Our darling daughters and sons- in- law surprised us with an incredible gift for our 35th anniversary. The gift of beauty, peace and rest.
We arrived just a few days after the first freeze of the season. The fall vegetation surrounding the historic lodge was quickly turning from lush and green to orange and brown. Watching this little valley transition to dormancy was a welcome change for us.
Spectacular sandstone cliffs surround the secluded valley.
Rustic log cabins blend perfectly into the rugged landscape.
Inside the lodge. The first structure was built in 1908 and is still used as the kitchen where fabulous gourmet meals are prepared by head chef, Amanda Stine.
Here's my long time love in front of our cozy log cabin. We were able to sit on our stone porch and watch the the waters of Oak Creek wash over the boulders.
Below, a grove of Ponderosa pines line the creek and stand guard over the grassy lawn in front of the lodge.
We wandered the grounds finding shady, tranquil beauty at every turn. We followed a road to the upper level of the property. There, it opened up to a clearing where the garden and greenhouse were located.
The garden was "done for the season", but still beautiful! Funny, how you can see the life of a garden in the dormant and frost bitten vegetation. We looked for Mario Valuruz, the gardener but never had a chance to meet him. Still, I would like to thank him for the many evident hours of hard work and skill that he put into his incredible garden and greenhouse. The gardener and the earth. There is a kind of sacred partnership going on there.
Here is Mario's greenhouse. We stepped into a sun-infused room filled with heirloom tomato plants reaching twelve feet high. If you ever have the chance to stand alone in the stillness of a warm, humid, earthy greenhouse, you don't want to miss it! It is an amazing experience.
I'm thinking the green tomatoes were harvested from the outside garden with the news of the dropping temperatures.
Next, we cross the bridge and enter the orchard.
Orchard... my heart skips a beat when I hear the word.
It amazes me that the planting of a spindly little stick can grow and provide such breathtaking beauty and rich abundance for all. If my husband and I happened to be the only humans here, I would run circles around these trees, lie down in the midst of them and gaze through their branches.
Below, the orchard is kept vibrant with a newer planting of peach trees. Early White Grand, Red Haven, Coral Star and Babcock are a few of the varieties.
The heritage fruit trees at Garlands have been treated well, and are still healthy and strong.
This is Rob Lautze, master orchardist. He has been the caretaker of this orchard for twenty years. He walked with us through his trees, naming the ages and varieties like they are friends. Gravensteins, Jonareds, Grimes Golden, Northern Spy, Stayman Winesap and many others grace his orchard. Rob talked and we listened, but there was so much information that we couldn't take it all in. Years of pruning, training, thinning, feeding, harvesting... caring for fruit trees is a year round activity that calls for lots of passion and knowledge.
Garland's is famous for it's fresh organic apple cider. Rob took us through each step using this apple press. ( Rob, please let me come back and help you pick apples and watch this whole process!)
Rob brought us to the apple barn and stepped into his large refrigerator. He gathered a handful of apples stored for winter keeping and shared them with us.
He took a big bite, chewed and smiled at the same time.
We tried the apples too, they are amazing!
Arkansas Blacks and Romes.
He didn't know it, but this was the best part of our stay at Garland's Lodge.
Happy Anniversary to us!
to Mary and Gary Garland
and to Meagan for answering all of my questions.
and especially to our daughters ~