It is New Years eve 2010. I am 23 years old, writing this from a cabin in Helen, Georgia. I’m out here with Paul, my boss and the founder of The Basics online magazine (www.paulbyrondowns.com). We flew out Wednesday to spend some time with his family and photograph a “southern holiday”. We’ve crossed the Chatahoochie river and hiked the Amicalola Falls. We’ve eaten southern style at The Smith House in Dahlonega where gold was first discovered, and at the Unicoi lodge. We’ve sawed off branches to make Christmas stars and tied them all around with white lights. Paul goes goes goes, so he strung a Christmas garland on the ride up, and has written articles on the plane trip. It is Byron and Lani, Annabelle (the beautiful black lab), Paul and myself, and lots of Scrabble and good food.
I’m learning about this state every day something new. Atlanta is the second highest city in the U.S. next to Denver. It is a massive sprawl because there are no natural boundaries to contain it. No rivers running through or mountains to prevent building. It isn’t hot here like you’d think. We’re up in the mountains in Helen, and it’s between 40 and 50 degrees. At the top of the falls there is snow. But it is milder. It feels more like a cold October here than dead of winter. We’ve got a fire in the living room to keep, and there are homey Downs’ touches everywhere in this cabin.
Lani made this cabin our weekend home in less than half an hour. Every bed covering was changed to a quilt. The kitchy knick knacks were stored and Paul brought in pine and mountain laurel and holly for fresh centerpieces and boughs for the fireplace mantel. I never thought of taking down tacky pictures and storing them so the place felt more like home. But it does. Half an hour of her renovative eye, and our cabin looked like the day dream you’d have of a southern cabin in the Appalachians. Well worth the small effort of changing bed covers and table cloths.
Tonight we will celebrate with champagne in front of the fire place. Tomorrow we will pack up and head back to Atlanta. This trip has been beautiful, and it isn’t close to over. There is still the Coca cola museum, the Dali exhibit, the Varsity (for the best damn chili dogs I’m told) and more.
There is no internet up here in the mountains, which I suppose is better. I expect to post this when I’m settled back in Atlanta.