Discovering Gratitude on a Country Road

A country general store in the NC mountains offers an interesting encounter and a new perspective.

Although we need not wait until Thanksgiving to reflect on gratitude, the impending holiday season brings those thoughts to the forefront. And sometimes, those little reminders come upon you when you least expect it — during a visit to a little country store for example…Yesterday, while taking a few hours off from my Beech Mountain “office” in northwestern North Carolina, we took a ride to visit some of the local hot spots — the historic towns of Crossnore and Spruce Pine, a few hidden away antique shops, and Linville River Mercantile and Bakery, a tiny general store located on the side of the road between Crossnore and Linville.

Linville River Mercantile & Bakery has a cozy ambience and features home accessories, hot chocolate and coffees and delicious fresh baked breads, cookies and pies.

The shop is small with lots to look at, and owner Jennifer King shares a few tidbits of local history while she takes fresh baked country sourdough bread out of her oven.  She tells us that her breads have been selected by “Homemade in America” and will be featured in their upcoming TV show, so of course we have to buy some and eat it before it even gets into the bag.  Both the aroma and the soft, crusty tastiness make it totally worth the calories, and we appreciate it even more knowing its “story.”  Everything up here has a story.

Freshly baked country sourdough bread baked by Jennifer King at Linville River Mercantile & Bakery -- yum!

I always find our forays into local culture delightful and enlightening. Perhaps because I grew up in suburbia and started my career in NYC, but I can’t get enough of the mountain lifestyle’s storybook charm and cozy appeal.  When people here “visit,” they actually have lengthy conversations about their day to day lives.  When they enter a shop, they pause to take a look at each item, comment on it and share an experience. And don’t forget about nature — literally surrounded by “purple mountain majesty,” shaded trails and dense pine tree forests, those who live here really do stop to take it all in.

What kind of an effect can this have on those of us with crazy deadlines, five-page to do lists and 200+ daily emails? I will tell you…these moments allow you to breathe. Sitting back for a few minutes to gain some perspective does not mean you have to be unproductive, or lazy or boring.  On the contrary, it’s actually the perfect setting for long term planning, thoughtful writing and yes, real thinking.

So what am I thinking about today?  Gratitude, of course.  Grateful that I have a few minutes to really think about what it means to me:

Thinking about my family fills me with gratitude
I am grateful for my amazing family — children who have grown up to be such caring, responsible, good people and a husband who is so helpful and supportive in all my endeavors.  And my even larger family circle — parents who have set a great example on how to work hard, live a good life and remain energetic and vibrant even in their “senior” years, sisters (and my aunt who is like a sister) who have grown up to also become my closest friends and lots more.   I am also very thankful for my peers and colleagues who teach me and inspire me every day.
So today I am grateful for a brief visit to a country store filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread…a few mountain moments to breathe, to reflect and to remind me of what is most important. Thank you.
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