With the world turned upside down, and I am more or less self-quarantined, I tend to rely more and more on comfort zones to pass the time of day/week/month.

As a result of being house bound by the virus, I have become a creature of habit. When I wake in the morning, first thing I do is turn on the TV and coffee pot. While the coffee is brewing, I do my personal hygienics. Then I lay back in my recliner, cover up with my Alabama throw, sip on my first cup of coffee, and for a short period of time, forget about COVID-19, California burning, the major city riots, and the floods in Texas. I think the smell and taste of the coffee sends me into a sleepy state of euphoria.

If the weather is mild, Judy and I will sit on our screened porch and watch the local news while eating breakfast and drinking our second cup of java. In October (having breakfast on the porch) the air has a little nip, but watching a beautiful sunrise in the clear, blue, October sky blots out any unpleasant apprehension of feeling the chilled air.

If I do become chilled, I will go into the den and back up to the fireplace. There is a no more relaxing feeling then standing in front of a warm fire as it heats up the back of your pant legs and shirt. Within a couple of minutes, my eyelids begin to sag, a couple of yawns, then I’m back in the recliner under my Alabama throw dreaming that Alabama just defeated Auburn for the national championship.

When Judy and I get “cabin fever,” we go for a drive into the mountains of northeast Madison and north Jackson Counties. If the autumn leaves have changed, the red, yellow, and orange colors rival those that you experience in the Smoky Mountains.

The Flint and Paint Rock Rivers originate in these mountains and have a beautiful, soothing sound as they flow over boulders headed to the mighty Tennessee. There is nothing more calming than sitting on the river bank with your feet dangling in the water pitching pebbles at the colorful fall leaves as they float by. Sharing a small picnic lunch adds sentimental atmosphere to the ambience of the surroundings.

Great exercise and another escape of the virus world is the hiking trail that runs around the south side of Bishop Mountain, from Guntersville Dam to Honeycomb Campground. The trail runs along the lake edge as it goes though Hambrick and Pumpkin Hollows and along bluffs that overlook the Tennessee River. Wander off the trail and you will find evidence of hillbilly entrepreneurship. There are cliffs, caves, and an old cemetery and home places that time has forgotten. As you walk the trail, look for various kinds of animal life: squirrels, rabbits, geese, ducks, beaver, mink, otter, turkey, deer, and if real lucky, grizzly bear.

Judy and I love to travel throughout the U.S. and try to take three or four trips each year. This past year has been very disappointing, but we have found that if we look, there is adventure right in our own back yard. By the way, I was just kidding about the grizzly bear.

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