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Loran Smith Columnist

Published Saturday, May 12, 2012

Good life along the Chattahoochee

ATLANTA – A comforting respite on a weekend while visiting old friends, who live by the Chattahoochee, was again a reminder that in this state, there generally is a pleasant and alluring environment wherever you pause — there’s good living to be found everywhere.

Our friendship with Don and Barbara Hemrick dates back far enough that it has afforded us the opportunity to explore many venues — those just down the road and many with an overseas address. Our common interests include golf, Georgia football, history and travel. Not only that, our wives are joyfully compatible, which makes for an abiding friendship. When wives are rivals, neither heaven nor earth, silver nor gold, can bring about peace.

It was a warm spring weekend when we showed up on a Friday for our visit. Our socializing began with good wine, which warmed body and soul. As the afternoon shadows encroached across the Chattahoochee, we took pause on their porch, which is graced by ivy, greenery, a variety of plants, and a built-in waterfall whose gurgling noises competed with the sounds of the Chattahoochee drifting by.

This is a place I have come to enjoy, highlighted by the opportunity to watch the happenings on the river. A majestic blue heron squawks leisurely and flies to the banks on the other side. Wood ducks and mallards sprint above the tree line, the mallards abruptly U-turning and landing adroitly on the water. Greenheads pontificating — it is easy to surmise that it would be unthinkable for waterfowl to engage in gossip — on the Chattahoochee is a scene to recur in your reflections when you turn in for the night. Open a window, and you can hear the whisper of the Chattahoochee — the river makes you sleep better.

A sunset accented by the soft cacophonous honking of a dozen Canada geese makes you realize that you are surrounded by nature’s refreshing embrace. And we are in the city! The Chattahoochee, which flows from the hills of Habersham, alone the western border of Coweta County, then to the southern end of our state, is Georgia’s most romantic river. Nowhere does it have a blight. The Chattahoochee speaks to the heart everywhere it flows.

The Chattahoochee is home to beautiful rainbow trout near its headwaters, north of Helen. It quenches Atlanta’s thirst, and it irrigates the fields and farms in South Georgia. I spent this past weekend looking at the dark waters of the Chattahoochee at a point which provides a playground for a variety of waterfowl. This scene made me think: How wonderful would it be to float from the hills of Habersham to Lake Seminole? Wouldn’t that equal the satisfaction of walking the Appalachian Trail?

With a manuscript that needed attention, I had the best setting to work for two mornings, seeing the sun come up and smiling its way through the trees and glistening off the Chattahoochee. The symphony of birds at daybreak is one of the sweetest. You can find them everywhere, unless you drink too much and sleep too late. I’d hate to miss daybreak and what nature offers because I had one too many the night before.

That being said, there is nothing better than time spent with our friends on the porch overlooking the Chattahoochee. It is a poignant reminder that, in the midst of Atlanta’s bigness, problems and traffic snarls, there are pockets of green and water, solitude and tranquility, in an exciting city known for its landscaping and harmony.

Giving some emphasis to a daily walk, it is only a short trek to the Lovett School football field and track. At the north end zone, a statue of a lion, the Lovett mascot, makes you cogitate. Even with the hungry fury with which lions live, we are reminded of their statuesque features and their regal look. With more Canada geese patrolling overhead and the Chattahoochee picking up the pace, I finished my walk and went over and patted the lion on the head and saluted him with a toast of respect.

Life in the city! It ain’t so shabby.

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