Simple gifts

Charlotte and I recently took three of the Casa Alterna Grant Park residents up to the mountains of North Georgia.

While they were excited to see the mountains of North Georgia when Anton told them there’d be an opportunity to hike, there wasn’t much enthusiasm. Flashbacks of their grueling trek through the Darién Gap, an unforgiving jungle between Colombia and Panama, is all they could envision. Anything remotely similar to such an experience did not appeal to them.

When we arrived at the idyllic town of Helen, GA and its Alpine-like architecture, their countenances brightened. They were in another world. Who knew one brief road trip could lead to a unique and different place?

The visit to the mountains included their first sample of root beer (their consensus: yuck!), funnel cake (yummy!), apple cider donuts (meh), and pretzels (yes!). We stopped in a toy store filled with classics, and our inner children came alive as nostalgia filled our hearts. Our residents even felt the coldness of snow for the first time, albeit artificial snow.

Then we got in our car and headed to the Chattahoochee National Forest, where all skepticism vanished. We walked, chatted, and were swept away by the splendor of a pine-laden forest in a Georgia autumn. 

We strolled alongside a creek. As the sound of a cascade began to crescendo, one of our residents, the coldest among us, ran to the rushing water, shed her winter coat, and requested we take photos of her under the grandeur of nature’s water attraction.

Curiosity. Community. Creation. These are gifts that fill us with joy. These are gifts that heal. These are simple gifts.

1 thought on “Simple gifts”

  1. Thank you for this, Anton. What a wonderful way to begin to make walking outdoors perhaps seem welcoming again, and to help people reconnect with both natural and human-made beauty. Another fun option out that way: the Mountain Fresh Creamery, with cows and ice cream.


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