Sunday, August 15, 2010
Discovering Hidden Treasures
Biltmore Estate - Asheville, NC
April 2, 2010
We have been season pass holders to Biltmore Estate for more than twenty years. Asheville, NC is about 1 1/2 hours east of us and is our perfect quick getaway spot. Fortunately, we discovered Asheville and the western North Carolina mountain area before it became quite the tourist destination that it is today. We know the area about as well as we do our home area and can get most anywhere via backroads that the masses haven't yet found. We stayed in some absolutely exquisite Bed & Breakfasts until they became so popular they priced themselves right out of our range. We then turned to cabins/cottages so that we could have the privacy we craved as well as control over our food.
Here's what most people never discover about Biltmore Estate. Although the mansion is the "main" attraction, people who pay their days admission and only tour the mansion, have completely missed out on the Biltmore experience. We are told through the magazine and promo materials we receive as season passholders, that only a small percentage of the mansion and the grounds are open to the public. The acreage is vast and over the years, we've seen miles and miles of hiking trails, biking trails and horseback riding trails built. We often go for a night or even just a day trip and never enter the doors of the mansion. While the hoards of people are standing in line waiting for their "timed" entry, we are meandering along paths beside the French Broad River, through the woodland areas, around the garden or across the knolls which provide unbelievable views back toward the mansion. We have never visited Biltmore that we didn't find at least one hidden treasure we'd never noticed before. While strolling through the gardens on our most recent visit, I discovered the hidden treasure of a tulip (my favorite flower) that was the most exquisite color of lavender (my favorite color) I have ever seen. We also found a new Woodland Trail that we'd never walked, but yielded two Pink Lady's Slippers and a Jack-In-the-Pulpit.
Every day brings hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. But the most precious of those probably aren't going to jump out and dance in front of us. We have to be willing to step away from the crowds, take time to walk down the road less travelled, maybe go against the grain a bit and find the treasure most meaningful to us rather than just accepting treasures as others tell us to see them. I think the simpler the hidden treasures are, the more profoundly they affect us. I love the majesty of Biltmore Mansion, but not too far away, is a rare wildflower that can only be found if sought.
I'm in a place right now where I'm extra sensitive to the simplicity of life and discovering hidden treasure isn't difficult to do. Here are a few that have profoundly impacted me over the past few days. There are others too personal to even share with you. But I'd encourage you to look around and find something new to treasure even in the normal routine of a Sunday afternoon.
1) The treasure of one specific new blog friend who told me very early in this process with FIL that she deals with these types of situations in her career as a social worker and offered to help in any way she could. We reverted to private emails and she has given advice to us that has been invaluable as we've made decisions. The advice, the time she's given and the peace of mind it has given us is something Mr. B, my MIL and I will never forget. Thanks, Deb!
2) The treasure of ALL of you. Not only have you been a comfort to me, but you have made an amazing impact on my husband who wept last night when I put my last post in front of him and said, "read these comments."
3) The treasure of watching my precious husband of 33+ years change the diaper of his father. Not that the nurses wouldn't do it, he just wants to. If that doesn't move you to tears, I don't know what will.
4) The treasure of feeling so much love in a room, you hardly see how the room can contain it.
5) The treasure of having scrambled eggs and a bagel for breakfast (because I had run out of milk for cereal and was too tired to stop at the store last night!!) and realizing half way through it that I was FULL! Not only did I realize I was full, but I thought about it briefly, got up, put the rest in the garbage disposal and listened to it grind with great pleasure. I believe that it a first!
See, hidden treasures can be simple, serious, lighthearted or just plain funny. They're there, just open your eyes and see them.
P.S. FIL still hanging on, but continuing to deteriorate. Doctor shakes his head and says, "it can't be much longer." Since he is now so peaceful and we feel his spirit has been gone for days, we wonder if this isn't time for us. We've shared memories and learned so many things about each other that we've never known. Each hour that passes makes us feel stronger in begging him to just let go.