The Current

I watched the sunlight ripple across the waters of the eddy pool. Off to my left the ocean roared with the intensity of an untamed lion, but beneath my gaze the trapped saltwater  was gentle and clear. I had tied a piece of fish  to a string hoping to catch the blue crab I’d seen scuttling along the smooth sandy bottom. I tossed my bait watching it rise, arc and then fall into the waters . It sank gently and came to rest on one of the miniature dunes that had formed upon the eddy pools floor. I settled in to rest upon the waters edge gripping my bait attached string and watching  the many schools of minnows hurry by . Quick shadows racing to the shallows and then just as rapidly fleeing to the depths. I let the suns rays warm my face and the steady breeze toss my hair . There I drifted for a bit , allowing my existence here to be nothing more and nothing less.

I was not conciously aware of how long a time passed, maybe a few minutes maybe more. But I had become gentle in the moment, just myself , the cawing of the seabirds whirling above my head and the oceans many vacillating moods . I felt the smallest tug at my string, faint ,yet discernible and I looked towards my bait. The blue crab had found the tasty delight of rotting fish and gripped it with one of its handy claws. It was a lovely crab I noticed. The ivory whiteness of its shell outlined with rich vermillion around the black edges on its claws , the vibrant red slowly fading to gentle pink. Ivory then took over and mingled with many hues of blue. Becoming those of the skies  and then the color of the seas the colors darkened across its back. I watched the crab hold the treasured piece of fish with the largest of its claws and reach with the smaller to pick off a parcel of the flesh which it promptly gobbled up.

The current world faded away from me and disappeared into the background. This moment was just myself,  the sun, the surf and the crab beneath the waters . It picked another sliver of meat off the bait I had deftly secured to the string, held it in its smaller claw and turned. It turned not away from my gaze , but towards it. With that gentle move our eyes met. Mine, the human’s , the predator , the one supposedly at the top of the food chain. It’s, the crab’s , a creeper of the oceans floor , one who could exist above and below the waters, supposedly a mere crustacean , non-sentient. Time slowed between us and I saw the lesser claw extend the prized sliver of fish towards me. An offering perhaps . I had brought the bait , yet we must share. The world beyond our slowed moment in time would say this was crazy . The world beyond our moment would explain this was just a movement against the current. I would now agree with the world. In their perception, I was crazy and this most certainly was a movement against the current.

The blue crab moved towards me not away as it ate my declined offer of  fish. I released the string and let the binding strand float away across the breeze rippling surface of the eddy pool. My eyes stayed locked with gentle being beneath the waters. The crab seemed to sit back as if waiting. I sighed to myself and released all the strings. Cut loose all the bait. Became closer to being my truest essence of self. I let many strings float away that day, under the watchful eyes of the crab as it feasted  upon the decaying fish. I had been attached to the decay to long and now was the time unmake all the unnatural that had been instilled in me. Yes, the world beyond this moment would say I was crazy, but I simply decided to move against the current .

Off to my left the ocean rumbled with a tumultuous crash as the incoming tide breached the edge of the glassy pool opening it up to the wide endless seas beyond . The inflow lifted the crab and it floated. Our eyes stayed locked for one more moment and then it turned to swim the current outwards  towards the freedom of the  seas.  I sighed to myself, arose to my feet, gave a symbolic wave to my departing crab and turned to do the same. To move against the current  and to finally be free.

Voices

I watched the cream melt away into the darkness of my coffee cup. The thick light swirl took the darkness of the potent brew away and turned it into a lighter shade, a sort of dawn. I drank it down, hot and rich, with any bite that was the darkness now assailed by the light that was the thick rich cream. Just another Monday when we rolled into another week, another month and another year. A cavalcade of many which all seemed to move by so rapidly they were akin to the blurred advertisements on the side of a passing city train. In any case I was thankful for the sheer joy of  just being outside, the air didn’t hurt my skin like it seemed to in the  ever so efficient climate controlled offices  where I often spent my Mondays. There was no honking of horns here in the country, no mad rush up to the lunch hour. It was simply sweet bird song and the rustle of a morning breeze in the Magnolias near the tables by which we were seated. My dreams of mental escape seemed instantly destroyed when my compatriots all picked up their cell phones with which  to begin their exchanges, receiving the guidance and data that would begin our day. I just stared at my coffee. No manila envelopes full of papers handed out this time round, no making of notes or in my case, no sheets of white paper upon which to doodle Lilly pads, frogs and shooting stars. Yet the loss of the simple folders was barely noted by the rest . There would be nothing to hold, no paper to rustle as decisions were made and ideas collaborated upon.  I found this sacrilege distasteful at best. The cicadas started their song to herald in the heat of the day as I  simply excused myself from the table, took a last gulp of coffee, and dropped my phone in my purse as I rose to depart. Oh yes, I could sense the amazement felt by some at the sheer fact that I had done such a thing. Surely if I was going to the ladies room I could continue from there via text, never missing a beat in what they all felt was to be an exciting interaction, me not so much.

