by sarah
I am learning to live slow. That's how life here is, slow and easy.  It's also courteous and rich in many ways.  Slow is not a complaint, it's just a way of living in this town.  Who could complain about it really, the rewards are worth every minute.  The flowers they offer you, the vegetables they leave, the tea they serve you, they are all better than you could ever expect.  It does take some getting used to though.  The general small town rule, what I call the "who knows who" game, most definitely must be followed, especially if you're new in town.  If you need anything, and I mean anything, everyone knows someone who knows someone who is more than happy to help. You may have to wait a little to have walls moved and a room painted, but in the end, that will be the prettiest room in your house.  They give their word on that and I can attest to it.  

We had hoped to move into the new house by the end of August, but since it's half way through already and we are no where near the end of our to-do list, I enjoy these August days at the cabin still. And that is not a complaint either, I'm sure everyone knows I am in love with our little cabin hidden in the pine trees at the end of the lake's cove. 
The days here are filled with a high hot sun and afternoon showers.  The geese have flown away but there is now a beautiful white egret who has joined the two blue herons on the island.  I'm sure everyone knows too by now that I love the blue herons. I was sitting on the dock the other night, sunset is the best time if you want to watch the fish and turtles swim under the water, and thought how perfect it would be if I were a painter and could put everything I love about the lake onto a canvas, to paint it with words and watercolors. 
The days are also filled with long drives in the country, rodeos, picnics and the best flower and vegetable stands I have ever stopped at.  A Georgia peach...you must try and you don't need to travel far to find bushels of sweet corn picked that very morning.  For a smile and conversation you may find an extra ear or two in your basket.  As with everything around here, the longer you linger, the longer it takes...the better it is.  This is truly a good way to live.



We just returned from a long weekend at the farm.  This visit was long overdue, one I've been longing for and afraid of.  I hadn't been there since last September and have secretly been thankful that I could mourn from a thousand miles away and not have the lakes and the land and the berries to remind me that my father is not there.  In my own home, safe and alone,  I cried.  Sometimes I cried so hard and deep that I couldn't make one more tear.  Yet, the others I left behind started their days with an emptiness, constant empty reminders that they had to learn to live with.  I'm sure the emptiness was piercing.

I held my breath and silently prayed on the drive up to the house.  I asked for peace and strength, and Dear God, if I need clarity, please lead me the way.  I held that breath all the way up to the door and walked in.  There was peace.  I stood at the window and looked out on to the land, and there was strength.  I should have come sooner.

Many years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about what would be harder, losing a spouse or losing a child.  I often wonder why we didn't include losing a parent.  I guess you expect that mom and dad are always going to be there.  Sometimes I feel a little twinge in my stomach, like a fluttering butterfly when I say it out loud that my father has died.  I don't know how one would measure pain, but it's terrible.   
Time, given enough of it, is supposed to heal and make things better, a little easier.  But, it's really more about spreading your heartaches further apart, until you get to the day where you can talk about that person without a tear rolling down your cheek.  I'm still waiting, but this trip to the farm was worth millions.
and while my father wasn't there in person, he was there, larger than life.

I've also written about the farm  HERE  /  HERE /   HERE /   HERE  



Just when I think I'm losing enthusiasm and energy to do one more thing at the new house, I let a day or two go by before going back.   I feed the birds at the cabin (who love dry cat food), eat lunch in the small town cafes and browse their antique stores, or dream the afternoons away at the nursery, pretending I have all the money in the world to spend on arbors and stone pathways.  I completely block out the house and it's smelly dark hallways and pink woodwork.   

It seems to work best that way.  I would hate for my relationship with it to sour.  Because, for better or worse, once I get indifferent with something, it's hard for me to fully embrace it again.  I've struggled with that for a long time and I wouldn't say it's a good quality to possess.  I've lost some people in my life who I wish now I could have back, but I've also kicked a lot of nonsense and stress to the curb ..... give and take I guess.
Thankfully, the house has come a long way from the day we got the keys.  We, Chad and I, have always been a good team, but for some reason, one that I can't exactly put my finger on, this project seems extraordinarily special.  My best guess is that it's a finality to a hard year, a year of separation, change, illness, death, growth, moving on and some unexpected challenges.  A year we got through, together.
So, cheers to that and to two rooms completed!



This cove gets dark and eerie on the nights when the water is high.  Last night I could almost reach down and grab a fish with my bare hands.   Shadows lurk under the dock like big black holes, shifting into different shapes.  Yet, the silence on these nights is often scarier than the shadows.  Sometimes, the only sounds are faint ones from the shore where the fish are swimming in the swamp bushes.  They go there to hide when the dam opens, the water floods and the sun starts to set. 

I was there last night as the sky turned purple, hoping I would fade into the quiet darkness, become another shadow on the water.  Not to escape, but to learn to be less fearful of the dark here.  I had hoped to get photos of the sunset, a sequence as it dropped behind the trees.  However, I got lost in thought and it suddenly became clear to me why I love being here.

As far back as I can remember, there has always been a lake in my life.  My memories are filled with childhood summers at my grandparent's house, and of course, the lake on my father's farm is so dear to me.  Every year of my life, there's never not been a lake.  However this came to be, I now have my own.

I'm looking out the window now, rain is pouring down but the water is crystal clear.  I can see the sand and the island and the bottom of the dock today. 



When we told people we were moving to this town, they told us to run.  Run far away....it's corrupt, it's dirty, it's poor.   "Why?" they asked.  We've seen scowls and frowns and turned shoulders.  We've felt the disappointment, the disgust, the judgment.  
But, with every winding street and secret drive, it pulled us in.  In so tight we knew we had to live here.  Our hearts are calm here, every beat at peace. 

It is old here, some of it is dirty and a lot of it is poor.  But there's stories to tell and stories to share here.  The pull tells us to be a part of the belonging, part of the growing, part of the people.  So here we are, at our new home.  
" If you judge people, you have no time to love them"  (Mother Teresa)  



I was warned that summers in the south would shake me up a little.  That's what one woman said to me in line at the grocery store the first week I was down here.  I think I laughed a little and made some remark about my wild curly hair, completely unaware that what she really meant was, the days are so hot that you breathe steam and sweat will run down your back relentlessly.  She was probably thinking, you poor poor girl...you'll see.


So it's hot here.  I've also come to learn that we are fools....undeniably, foolish.  I don't know what happened to simplifying and downsizing, but along the way, we got starry-eyed for the grandeur of an old southern home.  Of course, it's not livable and is filthy beyond comprehension.  It was practically free, and good thing because every inch of it needs work.  We've switched our tune from a little cottage to a big family home that everyone can share.  Only to justify our foolishness.  But, it does have eleven pecan trees and two pear trees and a huge yard for those secret gardens I want.  And if I cool down enough to sort through 622 pictures, I'll let you in on our very slow progress.
All in all, it's good.  It's hot, sweaty, foolish good. 



The afternoons are all the same.  Every day around three o'clock, when the sun is high and the sky is blue, the rain pours down, fierce and wild.  Yesterday, I took a break before it came and planted flowers that I can see from the kitchen window.  
They call the rains, sunshowers . . . isn't that a happy and wonderful word.
Enjoy your weekend, friends. 



I wandered around the yard this weekend, dreaming of how I can make hidden paths and secret gardens, should I want to pick flowers in my nightgown as the evening sun sets, or in the early morning before anyone awakes.