Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Remembering a long and memorable Valentine's weekend

It was a long and glorious weekend of love.

We packed on Saturday, attended the early service Sunday morning and then after a quick lunch headed eastward to Fall Creek Falls state park. We took old U.S. 70 much of the way, which allowed us a more leisurely view of the countryside. During part of our journey we listened to one of the tapes from "Co-Dependent No More" by Melodie Beattie. As we drove along, the gently rolling hills of Middle Tennessee gradually gave way to the more mountainous topography of Eastern Tennessee. When we arrived, the park was blanketed in a fresh layer of snow, which continued to fall throughout Sunday night. It was a "perfect storm" in that the temperature didn't fall low enough to make roads slippery, but did allow plenty of snow to cover everything. We visited the famous Fall Creek Falls Monday afternoon and again Tuesday morning before leaving. We took plenty of pictures of the 256-foot cascade, which is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi.

We checked into our cabin about 4:30 p.m., where I was successful in hooking up our XM Satellite Radio receiver to a boom box for constant non-commercial musical enjoyment. Sunday night was a full moon, which was obscured by the clouds; however on Monday night we got to see it rise over the lake.

We stayed in a "Fisherman's Cabin," which is built right out over the lake. It has a full kitchen, central heat and a wall of glass windows on the lake side that bathes the cabin in light during the day. Ducks and Canada geese swam up to (and under) our deck, beckoned by our presence for a possible handout (they were not disappointed). Monday night we took pictures of the full moon and the 2+ foot-long icicles that dangled over the water from the cabin roof. Shortly after we arose on Tuesday morning I saw most of them fall into the lake.

We stopped by Cookeville on our way to the park Sunday afternoon for provisions. That night we warmed up a turkey breast, my wife prepared stuffing, and I fixed us a salad. We watched a bit of the Olympics, but pretty much spent our time there without watching much TV. Monday night I broiled a steak in the broiler instead of attempting to barbecue on the outside grill, which was covered in snow. This was the first time I've broiled a steak in the oven; it was delicious! We also made a chocolate cheesecake Monday afternoon for my birthday (which was Tuesday - that's right - Valentine's Day). A friend of my wife sent her the recipe, which was simple and scrumptious.

Late Monday morning we drove up to Cookeville for an hour-long couples' massage, then had a quick lunch at a forgettable eatery (the "Soup Kitchen") before returning to the park for an afternoon of picture-taking. We drove the scenic loop that includes a stop at Fall Creek Falls, where we took lots of pictures. The sun was low in the sky by that time, giving us some great angles and interesting light on the newly-fallen snow. We visited the falls again Tuesday morning on our way out. My wife hiked with me down several snow-laden trails; I'm quite proud of her!

Tuesday after checking out, we traveled again up to Cookeville and this time had a memorable lunch at Bobby Q's barbecue. I highly recommend it.

Shortly after arriving home Tuesday afternoon, we changed clothes and headed out to a couples' seminar at the University School of Nashville, taught by practitioners of Imago. After "meet & greet," the couples were instructed how to perform two exercises. One was called "dialogue" and consisted of one person telling the other a specific thing they appreciated about the other person. Then the person hearing would repeat what the other person had said to them (this is so they would "take it in), and then say "You're welcome." This is the hardest part - it's easier to come back and say "Thank you" when some one appreciates something about you.

The second exercise was called "positive flooding," and I enjoyed it the most. One person sits in a chair, while the other one circles closely, talking to the seated person. You cover three areas in 30 seconds each: Physical, Emotional/Behavioral and Closing. While you are in front, you make eye contact, and during your talk you maintain physical contact with the seated person. During the physical part, you tell the person all the physical things you appreciate about her/him. During the emotional/behavioral part, you tell the person the aspects of her/his personality and behaviors that you most appreciate. During the closing, you have a "big finish," saying something like, "You're a goddess, and I worship at your feet." That's what I said, anyway.

Afterwards, filled with even more positive feelings about one another, we headed to a little Mexican restaurant near where we live, then headed home to relax on the couch for a little while before collapsing into bed, physically spent but emotionally fulfilled by our days and nights of love.

And yes, we did make love - a lot. It was fabulous.

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