I wandered away from the place that had once been a peaceful veranda, where farmers and traders had ensconced themselves over an early morning repast, speaking of weather and tides, fast horses and strong mules. Today it was a world I cared not to recognize, inhabited by those who would never notice or even acknowledge the pair of Towhees busily foraging beneath the fragrant gardenias next to the rail. Yet they were very comfortable texting with the girl on the other end of the phone complaining about the trials of   her commute into LA. I think I was at that point done. I wondered  away down the hall of the historic old Inn where they’d housed us, the worn boards of the  floor visible, yet the with the voices of  old  sealed forever in  a heavy gloss of plastic and wax, not creak nor a breath, just frozen in time. By the time I made the back door and headed down the path away from them all the vibration of the phone in my purse was simply as much of an after thought as the deerfly buzzing around my head. A blood sucking thing, which needed to be swatted and banished into the eons of eternity.

The black and grey low country dirt beneath my feet looked cool and inviting. I made a brief stop to dislodge my tennis shoes allowing myself to feel it’s cool reassurance under my bare feet and between my toes. Rich dark soil from the inlands and sandy patches from the coast, soft yet gritty. I became a little more alive at this point. My path was a sweet one with giant ancient oaks on either side whose branches reached upwards towards the glorious life giving sun, each out reaching limb adorned with heavy swaths of Spanish moss. These magnificent ancient sentinels gave my escape route a cheering audience of birds and tossing leaves encouraging me on as I ambled. In the distance I heard the leader of our little pack on the verandah utter a few choice swear words and then I was too far gone to hear nor care.  Cropland in full summer growth spread out around me on past the oaks who had become my guardians as I continued my flight. I came upon a moss laden water trough, one of the old stone and cement kind, full of crisp clear water with the mud at its base churned up by many years of stock coming for refreshment from an oppressive summer’s heat. You could see the hoof prints from the most recent visitors and if you were one who knew this place, had it beaten into your soul with everyday living, you would know who had come by the simple shape of the print.  The base of the stones was surrounded by thick fragrant mint which melded with the scent of the sea in the heavy coastal air and the odors of verdant growing crops giving each breath I took a cleansing effect. I felt my senses become sharper and the long lost electronics drowned reality of simply being, living in the moment, actually feeling part and parcel of what counted becoming stronger and more clear.

As this occurred I stared into the waters of history there at the trough, that watering hole of old, no creatures  around to take on replenishment at this moment, they were all back off across the  pasture in the woods where they would sleep out the mornings heat in hopes of a cooling early noon thunder shower . I knew this to be fact and I knew it more than I knew the lady who had slipped off her shoes to go through check in for her flight to this place the night before. The lady who moved through a life dictated by clocks and commerce, a life that was a vague reality to her core, yet did so because it was what was to be done.  But the ghosts of history often screamed at her in the darkness of night, in those hours when one’s sleep is the deepest and the mind is allowed to drift  down the immortal path ways that  our world has so often forgotten. A dragon fly circled the waters finally landing on one of the delicate branches of mint, its iridescent green the most vibrant of colors, shiny and slick. The voices were strong here on the edge of the meadow. “The muscadine wine is next to the sweet butter in the spring house, but watch out for the bees in arbor as you go ”. Yet the spring house had long fallen to rubble , this was a mere whisper from the past echoing through the voices of history. Then the one thing I knew, more than the fact that my steadily buzzing phone needed me to state my stance on this or that, was that these voices needed to heard, that they counted and their songs were true and their history was a sweet prism of million different lights.

