Wednesday, April 17, 2013

At Home in the South

a summary

While my family back in Colorado has been hit with one major snowstorm after another, the south has blossomed like a sweet magnolia, or what I imagine a magnolia would look like in bloom, having never actually seen one. (We've got dogwood and forsythia and wisteria all blossoming, but no maggies yet). We had white flowering trees back in Colorado, but the ones here are more dramatic somehow, fluffy like clouds of whipped cream lining the streets, alternating with fat-blossomed scoops of strawberry. Brevard looks and smells like a frivolous dessert after a long, dark fast and I'm stunned to realize I haven't taken any pictures. I've felt a bit stunned lately.

With the kinder weather, I have remembered everything I loved about this place when we first arrived. The social scene is so vibrant and happening. It's like nobody told these people they live in a sleepy southern town so they party like it's Chelsea in the 60's. Well almost. Chelsea in the 60's with a lot of children running in around in noisy packs. Recently there was a potluck--the best parties here are often potlucks--and after mojito madness and heavy plates of delicious Cuban food, we stood around the fire, the kids determindely snapping off branches of the Christmas tree that was decaying in the back yard and tossing them to the fire with destructive joy. The hostess was one of the first friends I made here last summer, the Baptist from South Carolina who brings sweet tea vodka everywhere and talks as if she's writing a script as she goes along. "Care to step out for some celebrations and libations?" she asked me once. Or, "This snake swam up to lick a sniff." And how can you not love someone who already has herbs growing up in her garden yet still has the Christmas tree in the yard? (I don't think she reads this blog, but just in case, P--you are a treasure).

So already there have been several nights of patios and beers, afternoons of sunshine and iced coffee, dewy warm mornings with gentle humidity and a loud surplus of birds. The cardinals flash crimson against the blue sky, the woodpecker swoops by all black and white in his funny red fez. Bluebirds and something canary yellow and hummingbirds if I'm lucky. They sound all day but are riotous at dawn. If I only had sound to go off, I'd guess I was waking every morning in the Amazon, some thick jungle from an Allende novel where I stand barefoot atop the rich and squelching soil.

Ayla snapped that first picture of me last night. In it I'm cooking the apple-chardonnay sausages that Indy would begin to choke on a few minutes later, sending me flying out of my chair to give her the Heimlich. One moment I noticed she was struggling to breathe and the next I had her in my arms over the toilet, nothing in the whole wide world but the knowledge that I was going to force that meat from my daughter's air pipe, and I did. Something flew out and I said, "Can you breathe?", but she couldn't answer--from coughing, I think, but to be safe I did the thrust again and she puked. She drooled a bit. "You made me throw up," she said in wonder and I stood there, bent over, her back to my heart, cells from her body still swimming around in mine. I held her, quivering all over, steadying the rhythms of our simultaneous breath.

Everything was all right. Thanks to the great generosity of Margi, who writes at May I Have A Word?, I was able to enjoy a massage yesterday. It was much needed; I've been off the computer for a week due to pain shooting down my mouse arm and entire right side. The morning started out cloudy and misty, very Transylvanian indeed as I drove through rolling hills, past tired old horses and beautiful houses all given up, letting twisting vines and grasses claim them back. But by the time the massage was over, the sky broke blue and I sat at a coffee shop drinking my latte on ice and watching the school children in matching P.E. uniforms playing across the street. They were on a wide stretch of private school-green, an unbelievable hue. People were reading in the park, the children were shouting and chasing some puffy, floaty thing around in the sky. Every car that passed had a window down, the same summer-coming breeze in everyone's hair as we planned our meals, picked up coffee, sang out of tune. Everything was all right as you know it is in so much of the world, so much of the time.

*I just found out that those fat scoops of strawberry ice cream trees are, in fact, Magnolias. Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!*


  1. Having been right where you are last week, I could see and feel and smell all of this. Yes, spring is, as I said in a post last week, knocking you upside the head.
    As Lis and I were driving down the dirt road which led down from the house we were staying in one day, two huge woodpeckers swooped beside the car, almost as if they were escorting us.
    Enjoy this time in North Carolina.
    And honey- you did good making your daughter puke. Lord. Those moments of pure, focused terror.

  2. I have absolutely nothing to add except Please. Keep. Writing. Your view of the world and your craft with words and the senses are singular.

    So happy Indy is ok, I could feel your maternal terror. Cells mingling...

    Really glad you've fallen back in love with your new home! xoxo You make me want to visit.

  3. Gosh, woman, how you write! I could see and smell and hear it all, feel your determination as you Heimliched your child, knowing you would save her, and the sweet companionship of friends, the porches and libations, the green of the lawn, the blossoms like fluffy desserts, it's like you're falling in love all over again, seeing the possibilities. And the photos, each one absolutely perfect and full of story. Oh yes.

  4. With the exception of your sly insertion of the scary choking incident, this post was such a pleasure to read. It just rolled around my brain and on my tongue, and I could nearly SMELL it. I love your writing so much.

  5. This is the South I love. You write it so well.
    And seriously, could you be any more beautiful? I think not.

  6. brevard is a truly lovely place. when i was a teenager, i had a friend whose sister lived there, and we used to visit a lot in the summers.


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