In Search of Treasure

By Kim Seeley

My mother and I have made an annual jaunt to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for several years now. We are treasure-seekers, but not in the usual sense. There are two events which determine the exact timing of our trip. One, of course, is the peak season of the fall foliage. I anxiously scan the websites of the Virginia Department of Tourism and the National Park Service for the first two weeks of October, trying to choose the best time to travel Skyline Drive and view the fall extravaganza of colors.

The second event is of equal importance – the Green Valley Book Fair. It is only held during certain weeks of the year, which makes timing our trip quite important. When can we be certain of attending the book fair and seeing Mother Nature’s splendor? I finally decide on dates and book the hotel. The weather predictions are good, the leaf display sounds promising, and we will attend the book fair on the first day of our trip.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Green Valley Book Fair, it is not like the annual book fair held in your child’s school. The location is directly off Interstate 81, just a few miles from Harrisonburg. It is housed in two huge metal buildings and located behind a bucolic white-framed farmhouse, with spotted cows and dairy farms scattered about the entrance road. One metal building is devoted to books for children and young adults, and I immediately head for the board books, which cannot be easily destroyed by my two-year-old grandson. The books are arranged by ages, topics, Caldecott and Newbery medal winners, religious titles, Spanish titles and many others.

When my mother and I finish browsing the children’s section, she rests for a bit near the front. I head for the second metal building to do a treasure hunt of my own. Here are the New York Times best-sellers, the popular authors, romance novels, Christian fiction, classics and more. On another level are the non-fiction books, history, psychology, art, sports, you name it. I could literally spend hours in this building, but I want to check into our hotel soon, so I concentrate on choosing my winter reading.

I come back to my mother’s resting spot with my arms loaded with treasure. I show her my jewels – the Pulitzer Prize winners, Book of the Year winners, Nobel Prize winners and personal favorites of mine. Mom is equally excited, because she knows she will read them as soon as I finish them. We gather our riches and head for the check-out counter. I saved the best part of this book fair for last. Every single title is marked down by 75%. I almost feel guilty, walking away with two bags of knowledge, imagination and experiences for such a bargain.

The next two days, my mother and I continue on our quest for jewels. We travel Skyline Drive and view a vast wonderland of colors, particularly enjoying the gold, amber, scarlet and orange colors of the various types of trees. King Midas owned no gold that could rival one particular part of Skyline Drive, where the glistening golden trees arch over the road and encircle you in beauty. Mother Nature has left us stunned once again.

We exit at New Market to visit yet another treasure trove – Showalter’s Apple Orchard. We visit this lovely farm each year and have the opportunity to pick apples off the trees, choose our own apples to bag or buy them by the bags. Once again, we are overwhelmed by the variety and perfection of these red, green and yellow beauties. I load the car with apples of various colors and types, savoring their delicious aroma as I place them gently in the back recesses of the trunk.

When we head for home the next day, we are once again treated to a stunning feast of leaves in all their splendor. We admire the scenery and are grateful for great driving weather. Interstate 64 near Charlottesville is arrayed with a rainbow of colors that rivals Skyline Drive. Once we return home, I help my mother unload her luggage and her riches, and then return home with my own. I unpack my treasures and put them away.

The apples are in the crisper and the pantry. They will be eaten within the month. Bags of apples sit by the door to be given to family. But the books are in the study, waiting for winter. After the Christmas tree is put away, and the lights are stored in the attic, these treasures will see me through the dark of winter, taking me to unseen lands, helping me to understand other life experiences. I will sip hot chocolate, wrap up in my fleecy robe, and immerse myself in my jewels, which will bring light into the shortest, darkest days of the year.

I will delve into the worlds of other people’s imaginations. I will ride the winds of these creative authors’ makings. And I will be thankful for my own fall journey, which led me to these purchases. Always and forever, I will be grateful that I shared these journeys with my mother, who has always shared her love of nature and beauty with me.

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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