Off towards the coast storm clouds were building and lightning cracked across the sky. Yes the storm was coming, but not until this singer sang her song. I reached my hand into the soft leather of my rather expensive purse. The type with someone’s initials on it, someone I had never met but felt it of grave importance to have their initials upon my purse . I caressed the cool slick case of my cell phone, it enticed my fingers to slide across the glass and check the world inside it. Yet the caw of a large black crow out across the corn field announcing the arrival of a hunting hawk warned me off. I simply grasped it, pulled it from its resting place and dropped it gently into the waters of the trough. Let the nymphs and sprites have at it, possibly the iridescent dragon fly could deal with the frustrated lady in LA. I watched the bubbles as it sank, the brilliant colors of screen become confused and that strange electronic world fade into black.

Sunday

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It was one of the last of the days of the shortening light. A grey misty December afternoon where the light was fading all too soon and the blustery winds of winter swept in across the valley. A lone Hawk perched high in the naked limbs of a weather stripped tree calls out to his kindred across the expanse of openness that is the fields. Fields that will glow emerald when the sun returns to the land and the hours of light overflow the hours of dark. For now I am content to sit on the back of my winter coated horse and watch the meanderings of the foraging birds. Allowing the last of the darkening days to feed my soul, to allow me to gain peace, for one must embrace the darkness to savor the light.   A scent of wood smoke from a distant hearth drifts on the breeze, in my mind’s eye I can visualize the glowing embers and the warmth of a family gathered round. A peace that is the cawing of the crow, the rustling of the birds and whisper of winds through the pines provides solace to my ever turbulent thoughts. This could be a vision from a medieval time hundreds of years ago, or the view from the first farmers of these gentle fields, but today it was simply those of a woman escaping the hectic pace of her century. This is my time, my space. Wicked, wild and untamable. Nature’s realm.  Here I draw my strength. An immortal reckoning that has sustained those of my kindred for more than a millennia, longer than time has been tracked by the fastidious records of man.

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The raw power of the beast between my legs gives me wings to fly. An animal so strong he could kill me without a second thought. Yet a creature of the wilds as well, who chooses to be my accomplice as opposed to my opponent. For it seems, when we choose run the grasslands and hillsides, our beings feed on each other’s joy and reckless abandon. We tempt the fates over the fences that block our paths and hinder our flight. We dance through the mists all powerful and in an ecstasy of unity that few can comprehend. I am his sustenance and he is my light. Woman and equine, the rawness of the life giver who must abandon fear of pain to do her duty and the nobility of the steed that carries her so gallantly in a unity of power and mind. Yes tomorrow the world awaits. But the time is now to savor that from which I will draw my solace when the days in the pulsating chaos of the city become tenuous. When the noise of the dissatisfied masses reaches a crescendo, I will allow myself to detach and revisit that oxer that seemed so incredibly high, yet my companion and I cleared  with such ease. Take my mind to that moment midflight when we both cared not if we if landed at all, the freedom of being untied to earth an elixir we drank uncaring if it destroyed us in the end. Such experiences allow one to defy fear and silence the sounds of things we care not to have visited upon on our being. The ability to simply leap and fly to the other side of the miasma and move on.

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Oh yes, in few hours I’ll be back in my car in the endless blood red river of taillights that takes me in to the city. I’ll turn on my computer and see the ruminations of my likeminded sisters all over this great land who’ve done the same as myself. Photos of rocky ravines negotiated, snowy fields raced across and mountain vistas viewed. Fences that were too high, yet sailed anyway. Streams too flood swollen, but swum anyway. Speeds far too fast, yet galloped anyway. Horses still green to the rider, ridden anyway. Oh yes, the glove snug jeans will be shed, boots will be left in the entry way, and tomorrows business outfit of choice will be assembled. But when morning breaks and  we amble out the door into the world of commerce, I’m quite certain we will all give a wistful gaze to the crumpled jeans and the barn muddied boots. This weekend in the pastures was sweet fiery mead to our wild essence, but Monday morning will be strong black coffee to our fiery spirits. So we will jump the worlds fences far too high, swim the world’s streams far too swollen and run through the week way too fast. But come dawn Saturday that Hawk is going to call, those winds are going to whip and I like many are going to once again eschew the cement world and ride the open expanse that is the breath to our once again pounding heart.

