A Travel Story With a (Mostly) Happy Ending


Izzy was born for this.

After ten hours on the road we reach the gravel road that leads to our summer sanctuary. Nestled in a hollow surrounded by the Smoky Mountains, our cabin is bordered on the north by a bold creek and on the south by a national forest.

Izzy’s golden head, now gray around her eyes and nose, is sticking out the back window, ears flapping away in the wind, nostrils twitching wildly at the familiar scents of native fern, yellow pine, hemlock, mountain laurel and rhododendron, sleeping rabbits, squirrels, and moles. When the car stops she’ll jump down to the driveway and head for the stream for a drink of fresh water. Then she’ll start chasing smells.

We arrived safely, but our trip did not pass without incident. Somewhere north of Atlanta—on a road in the middle of nowhere we’d never tried before but decided to take because Google Maps promised it would get us

The native mountain laurel is in full blossom now.

there an hour earlier than usual—Fred heard a loud rattling noise coming from the the car roof, and said, “Oh, oh.  Something’s wrong with the pod.”  The “pod” is a podlike plastic container attached to the top of my car that held our clothes and other things that wouldn’t fit into the back of my SUV. I glanced at my side view mirror and caught a glimpse of something black flying away behind us. What was it?  I didn’t know. Maybe a shirt?

We pulled over to the side of the road when it felt safe and got out to check it out. Fred’s nephew had packed the car and pod for us the day before so we had no idea what was in there other than our clothes, all of which appeared to be there, although they were rumpled and clumped together. While he straightened out the clothes and re-locked the lid—we couldn’t imagine how it could have come loose—I walked back beside the road for a few hundred yards looking for something black. But I saw nothing but shredded tire treads. Finally I gave up. After all, it was only a shirt, right? No big deal, right? Wrong.

Happily we weren’t too late to see the peonies in full blossom.

About thirty miles later, the lid popped open again, despite Fred having locked it as securely as he could. He locked it again, then searched for a truck stop where we hoped to buy some duct tape. The lock was obviously broken, so taping the lid to the bottom was the only way we could be sure it wouldn’t happen again. Luckily we found some and counted ourselves lucky. Sure enough, we had no further trouble. No big deal, right?

By the time we arrived at the cabin, Fred had talked to his cousin who asked her son what else he had packed in the pod. My guitar. In a black case. Surely it was underneath the clothes, right?  Too tired to unpack the pod in the dark that night, we waited until morning. When we opened it Saturday morning, there was no guitar under the clothes.

I miss my guitar. It wasn’t an expensive one, but it had a story. Fred bought it from one of his best friends in college for $40.00. It’s the guitar he used to play when we sat around with friends in the sixties and sang, “The Seine,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “The Sloop John B,” “This World is Your World,” “Stewball Was a Racehorse,” “Cruel War,” and “Circle Game.”  It’s the guitar Fred gave to me after I gave him a much better Martin guitar for his birthday many years later. It’s the guitar I’ve been learning how to play. I loved that guitar.

I hope whoever found it, found it intact. The chances are pretty slim, especially since it was in a soft-cover case. But miracles do happen. Just the other day I read about a man who walked away from his car that landed upside-down after an accident. Anyway, I hope whoever found it always wanted a guitar. Or their son or daughter always wanted a guitar. I hope they love it and play their favorite songs and harmonize with dear friends.

The good news is we didn’t have an accident. Nothing irreplaceable was lost. No one was hurt. And after all, we’re in the Smoky Mountains where people know guitars! There are music stores and pawn shops all over the place

Fred and Izzy taking a break.

where we can find a perfectly acceptable replacement that will be good enough for someone who just wants to sit out on the porch and watch the sunset over the mountains while practicing the guitar. Today I’m just feeling lucky to be alive.

Enjoy these pictures we took yesterday.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Her Wilbur Award-winning book, Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Her new Nautilus Award-winning book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.





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11 Responses

  1. Wow, it’s like an adventure that begins an adventure Jeanie and all this taking place en route to your summer sanctuary! Hmm, you may have lost the music but you’re definitely found the song here in today’s lovely, light-hearted post. Oh, I love peonies in full blossom!

    I hope you’re all having a wonderful time in those majestic Smoky Mountains, circling each other’s soul and the beautiful creek and forest that surround you, as you sing and chase those scents together! Such joy, thank you so much for sharing! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah, for framing this story in your unique poetic way. “…you may have lost the music but you’ve definitely found the song…” I love it. And with it, you’ve captured the latest phase of my journey in calling this a “lighthearted” post. That is indeed how I’m feeling these days, and it is the direction in which my blog may move for a while. The search for wisdom takes many forms and not all of them lie in “heavy” academic or esoteric knowledge. I’m in the mood to explore lighter modes this summer. Hopefully they will resonate with some.

