During the last weekend of April, I traveled with my kids to Greenville, South Carolina. One of my dearest friends moved there two years ago from her cozy little home in Narberth, in search of Southern hospitality, a slower pace and green pastures (literally).
Downtown Greenville is charming. There are beautiful waterfalls, walking paths galore, streets lined with huge, old, leafy trees and more ice cream shops than I could count. Many of the restaurants boast outdoor seating and open store fronts and the sounds of music both live and radioed filter out onto the sidewalks.
My friend’s house, though, is about thirty minutes outside of Greenville. Her neighborhood is a new community, homed within hundreds of acres of protected land. There are just 52 lots, about half that are built or in the process. The neighborhood is sprawling, tucked into lush green forests and the top of the neighborhood overlooks breathtaking mountain views. It’s idyllic. Just beautiful. Cooler yet, is the trail system through the trees that connects different areas of the neighborhood. If you didn’t know the trails were there, you wouldn’t see them. They weave in and out and open to some of the community’s exclusive treasures – a working farm where community members help plant and harvest seasonal crops and a chicken coop where fresh eggs are collected and sold using the good old honor system and a mason jar for payment. The trails also open onto one of my favorite parts of the community – a sandy riverside beach with low hanging branches and wading pools. Swoon.
We spent a big chunk of our Saturday afternoon along the river. The kids (my friend has a daughter the same age as my son) played and played in the shallow water. They covered themselves in sand, caught tadpoles, floated down river in the gentle current and were just completely lost in the moment. My friend and I sat with the sun on our faces and our toes in the sand, chatting, making up for lost time and watching the kids smile, laugh and splash. Truly, it was perfect.
I couldn’t help but ponder the stillness and simplicity of it all. It was so peaceful there, both beside the river and at her home. Sitting on the front porch rocking chairs with an afternoon cup of tea watching the kids play in the sprinkler and chase lizards made my heart happy. There were no fancy toys, electronics or “things to do.” It was just birds chirping, dripping wet kids, a big bowl of green grapes to snack on, sunshine and fresh air. Dinner around the huge and weather worn farmhouse table was full of conversation, laughter and amazingly good food. I felt like we were somehow in a Hallmark movie.
Our return to our Havertown home sweet home was welcomed and a settling feeling of familiar, but I find myself daydreaming to the day when we get to return to the quiet, the simple and the green of Greenville. And as I continue to hunt for a new Havertown home sweet home, I’ve added a front porch for rocking chairs to the “must-have” list.