 

The Machinations of Men

I never understood the machinations of men. The mountains to be climbed, the conquests to be made, nor the empires to be cherished. As a woman of many passages I have seen empires rise and fled the bloodshed, smoke and fires as they fell. There will be no wounds to be healed by mystical skills in this present. No herb infused fires to burn upon the crackling hearth and no gentle rubs of healing oils to remove the pain of loss this time around. I myself am a soul of many victories and equal defeats. A walker of times and viewer of worlds. Yet in the great unwinding I am woman complete. Let it not be said that I miss my kindred. Oh how I long for the gentle evenings with fragrant candles, the multicolored rippling’s of brilliant fish as they dart about the waters surrounding our candlelit terrace. The stories of the ancient houses whose fame includes the provenance of a certain honey that adorns our bread or textures of the water like flowing silk of a soft shift or trouser. Why I walk this world is still the most subtle mystery to me. Birth to life, life to death.

Love, I assume, is the passion that endures a million lifetimes. Something ones soul follows from the cracking reverberation of a sinking Atlantis, through the burning salt of the sea waters in which we held each other as the waves roiled about us when a continent sank forever in to the history of mankind on this swirling blue orb . To our newfound home of Ern, the emerald isles where a brilliant mind guided a magical and noble leader to place his foot upon a Kingstone which cried out with the magic so accessible at that time and assumed the leadership of a mysterious land. Arthur we salute you. You were a golden leader in a turbulent time. I can still taste my lovers kiss as I sailed off for Avelon, I can feel the waters around my ankles as I boarded the boat from the mists and I can see his stalwart gaze and the sparkle in his eyes as we knew what must be. My spirit was his spirit, news from Arthur’s realm showed my loves hand as easily as the handiwork of the Creator across the nighttime sky. We went out gallantly, he and I, swords drawn and magic lit the night. We fell together. May the legacy be blessed for Arthur was a noble man. Birth to life, Life to death.

Rome, she was a magnificent place. Those nights on the roof top gardens where there was no mankind, no earthly world and no Creator. Just you and I locked in the dance of love uninhibited , a million stars in skies, the sweet smell of beeswax candles, the musky scent of your pure maleness, and the coarseness of your unshaven cheek on mine as we gripped each other with a passion that had been proven for eternity. I think those nights were the sealing of our fate together. A coupling proposed on far away stars that united itself once again in the realm of magic. The spinner of history, the creator of destinies viewed us together once again and saw that it was good. So with the magic of our history my love once again guided a nation and in this sweet, sweet time I had nothing to do but love fiercely. And there we bode together breathless and one, glorious nighttime unification in each others arms. Birth to life, life to death.

The years between become as dense this night as the mists to Avelon. I could go there and in time I may, but man’s inhumanity to man is a perilous path to take. Tonight I reside in a different realm. I never understood the machinations of men. The mountains to be climbed, the conquests to be made, the empires to be cherished. But I will give you this. I saw the serpents at the gate. As I tossed in my slumber between darkness and dawn I choose to battle. Yes, we held them back. The girls of old, Morgaine, Myself, and the ancient of healers met them, in the end we had had to invoke the name of the Creator. The battle was ugly, brutal and for the first time in many passages on this beautiful blue planet I fought without you by my side. Yet in those pre-dawn hours we brought magic back to this world.

Love I assume, is the passion that endures of a million lifetimes. Just remember as the moon waxed full and the months of darkness fell upon this world magic returned and it is a sacred gift. So if I don’t hold you in this time, know the battle is yours and victory inevitable. Be it your choice darkness or light. Birth to life, life to death.

For now this country girl is going to enjoy the rising sun, the returning fowl, and the changing of days. My sword is for now sheathed, my cauldron cold, and for those on the blue orb, you have one more chance.

The Cider Press

The final day of September and the cider press has arrived. It showed up in all its glory packed in Styrofoam peanuts and bestowed upon me by the brown uniformed UPS man. Needless to say my world is all abuzz with excitement. Great plans for this fine item. Of course I do have to note that we are short apples, to be exact we have only three. Now the fact that no one’s been home in the past few weeks to add such necessities to the cupboards might account for this dilemma. Of course I think my significant other’s purchase of this item had been prompted by visions of a late afternoon drive, top down, up to the orchard with the goal of obtaining locally grown crisp red apples. While the image of shifting up through the gears and putting a well-crafted Italian engine through its paces on an early fall afternoon may have been enticing .The fact that the needed several bushels of apples would in no way fit in the fine automobile seemed to have eluded his grasp. But I’m not going to judge at this point. I am simply going acknowledge that we are now the proud owners of a cider press.

