Faith - Travel

BettyB00, bears and good-byes

We wrapped up our SOWER project at The Cove Thursday afternoon, determined to make a few more memories before heading home. One remaining must-do was Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

Temps dropped dramatically as elevation rose on the ever-winding Blue Ridge Parkway. Late afternoon sunlight perfected the view. We were racing the clock, yet compelled by the splendor to pull off and take it in. Just too good to miss, even for a summit sunset.

Sure enough, by the time we’d scrambled up the steep pathway from the summit parking lot, Mount Mitchell was socked in. All was not lost, however. Saturated by fog, the thick balsam forrest surrounding the summit generates the most amazing aromatherapy; so worth the scramble!

As you may know, BettyB00 loves the Blue Ridge! We hated to leave her behind. However, The Beast (RAM 3500) seemed better suited for this particular adventure, and returning in the dark. In the long run, I was glad for this discernment, plus a high perch in the passenger seat.

I’d been hoping and praying to see a bear. Every other day, it seemed, they were spotted on The Cove property. One shuttle driver reported a mom and four cubs showed off for an entire day! But bear by bear, for weeks they’d eluded me.

Time was rapidly running out when we rounded the bend on this big boy. Oncoming traffic skidded to halt as he edged toward the road, plodded across, plowed through layers of leaves, and bounded up the bank into hardwoods. He wasn’t in a big hurry, turning briefly for a photo op.

We marveled at his grace and girth, and lush winter coat, so thick and shiny. So thankful I got my “baar” and he was in his prime. What a treat!

We were close enough, but not so close as to disturb him. Unfortunately, a section of the BR Parkway was closed recently due to human-cub interactions. Park rangers must make dramatic efforts to rehabilitate bears because humans resist common sense!

By all accounts, bears around these parts are quite chill. We’re told they’re scavengers, generally disinterested in humans. Conventional wisdom is to “let them pass.” Unprovoked, they’ll continue on with bear business.

These bears don’t hibernate. They must fare well on the lam, as we’ve heard numerous reports of litters with four cubs. Check out the bear parade in a downtown Asheville escapade!

On our final day, groundskeeping staff at The Cove graciously arranged to transport our team to the top of the ridge. We drove a steady, steep incline for three miles to the Cedar Cliff Overlook, a fabulous vantage point. More than a thousand acres of hills and valley splay out below, as familiar slate rooftops and chapel steeple peek through treetops stripped of leaves.

Midway to the top, we’d pulled off at a little nook where a fresh water spring danced over a rustic stone wall, workmanship of a beloved staffer (with help from a SOWER or two). In human terms, Scott left too soon. Pete and I hadn’t the pleasure of making his acquaintance, but his memory was much honored by all at the wall.

As we took turns drinking of the spring, I gave thanks. As delicious as that mountain stream tasted, it doesn’t come close to the our delight and satisfaction in the Source of Living Water, just as real and precious. I’m confident we’ll meet Scott one day. We’ll congratulate his workmanship at The Cove, as one approved and faithful. I surely hope, on recalling his wall, we’ll learn how he got those big ‘uns in there!

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Saturday morning, we loaded BettyB00 for the journey home. I must say, little ‘B00 proved herself on this first venture. We buzzed into Swannanoa, and on to Black Mountain on errands, and to Asheville on adventures, and up and down the Parkway. No problems for this girl!

I’d get a kick out of hollering to the Hubs, “Bet and I are off to work.” She’d chug into gear, and putter up and down the hilly Cove. One day, she even got in on working the Operation Christmas Child collection with me. We agree, Li’l Bet’ is a keeper!

Saturday was bittersweet, bidding friends good-bye. We’ve grown closer in friendship and deeper in faith this past month at The Cove. SOWERS have a tradition of praying out each departure. My heart was full of gratitude, as we stood there in the driveway. Being first to leave, our circle was complete.

It was our privilege, pleasure and honor to serve this month with this team. These people are our people. We’ll meet again, no doubt, hopefully down the road a stretch. As SOWERs are fond of saying “… here, there, or in the air!”

~ Sincerely, Sondra

4 Comments on “BettyB00, bears and good-byes

  1. I’m thrilled you had such a good experience this month. That’s how they all should be but I’m sure The Cove is extra special. Hugs to you my friend ❣️

    1. Thank you, dear one. Yes, so precious— people, place, and Presence. The Cove feels like a sanctuary, from the moment you enter the gates. I don’t have much SOWER project experience but think it must rare to serve where the vision is so crystal clear, and the mission so highly and broadly respected — around the world, across generations. It’s a great model for the Church, great unity with much humility. We surely do hope to return!

  2. So great you get these wonderful experiences with Pete. I am so happy for you. Looking forward to our trip in Dec!

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