The day was warm and muggy, but not as bad as the last few weeks. There was a slight breeze, and it was a perfect Sunday to spend with my Mom.
A year ago, Roy and Deborah Thompson hosted a meeting at one of their "facilities" that grace their Ogeechee River homestead. I fell in love, and was delighted when I learned they allow people the use of their "Ogeechee River Diner" and "Ogeechee River Livery Stable" for holding meetings. I put in a bid to host our family reunion there.
It's my turn to host the reunion - my first time. It's that phase in life when us grandchildren take our turns in hosting, and we have never held the Adams reunion in South Georgia.
All Mom's family lives in North Georgia or Tennessee. My cousin Jason held the reunion at his Chattanooga home last year, and we had a ball.
Now it's my turn.
I've been telling Mom all about the charm and beauty of the Thompson's property. She was with me last Christmas when we toured the lights display Roy and Deborah created, but she hadn't seen the rustic delights of the "Ogeechee River Diner," a house built from materials taken from an old house on the property. The interior ceilings are rusty tin and the building is pure country, filled with antiques and unique memorabilia.
After we toured the facility and took note of all we needed to bring, Mom and I enjoyed an ice cold Coca Cola from the antique Coke box. Ice crusted the bottoms of the glass bottles and dripped onto our hands as we swallowed the crisp bite of cola, shockingly cold compared to the balmy air.
We admired the buildings and the beautifully landscaped pond and the cool-looking pool, but I was anxious to see the river. I'd never ventured down that secluded woods road to the Thompson's landing, and I was looking forward to the adventure.
I love wilderness. The more untouched and wild the land is, the better I like it. I wasn't disappointed.
The road, of course, was covered in signs of man. Four-wheeler tracks, pieces of brick and the occasional old piece of metal from where something was dumped years and years ago, and there were drainage culverts that made the property passable.
You could tell where the waters of the Ogeechee had been when the water was high. Twisted cypress stumps and logs and dried mud showed where the murky waters had once stood, and here and there were puddles of muddy water that rippled with life. "There are fish in there!" Mom cried as we saw one fish surface, gulp air, then disappear.
At one point we stopped the car and walked, as the roadway was rather muddy after a recent rain. We picked saw palmetto fans to wave away the mosquitoes and gnats as we walked along the path, spotting the tracks of deer, raccoons and some long-toed birds.
Spider webs stretched across the road. Birds made odd sounds in the woods, and the feeling of complete separation from civilization was relaxing and somehow reassuring.
On foot, we spied treasures such as a piece of wood that looked like a goat's head, with a mouth and eyes as well as nostrils. Another piece of water-warped wood was twisted into an unusual shape. A third piece of wood looked polished, and was as light as Styrofoam. Mom said it might be balsam.
I found a hawk's feather, which was symbolic to me. We also fund mussel and snail shells.
The gnats and mosquitoes, combined with the moist heat, quickly put an end to the walk, however. Mom was more OK with it but I admit, I am spoiled by air conditioning and I prefer my wild woods walks to take place in the fall, when the air is crisp and biting. The skeeters were biting, but not so crisp.
The spirit of adventure was still there, so Mom decided she would try to navigate the muddy spot in the road anyway. We wanted to see the river.
We made it through and meandered through the woods, spotting a flock of wild turkeys and a glimpse of a wild hog before the breathtaking view of the wild Ogeechee appeared.
The river was low, but its feral beauty was still awesome. We abandoned the truck once more and walked along the river's edge for a while. It was well worth the drive.
On the way back we talked about the upcoming reunion and how much fun we are going to have. I told Mom how much it meant to me to share moments like that with her.
It's a blessing in itself to have a Mom with whom you can also be friends, and moments like the visit to Thompson's landing are what makes the best memories.