My best friend and purveyor of all things southern, New Yorker Edna Greenburg joined me on my patio to await the arrival of, as we were now calling them “The menfolk”. I had strategically placed the box containing our exciting new item” the cider press” on the long table in the hallway where it would be a joy to great my beloveds’ eyes as he returned from a hard week of annoying people in boardrooms all across this great land. Edna had switched from a summer of White Linen perfume to her fall fragrance of choice, Marlboro Light and Private Collection. Now to be honest, I was sure that Estee Lauder had stopped making it ,but my husband had alluded to the fact that he found it somewhere and had Saul, Edna’s other half, stockpile it in a warehouse or something. That being said the Marlboros were from the 7-11 and they had plenty. But Edna was a longstanding Friday cocktail guest at our little week’s ending revelries and we loved both her and Saul dearly. Not to mention, who was to aid in the assembly of our fancy new cider press? Both Edna and I were fairly certain it would end as had the deep fried turkey of 2014. We went out of town Thanksgiving 2015 and thank goodness because there were rumblings of another fried Turkey event. All I can say about the last one is that the new deck on the Mountain house is very nice. And who can forget the GD Christmas lights? Since pre lit was out and it had to be a fresh evergreen, plus we were not about to be so frivolous as to buy new ones every year.Oh well, I’ll never know how they braided themselves into such a tangle and of course ours had the magic one light to magically expire  which took out the whole lot of them once he had them perfectly aligned. GD Christmas lights!   But tonight in the three apple house was  the assembly of our very own cider press and the acknowledgment that wifey hubby time roaring through the foothills,top down,  would be in the backseat of Saul’s SUV to pick up apples.. Both Edna and I cracked open a beer.

Amazing how the whole house vibrates when the garage door opens or is it the fine Italian engine which is supposed to purr like a kitten? Anyhow the first of the menfolk had arrived, the owner of the cider press and the one I laid claim too. Being a early fall afternoon the windows were open allowing the breeze off the mountains to blow in through out the house and sounds to carry. I heard the jingle as keys hit the slate entryway floor and I knew my lover had dropped them as he spied his latest acquisition. Edna and I looked at one another as the sound of tearing into the box emanated through the house. I turned up my beer. What no kiss hello after a week apart? Ah, the sound of metal parts hitting the table. Footsteps down the hall and my dreamboat appeared waving a paper. First a quick kiss, no passionate embrace, but I must see this. Instructions. Assembly required. Oh dear visions or flaming turkeys and arching Christmas lights flashed before my eyes. Luckily the cider press required neither electricity nor extreme heat and boiling oil. Edna and I both heard the heavy tires on the gravel road as Saul, Seer Sucker Saul as my husband called him, due to the fact that he wore nothing but during the summer beach months, pulled his Ranger Rover onto the drive. Now he would be in khaki slacks and any of a number of shirts adorned with their favorite college football teams logos. Schools neither had attended, but both were totally enamored with to the tune of thousands in Athletic fund donations. My precious one smiled to himself as I noted his realization that there were only three parts of “the cider press dreams were made of” to attach together before pressing could occur. Which would not take a hot second with three pithy apples. Oh but wait a minute, I heard the back hatch of Saul’s SUV opening. Dearest sweetheart looked up from his “Cider Press Assembly Instructions” stared straight ahead, and the only way I can describe it is how one looks when one clicks on an interesting Facebook post. Blank at first, then a sparkling recognition and finally understanding flashed across his face as it always did when a plan came together. Saul had brought the apples. Edna across the table simply admired her new nail color, slick and glossy in favorite team colors. I simply shook my head, they must have coordinated it from the air. My ever astounding life’s partner tracking the shipment on his IPhone, and  I hoped he had made dinner reservations too for the larder was bare.

 

Now there is nothing like an early fall afternoon in the Carolina Mountains. Everything seems to be holding its breath waiting on the heat to break and first nip of cool to roll in over the forests. This time of year is also a feeding frenzy for all creatures great and small, the last chance to put on needed weight before the scarcity of winter. I could smell Saul’s cigar floating on the breeze as the master of the Cider Press instructions trotted off to meet him. The excitement was too much. It was also possibly sheer joy over the fine aged Kentucky bourbon they planned to mix with said Cider, but the excitement of presenting the concoction to fellow rabid football fans at tomorrow’s game was palpable. So much for Stan Hicks succulent slow roasted barbeque which was a mainstay and a long held tailgate tradition. I would say since boyhood college days, but since neither Saul nor my love attended during those days, I just have to guess they met through some fundraising function and bonded over their mutual passion for the team. In any case we’d been tailgating with Stan for as long as I had been attached to the man of my dreams and that man challenged the fame of Stan’s barbeque every chance he got. As for barbequing a pig himself, let’s just say we had been down that path and the new garage is very nice and even bigger than the old one. But for this game it is going to be fresh pressed cider and a very fine aged Kentucky bourbon. Edna and I cracked open another brew.

