back porch faced the mountain where the Appalachian Trail crossed the highway at Neels Gap's Walasi-yi Center. At twilight they switched on the porch light there. It looked like a twinkling star up on the mountain. Sometimes I'd sit out on our porch as darkness fell, gazing at that twinkling light and listening to the sound of the evening breeze in the forest's trees.
I love the green lushness of South Florida. I love spotting peacocks, parrots, and macaws on our bike rides around town. I love the palm trees and the ocean at dawn. I love the busy causeways to the islands and the quiet tracks in the Everglades. But when a friend posts a photo from the Blue Ridge Mountains, or I hear a snatch of bluegrass music, I once again begin to long for hazy mountain vistas and the whispering sounds of the forest.
Al and I talked this spring. We needed to take a trip back to the Blue Ridge. We decided on going to the Blue Ridge Parkway
. Yet somewhere on the BRP that was new to us, somewhere we hadn't been to before. Why not Mt. Airy, North Carolina? A real place that most people know by a fictional name: Mayberry.
It's the basis for the little country town of that old TV sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show.
The one with Sheriff Andy, Deputy Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, and little Opie. Lots of nice roads for long bike rides there, too.
I'm smiling just thinking about it.