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A rainy trip to the woods & cinnamon-citrus-honey hot toddy
|March 9, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under Drinks and cocktails, georgia, hot-toddy, trip, woods|
“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness” ~ John Muir
Sometimes we just need to get away. The city, the people, the routines, our quotidian business gets to us. But Nature has the ability to get through to us in a way no human or human-made convention can. I have been really occupied (and preoccupied) lately, with work, family, the world, and the future. The trees have become so thick that I have a feeling I am missing the view of the whole forest.
So on a whim, this past Friday, I suggested we pack up our bikes and drive off with our trusty old truck (the one we drove from East coast all the way to West coast this past summer) for a long week-end in the mountains nearby. Just the woods and us. I was looking to journey outward to journey inward.
We booked three nights at a lodge (nothing fancy, but warm and woodsy, the kind that has hand-made quilts, deer heads and bear skins hanging on the walls, and big windows facing the valley) in the Blue Ridge Mountains, right over the majestic Amicalola waterfalls, close to the start of the Appalachian trail. It did not matter that it was raining and cold. It actually was quite special because of that. The trees waver in the wind and they start whispering ancient, evocative chants.
At night the tapping of the rain on the leaves cuddled us in sweet slumber. And because we could not always be outside, we sat by the big fireplace and played cards on the carpet, a cup of hot toddy in hand (see recipe below).
There were not many people there this time of year, and because of the weather, so we enjoyed the quiet and having the place almost all to ourselves. You hear noises and creeks at night that the city does not offer. You actually take time to listen to them here. You become an animal in the wilderness, with instincts that the urban asphalt covers ups.
When the weather cleared up a bit on Sunday, we went biking in the woods, on a trail that took us through a winding small road, passed the rusted sign on a old barn. It was a magically child-like experience to splatter our spokes in the mud, up and down the mountain, to see deer hopping fences (we even think we saw a bear), and drive by the cold, engorged, fast riverbeds, with leaves swiftly navigating through pieces of fallen branches. I forgot my name, I left my shields behind, and whizzed through threes, free and “naked”, under the clouds. And then, dirty and tired, we had a hot bath that restored all our senses.
We also went gold and gem mining in Dahlonega, home of the first gold rush. We will not retire with our finds, but the surprise on the kids face when they found a huge diamond-looking quartz was a time capsule for us.
Throughout our stay, we leisurely ventured around the small towns in the area. We had lunch one day at a small café in Blue Ridge (mushroom quiche and tomato-basil soup) and another day at the Picnic Café (apricot-chicken sandwich, poppy-seed salad, and blackberry lemonade) in Dahlonega. We stopped for chocolate, candy and bon-bons anytime we saw a small bakery. Every bite, every sip, every breath, every step, every word was un-rushed.
One lazy afternoon, we took a two hour long tea in Ellijay: there’s this adorable little tea place (tea with strings), in a log-cabin with lace curtains, run by charming Dana -who makes real fudge and marks your tea cup with a special personal message- where all the young artists and students gather and everyone feels at home. We drank Darjeeling tea and talked about history and the state of the universe with some of the locals. The luxury of a small town afternoon.
When you go away from “civilization” as we know it, life definitively goes back into perspective and all the worries of the town life go away, if at least for a few hours. A small car trip to the wilderness can be as restorative as a long plane voyage to another country. The key is finding your inside landscape along the way and a clearer “way to the universe”.
I want to share the recipe for a hot toddy that is perfect when it’s cold and rainy outside, and you are close to a fire, in the middle of the woods. Feel free to steep in your thoughts.
Cinnamon-citrus-honey hot toddy
2 oz brandy, whiskey or rum
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 lemon, juice and peel
2 cup hot water
1 tea bag
1/2 cinnamon stick
Pour honey in a tea pot. Add the liquor, the juice and peel of the lemon. Add the cinnamon stick and the clove. Meanwhile heat the water in a tea kettle and add the tea bag to make hot tea. Pour the steaming tea into the tea pot and stir.