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In the activities of all things female vs the activities of all things male. We discussed our ensembles for tomorrow’s game and festivities. Yes we had brought sweaters, but if it was going to be as hot as it was today, so we probably would wear sundresses, team colors of course. The heat of this Friday afternoon was palpable and somehow being too heavily dressed and imbibing Bourbon Cider cocktails did not seem to have a promising outcome for even making it to halftime conscious tomorrow. I watched several Yellow Jackets and assorted other insects feast on the last remnants of nectar in the flowers around the patio, semi oblivious to the hurry of activity as my soulmate and his accomplice brought one now fully assembled Cider press, apples and large jugs to collect the sweet juice to the corner of the patio so Edna and myself could bear witness to this noble feat. In his glee to pursue the art of cider making, darling hubby still had on his basic oxford cloth shirt although untucked from the shorts he had managed time to slip into, sleeves rolled up, a man on a mission. Saul on the other hand simply wore his well tucked polo and long khakis. Edna and I watched the process, absorbing the warmth of the day in that peaceful haze one gets when all seems right with world and those you love the most are with you. The freshly washed apples went into the press, the manual gears  turned by the man I had given my hand in marriage, a joyful boyish glee in his eyes as the sticky sweet apple scented juice flowed into the large jugs purchased for just  this sacred occasion. Saul stood back, cigar in his mouth and watched the apples being pressed into cider, remnants tossed aside onto the lawn. Rather organic to return them to nature I thought. A gentle breeze blew over us fragrant with apples as my husband attended diligently to his task.

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At first it was about five, drawn from the surrounding woodlands by the scent of sweet apple cider. But a clarion call must have gone out across the valley for they came from all points on the compass and they came quickly. Yellow Jackets, those voracious southern bees that bite and sting. They came by the hundreds and soon they were busily hovering swarming and landing on all things apple cider and more. The top of my beer, Edna’s ash tray, the remnants of pressed apples, and the jugs of juice. They simply dove into the tops of the jugs and floated to what must have been a death in pure apple ecstasy. Saul was blowing smoke at them, which seemed to only heighten their intensity to feast. My beloved? He was a man demon possessed, swatting, and stomping trying to knock them away. My protective instincts must have been nonexistent as I opted for self-preservation and retreated behind the screen door to the interior of our happy home. Outside my heroic knight in shinning armor was on the defense, trying to seal his open jugs and move his now Yellow Jacket covered Cider Press. Oh I could hear his many well executed obscenities as highly irritated Yellow Jackets flew up his shorts taking bites of delicate nether regions and stinging his hands when he slapped them. But always a trooper he grabbed the jugs and with hungry yellow jacket hoards in hot pursuit made haste for the garage. Saul had the forethought, Cigar still dangling from his lips to hose off the cider press before carrying it to  perceived safety . The last Yellow Jacket covered Bushel of apples would have to wait. I heard the front door open, a multitude of choice curse words targeted at the worlds entire population of bees, car keys being grabbed and the door slammed shut. Edna pulled two more beers from the refrigerator handed me one and a Marlboro light. As I flicked the lighter I heard the sound of fine Italian engineering firing up, a car door slam shut and the garage door being lowered. The gassing of the bees had begun. It would be awhile before we knew the outcome of my dear ones revenge upon the voracious Yellow Jackets of the South,but hopefully the cider would be safe.

So this fine Carolina evening my heart of hearts began what would become a passionate romance with Benadryl and Cortisol 10. Tomorrow he would itch beyond his wildest imagination, as for the cider and bourbon? Well he has cracked open one bottle of Bourbon , my suggestion he bathe in it was not accepted in manner it was delivered, but we had overcome moments like this before.He and Saul retreated to his office. I looked at the all knowing eyes of Edna who had ridden the waves of many a turbulent “Really Great Idea” with me, they were sparkling in with some mischievous humor. She extended a well-manicured hand with next week’s football tickets, Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets. Well let’s just be thankful for small favors it was not this week’s opponent because we had already lost. So this last Friday of September Edna and I toasted each other and froze as our eyes locked on  the man with which I planned to spend eternity’s misplaced cellphone as the screen lit up. An order had been placed, look out world boiled peanuts are coming!

