The absolute biggest blessing in my life is all the many wonderful people that I love and I call friend. Life has it’s ups and downs, good days and bad days, but through it all there has been one constant. The joy, memories and love that come from surrounding yourself with like-minded souls. This weekend I had a chance to take a little road trip and visit with two special women. The first has been my friend going on forty-one years! The second lovely lady is someone that I met through mutual friends and though yesterday was the first day to actually meet face to face, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.
I arrived in the outskirts of Nashville late on Saturday afternoon and after hugs, stowing my suitcase and more hugs, Susan and I decided to make the short drive down to Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, and though neither one of us care for whiskey, it was a gorgeous spring day and worth the drive alone. Spring is slowly making it’s way into Tennessee and though a lot of the trees were still bare, the grass is beginning to turn into that awesomely bright green shade and the pear and apple trees are in full bloom with lucious white blossoms. The drive down wasn’t long, but it was beautiful and made me appreciate the wonder of the first of spring.
We arrived and were assigned a tour group and had just a few minutes to wait. The majority of the tour of Jack’s famous whiskey is walking and we really couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. Making whiskey is a fascinating process and to hear the history of who Jack Daniel was and how this place has changed over the years was interesting. We learned how they make their own filtration charcoal and the processes involved. Along the tour, we stopped at Cave Springs which is why Jack Daniel’s whiskey tastes like it does. They use Tennessee spring water that is naturally filtered through lime-stone and has the unusual attribute of containing many minerals, but none of them, iron. Iron would change the taste of the whiskey. How fortuitous that Jack intuited this all those many years ago!
Before walking into the fermentation and distillery areas, we saw where the spring from the cave comes out and meanders down to the buildings where it will be used to make all the spirits that Jack Daniel’s currently makes including the famous Old No.7 whiskey. Along this peaceful, babbling brook, we saw ducks and then the tour guide explained that these are Peabody Ducks. Now, for any of you that have read my blogs, you will know that the Peabody ducks are quite famous here in Memphis and they live at our most famous hotel, The Peabody. Everyday they march from the roof top down to the lobby where they play and frolic in the fountain there. Well, turns out, when the ducks have gotten older and are ready to retire from their jobs, they are taken out to the beautiful Middle Tennessee countryside and live out the rest of their lives at the Jack Daniel’s distillery.
We continued into the buildings and saw the fermentation process and smelled the smells of yeast, barley and moon shine. We finally made our way to the room where they filter the liquid through the charcoal and our tour guide lifted the huge oak lid just long enough to get a whiff and it did indeed finally smell like liquor. And, that’s an understatement. The smell was so strong that it made your eyes water and I swear I might have gotten a little buzz had I inhaled anymore of the alcohol vapors. All in all, it was a fascinating tour and one I’m glad that I got to do with my oldest best friend. Susan and I have literally made a life-time of memories together and I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world.
This was a very short road trip and after a nice dinner, we curled up with Susan’s dogs and ended the day next to each other. How blessed I’ve been to have this woman in my life for almost all of my life. It’s a once in a life-time kind of friendship and we are each better for having had the love and companionship and laughter along the way. I left the next morning with promises of lots of phone dates and hopefully getting to see each other either in Branson or Las Vegas. Or both.
I headed out a little before noon on Sunday and made my way to the other side of Nashville and out into the gently rolling hills and countryside. I found the correct exit on the Interstate and drove for about ten minutes until I came to the small, quaint town that my friend, Rebecca lives in. I managed to get myself a little lost, but hey, this is Tennessee and the towns aren’t that big! It gave me a chance to drive around a little before finally meeting up with my courageous, funny friend. As I mentioned earlier, we had never actually met face to face, but through mutual friends on Facebook. Rebecca, myself and two other ladies have formed a very strong bond in the past couple of years. We are all writers and we share a love and fascination for the words. We also have formed a writing sisterhood that is a story in itself that I’m sure will be written one day.
Rebecca was everything I expected and more. She’s strong, she’s smart and she’s also quite the beauty. She looks younger in person and she has this inner glow about her that says that something very special lies below that quiet exterior. She presented me with three gorgeous sets of earrings that she had made for me, and not only will you see me wearing them, they will forever be some of my most cherished possesions. She’s not only a brilliant writer, but she’s also a fabulous artist and to know that she hand crafted these pieces just for me truly is priceless.
Rebecca and I talked and had coffee and then talked some more. We are in similar positions in our personal lives and had a lot of experiences in common that we shared with each other. We went to a park and tried to brave the chilly spring breeze, but finally just sat in my car and talked some more. It was just like when I finally met one of the other members of our unique quartet in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, this was destiny. Rebecca is part of my soul family, and indeed, part of my heart. I so admire, respect and love this woman whom I’ve been so blessed to finally meet in person. This is what life is really about, folks. Friendships, love, laughter and giving yourself the freedom and permission to fully embrace and appreciate every single second.
The only negative about the entire weekend was that it was entirely too short. Not enough time with Susan and definitely not enough time with Rebecca, but this morning I still count myself as one of the luckiest people alive. Thanks, girls, for the sweet memories.