Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ritual and memory and stained-glass leaves.

It's a known fact among my family and friends that I can be counted upon to repeat myself. I am a creature of ritual, most especially when it comes to family gatherings... the mystery of the new is often overshadowed by the comfort of the familiar.

One of my very favorite traditions is the annual fall Woodstock weekend that my husband and I spend with his brother and sister-in-law. The first year was actually a late summer gathering, but I, mountain-bred girl that I am, needed a fall weekend with time spent among hills patchworked with gold and green and orange, and the rush of wind in glowing leaves over my head. So I co-opted the weekend from August to October. Two years ago, the weekend took place days after we got engaged; last year, it was the weekend of our wedding. This time (our fifth year) was our first anniversary.

Every year we do the same activities (flea market, apple picking) and visit the same restaurants, and that process of layering year after year of similar memories on top of one another is just the most magical thing. "Was it the wedding house or the mountain view house that had the crazy staircase?" "Do you remember when we were packing up after the wedding weekend and there was that insane ladybug swarm?" And of course, "What year was it that Bethany got baked for the first time?" (Some day I will tell you guys that story.)

So this year we did old things and new things, both of them equally precious. New layers of memory were added to the pile: the morning hour I spent alone on the balcony at the house, listening to the wind in the golden trees; the sweetness of the port that the owner of our wedding venue gave us with our anniversary dinner. The fire we built and proudly maintained until four o'clock in the morning.

If you really want to feel the mood, click this link and listen to the most exquisite country-folk harmony ever recorded by a pair of Swedish girls:

This was our fireside, where we sat up late listening to music and laughing and telling stories:

And then we woke up the next morning in our little mountain house to these leaves: 

And then went for a ramble around town:

Woodstock Flea Market

My dream house, on Rock City Road 

 And then slowly drove home the next day, stopping for apples and donuts and whiskey and wine.

Dressel Farms

this year's haul

Tuthilltown Distillery

Brotherhood Winery

It was a perfect, magical weekend, the way each of them has been. And as soon as the vibrancy of the leaves fades from my eyes, I will be looking forward to the next year.


  1. Beautiful. Someday I hope to travel north so I can actually experience this "fall" thing everyone seems to relish. Here in Florida, our fall excitement is opening our windows for the first time in months. The fresh, cool (mid-70s) air has been lovely all week—too bad it's going back to the upper 80s tomorrow.

    Gorgeous photos!

    1. Ah, fall in the mountains is one of the most special things on earth. You definitely should visit! :)

  2. Beautiful pics and memories, Bethany! Fall is my favorite time of many people see it as an end (warm weather turning cold, trees losing leaves) but to me I always feel an excitement, like a new beginning. I was the kid who loved all her new school supplies come fall, her new scarf come winter. I haven't been to Woodstock in years, thanks for bringing me there in your post. And Happy Anniversary!

    1. Jess, I completely agree with you - I have always felt that way. Excitement for something that is starting. It ALWAYS feels like that to me. Glad to find someone else who feels the same!