The Art

Fall has arrived in my Carolina foothills. Of course this is what they tell me as I stare down a succulent piece of crispy fried chicken while listening to my friends discuss Football. College football of course, one of the deeply held traditions in this part of the world I call home. Now inasmuch as I would like to think we were gathered around comfortably in our tweed jackets, well-worn jeans and soft leather boots, all this conjuring a picture of a colorful wood Smokey Fall afternoon. One must remember that this is the South and such visions are not to be, or least not to be for several more weeks. The heat is still on, and although the nights are cooler or seem so because the water in the pool is rather chilling to a late season swimmer. We are still in cut offs, T-shirts and the ever present flip flops. Yes, although long nights of barbequing a pig to crispy perfection are on everyone’s mind, the fact remains that it is hot and that’s a festivity to be enjoyed on the chillier afternoons. I guess for now we are simply satisfied a month has arrived with an “R” in the name allowing us the freedom to roast oysters and gather round the shucking table without guilt. Now I understand that in today’s world with commercial farms of everything edible this rule does not stand, but some of the best joys in life are the ceremony to which an event takes place. So if an oyster roast is to happen in my neck of the woods, rest assured that the oysters have been freshly picked out of the Carolina tidal waters, so thus we must have the “R”. No Risk. That is just how it’s done. Our feast of oysters is usually picked by whichever pair of golfing buddies plays a course in the low country and knows darn well they better bring back a few bushels as justification for such an outing. It’s simply tradition and we hold it close. As a matter of fact we hold a lot of things close, Traditions, Wives Tales, and Celebrations in general. Some may think foolishness, but myself, I consider it the art of life.

Life in this time has become mechanical, electronic, digital and fast. This I considered today as I burned a leech off my foot after an impromptu horseback swim in the pond below the stables. Yes, sometimes the horse likes a roll in the cooling water and when one slides off, well, leeches. Nothing a cigarette lighter won’t solve and Mister Leech curls up and releases. Not sophisticated, faux intellectual or worldly enough for you? How about passionate? Because as with all art, and that of living being one, passion is the key. These are my Carolina foothills and this is my life. It ebbs and flows without predictability. No I won’t be sauntering to the market for my raw honey, but I’ll be whipping it into Old Jim’s driveway. He’s been a beekeeper for nigh on 50 years and his clover honey is the best. As tradition lays out, the fall months are the best times to get honey, so I do. Yes, my compatriots will discuss College football and of course I will follow along decked in the colors of my Alma Mater. But it goes so much deeper than that. Long held traditions that are constants in the life I’ve been raised with and continue to carry on. I know the two old veterans that have the best boiled peanuts in the land will be parked on the highway to the Blue Ridge in the fall and the apple harvest is coming in. So all this heartfelt  thought from a run in with a leech you think? The answer is simply yes. I must say, we have learned to imbue our traditions with the cadence of nature. I know soon my pasture ponds will be cold, my summer swims will be a memory, and yes the leech will have been bothersome. Yes rest assured laughing about him on the cold winter days will bring memories of a hot summer sun, golden horses sparkling in emerald fields and wide open gallops as storms build in the distance on a summers evening.

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So it is the art of living that I embrace here on this hot September day. I cannot pull back from the passion and the life I live, these are my Carolina foothills, and this is the life I know. As the cold months roll in across our verdant lands, we shall do our best to hold on to it all. And as my people before me we shall embrace the memories, uphold the traditions, weather the storms and pass the torch on to our progeny so no matter where this wild life takes them they will always know the lands and the people that are their home.

The Shore

 

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I loved to sit on the porch of the old beach house, watching the moonlight reflect off the slick gray, weather worn boards . From my vantage point I could look out upon the waves crashing onto the beach, smell the sweet sea air and embrace the night. It was the last of the summer season, a season like so many before that this old home had seen pass by into the remembered years of history. Laughter and joy, old romance and new love right here beneath its ancient eaves. The old wood floor was satiny and well used, it had remained unpainted possibly since the first coat had been worn away by salt air and damp sea winds. I loved how it always felt slick and cool to my bare feet. A veneer given  by the passing of time, the tread of many bare feet before me, sandy and fresh from the beach below. Tonight was one of those close August nights, humidity thick upon the landscape holding the essences of the wave danced ocean air from in front and the rich pungent odor of plough mud from the tidal marshes behind. Oh the last kiss of sweet summer before the fall season, it was incredible and it was mournful all at one time.