      Welcome back. I hope your recent much-deeded and soul-demanding respite was restorative and healing. Trusting that is another form of wisdom. May we both continue to grow into the fullness of ourselves as we consent to each new phase of our being.

      Love and light, Jeanie

      1. Yes, let us fly our hearts like kites! Let the flowers start laughing again as the beauty and joy of summer descends! Oh how I’ve missed Father Sun with his light, bright smiles! It’s been such a difficult time and even though most days I have no idea where I am on the map, I know I come home whenever I return to my heart … alongside ancient woodlands and peonies in full bloom, mine were exquisite too! Thank you so much Jeanie for your kind words. Blessings always, Deborah.

  2. Angels must have protected you, no less.
    I always thank the One when an unpredictable mishap happens and nobody suffers or is hurt. Especially with cars on the road.
    Like Deborah, I admire your lush peonies. I look forward to a small bunch of eight flowers that will be opening soon in line of sight of my desk, replacing the tulips.
    Enjoy the peace of your sanctuary. And I hope a lovely guitar flies back to you, to accompany your songs around a bonfire on a balmy night..

    1. Thank you, Ashen. Having to park our car on the side of a busy highway always scares me. We’ve had to do it a couple of times, and both times all I could think of was the beautiful son of a friend of ours who was a doctor and stopped behind a car that had been in an accident to offer help. A semi swerved into him and killed him instantly. He was married and had two young sons, all of whom watched this happen from the safety of their car, parked several yards behind. I didn’t want to stay there overlong, which was part of the reason I didn’t go farther back to search. I just didn’t want to be there. Whatever had been lost couldn’t have been as valuable as our lives!

      If we had held off our trip another week, the peonies would be finished. They like the last two weeks in May here. They are my favorite flower, planted about 18 years ago, and I’ve only seen them in their fullness five or six times.

      Thanks for the lovely wishes. If a guitar flies back to me, I’ll be sure to let you know! Meanwhile, I do have an autoharp here, but somehow that feels like cheating. 🙂

      1. With the memory and knowledge of tragic incidents, moreover when they happened to friends, it’s only prudent to be super aware. Yet when in comes to step in and help others in need, often the last thing we think about is our personal safety. I’ve done it in the past, at great risk. Getting older has dampened my readiness for heroics of any kind.

  3. What a story, Jeannie. Good news is now you get a nw guitar!! So sorry that one is gone. Your wishes that someone else is now playing it are perfect.

    1. Thanks, Diane. Yes, a new guitar will be nice, because now I have a much better idea of the qualities I need in a guitar that will suit me best…in terms of the size, length and width of the neck, kind of strings, space between them, etc. I accommodated my hands and body to this one as best I could, but it was a stretch. 🙂

  4. O my goodness Jeanie! (Never trust google maps and short cuts tempting though they are.) I’m sorry about the loss of your guitar, but getting a new one is an exciting prospect. And you never know, it may come back to you and if not, may the person who finds and keeps it, enjoy it as much as you did. Your hands, voice and songs will dance over the new one for sure. Your pictures are a delight and may the summer vacation and surrounds continue to offer up its gifts to you both. How lovely to be feeling the lightness of being … love, Susan

    1. I laughed at your first two lines! What were we thinking to try new roads when we’ve gone the same way for 37 years? I guess we were in the mood for an adventure. We sure got one, Luckily, the traffic on the road we were on was thin. I’m so grateful it didn’t happen in the usual heavy traffic of the interstate highway where the guitar could have smashed into a car and caused a terrible accident.

      I do feel lighter here. Maybe it’s the higher altitude and being surrounded by nature’s blessings: woods, mountains, flowers, all manner of critters, the sounds of splashing waterfalls and gurgling streams and birdsong, the cool air, the frequent gentle sprinklings of rain that are a far cry from Florida’s summer thunderstorms. Or it could be that I’m relaxing a lot more after so many months of pushing myself with book-related activities.

      Or maybe it’s a combination of both. I still have presentations and signings here too, but somehow I’m so much more relaxed about them. Or maybe it’s just age. Whatever the reason, I seem to be adopting a “Hakuna matata” attitude, to borrow a phrase from some of your neighboring countries. A welcome change.

      I wish you a peaceful and healthy fall and winter. Love, Jeanie

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