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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, October 20, 2023

We treated ourselves to breakfast in Leiper’s Fork today. I’ll be honest, the food is not that good. The pancakes are great but as I am avoiding the whole sugar-carb breakfast thing at the moment, I was stuck with a subpar omelet and burnt bacon.

But the food, for one odd moment, was incidental. It was the being in Leiper’s Fork that counted. It was a lovely day and the temperature was fall-perfect so we stopped at the little cove by the creek for a coffee and decided to sit and enjoy the morning for a while. I took out my notebook and pencil to journal.

The air was permeated with the delicious scent of a wood burning fire outside, and a little mellow music played in the background from an old-timey-looking radio on the corner of the coffee truck counter. It’s so super cute that somehow neither Ralph nor I have more than about two photos of the place. That’s what happens when you’re too busy enjoying a thing to document a thing.

Anyway it was rather idyllic. People came and people got coffee and people went. Everyone was quiet and chill. Quite possibly because they were all old. Old people are seriously underrated.

Then a family showed up with two young-ish kids, maybe eight and ten years old. The first thing the little girl, maybe ten, did was squeal. I figured my peaceful morning was over.

But an interesting thing happened.


And I laughed.

Because she was absolutely correct, if a bit more emotive about it.

The tables are made of actual stone, weathered and gray. The chair backs look like gnarled vines, maybe of the variety that imprisoned Sleeping Beauty for all those years. There are a few of these tables, scattered on a bed of stone and surrounded by gardens.

This little girl, all imagination and wonder, proceeded to caress the tables like the most precious of treasures. She laid her face on one. She sat down and oohed-and-aahhhed over it. She informed her mother that they needed stone tables.

This all amused me greatly.

The little boy found himself a round stone and perched on it like a bird, all wobbly legs and grins.

Things subsided into sitting and having a coffee for a few minutes and I forgot about them. But some short time later the squeal.


And there was much ooohing-and-aaahhing and crouching low to the ground to examine this wonder.

I mean, you have to appreciate a kid like that. She was delighted by everything. It was all a miracle deserving of the utmost reverence. Being peripheral to her joy was heartwarming.

It made me wish more of us went through our days with that sense of wonder and appreciation. I’m sure she had seen a table before today. But this one struck the imagination you almost exclusively find in those not yet jaded to their existence. For a few minutes I was blessed enough to glimpse a view of the world through her eyes. And yes, I say blessed, because sometimes lucky is more suited to a Poker game. Because when you have the opportunity to completely unhinge your worldview for a minute and recognize beauty where there once was none, that is a blessing.

The family finished their visit and left and for once I wish they hadn’t. I was quite enjoying their lens.

After that I noticed that the garden next to my table was actually full of leafy greens and vegetables. Radishes poked up from beneath a few stems. A fat yellow gourd lay on its side.

I bent down to touch the top of the radishes. That’s when I noticed tiny seashells scattered among the stones. Tiny, tiny shells, smaller than the tip of my pinky. On the ground in Tennessee. It really was like a snippet out of a fairytale. A little twirl of the magic wand to bring a seashell to me on the day after I’d just written about not being able to wander the beach at whim.


I wish I could describe how I felt in those moments. Happy. Sad. Hopeful. Heartbroken. Grateful.

It only took another hour for that feeling to wear off because the rest of the day happened and there were no more fairytale tables, just the reality of first world problems that only want to pile up like dried corn husks. Still, the morning stayed with me. It was perhaps the reminder I needed in that moment that there is more than the dried-corn-husk view of life and that, perhaps, if I look at things with a different set of eyes, I might be surprised by what I find.

Photo: the one photo I have that can give you an idea of what Fairytale Land in the corner of a parking lot in Leiper’s Fork looks like. The pumpkins are everywhere and they are real. The garden behind it is full of vegetables. And the chair seat is, in fact, stone.