As Summer suddenly surrendered to Fall, a Wheeling, West Virginia, outdoor festival complete with creativity, food and breathtaking views helped me say good-bye to my favorite season. Early October can bring drastically varying weather to this part of the country. In past years, Oglebayfest has been drenched with rain, scorched by the sun, or chilled to the bones. But the 2016 weekend was blessed by partly sunny skies and comfortable coolness, issuing in jeans and sweaters season.
This brought a crowd to the ski resort known for its Christmas lights displays. When we arrived, my husband was unable to find a parking space near the Artists’ Market, so I was dropped off there to begin my tour. Almost instantly, the feast for my senses began. Oglebay’s summer is highlighted by beautiful gardens, and on this October Saturday, the blossoms seemed oblivious to the approaching frosts.
Winding down the flower-lined path toward the craft booths, I filled my lungs with cool, clean air and began to catch the scents of popping kettle corn and frying potatoes and peppers. Having lived much of my life in flat, farming country, I delighted in being on top of a West Virginia mountain overlooking the beautiful park. There is a sense of almost dizzying AWE when one is standing above the land and closer to the sky.
Still, I wasted no time in getting to the first artist’s booth, a jewelry display that I recognized from past visits. While my husband was slowly making his way down the hill and eventually back up searching for a parking space, I enjoyed visiting potters, woodworkers, and painters, making mental notes of particularly creative items for which I might return. One tent contained delightful hand-painted gourd decorations hung on a Christmas tree – did I just say Christmas? A young woman was in the process of choosing an ornament for her mother, and my brief interaction with her increased my joyfulness. It is a wonderful feeling to find that “perfect” gift for a loved one. By the end of the festival, I had purchased a Christmas gift for each of my sisters and two old-fashioned clothespin dolls to tuck into Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
I was about half way though the Artists’ Market when Dave was finally able to join me. I kidded him about being lucky to not have had to endure all of my shopping, but, I truly appreciate his willingness to take me to festivals and help me make decisions about purchases. Together, we bought a handmade house number sign for our home.
Walking along, we met several friends to talk to and could hear talented musicians performing well-known songs. Another sense was satisfied, with only taste left to be indulged. Festival goers were welcome to sample a variety of wares, including wine, dips, fudge, and roasted peanuts. My chosen comfort food was rice pudding, and Dave went for those fried potatoes. And, off course, we took home a bag of kettle corn for later.
At the end of the day, I rested in a deep sense of contentment. Why is that? An interesting piece in Sunday’s newspaper quoted the author, saying “Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.” The article focused on rock climbing as a potential healing process for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with one young man saying “I literally climbed out of depression.” When I couple the awe of nature’s beauty – mountains, gardens, sky – with the amazing creativity of artists, I experience an uplifting sense of joy and feel motivated to create.
Science is revealing the benefits of getting outside, walking in the forest, looking at the stars, and experiencing AWE. A few days after Oglebayfest, we’ve had frost and are seeing tinges of color in the leaves. It will be a another beautiful time of the year.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1