I watched the lightning strike far out on the open water, took a sip from my lime laden Gin & Tonic, the southern ladies drink of choice for the summer months and sighed. I was glad we had come. The forecast had been ominous, yet rainy days on the shore held a certain magic to me, the heavy mist and ever changing ocean vista was cleansing in a very spiritual way. We were coming and then we weren’t, this had been the conversation all through the proceeding days. Yet my husband had struck his final punch at the world in general for the week, shaken his head, then decided we needed this place and this time.

I felt the infusion of alcohol and sea air take its heady effect on me. So many had graced this porch before this storm rocked evening. Hopes, dreams, plans of fortune and plans of failure had been hatched upon this time varnished wooden porch overlooking the Atlantic. I cannot say we were any different in or electronic age than any  who surveyed this coastal landscape long before us. Those who had sent ships and riders out with dictates delicately inked upon parchment, sealed with wax and stamped with seals instead of emails and never ending texts. We just moved so much faster now, yet that was why we were here, to slow it down a bit before time moved fast  and blazed white hot into the busy fall. I could hear the thunder roll  somewhere beyond the horizon. The sounds of muted conversation and tinkling glasses drifted from the main room of the house out to my porch. So this was peace or some form of it anyhow.

 

I let the wind and wild take my mind for a bit and pondered those who wandered this sugar white beach before me. The women who had stared out at this grey blue expanse of ocean and waited. Waited for lovers to return from far off travels, from despotic bloody battles and sometimes from simple disgrace. I heard the door behind me open and the scent of heavily applied Shalimar wafted through the air. Oh yes, even on short notice the guests had come. Almost by rote the email had been dispatched, as it was every trip we made to the shore. This time being no different, albeit short notice. Light repast and cocktails. It was what it was and truth be told these were our friends. The Shalimar trail was omitted by Edna Greenberg, a New Yorker who had long since fled the city and made it her mission in life to embrace everything southern.

We were her family now since the immediate relatives kept kosher and had long since decided The Hamptons to be the seaside venue of choice. I will be the first to say that Edna’s sausage biscuits dripping in thick sawmill gravy were quite possibly the best in the world. I guess the thought of her pork tainted kitchen had long ago cut her off from the chosen people. Edna said nothing and quietly opened her latest in designer cigarette cases to procure a Marlboro. The multitude of cigarette cases she owned confused my husband. He had once stated , staring at me out over his fancy leather encased cell phone while unstopping his favorite Crystal brandy decanter as we clipped along in the plane at a 3 thousand feet. He did not understand “People who bought equipment for their vices like Edna and her cases”. “No clue babe” was the best answer I could give. We were enroot to an auction seeking hand blown venetian glass Romanov Dynasty swizzle sticks or something like that and there was no point discussing it anyway. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a remarkable man and one hell of a lover, but sometimes the limbs of his mind just reach too far out for me to dare to climb. I watched Edna take a long drag off her Marlboro. The poor lady must have been dying making small talk in the big room while lusting for a long drag off a Marlboro on the porch. Something about good booze, excellent food and the beach just calls for a cigarette and although I knew my devoted other half would smell it on me later I plucked one  for myself out of the fancifully designer initialed case on the table. Stiff Gin and Tonics, a storm tossed ocean and a Marlboro, quite the way to send off the Summer I must say. I raised a toast to Edna who was firing up cigarette number two and she quickly met me in my salute.

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“Where to now Sweet Jesus?” I said. I think it was line in a song, not sure which one but Edna got my drift. She threw back her head with the deeply dyed red bobbed cut that  naturally fell back into place with every toss and laughed. “Not much in there” she looked towards the big room where we always entertained these evenings on the ocean. “Real Estate” Oh good I thought as I texted my husband who probably had the glazed look in his eyes he gets when someone discusses stationary fixed items that cannot be duplicated and sold in mass. “Sweetie, are you doing what I think?” the truly Southern New Yorker Edna   asked. I smiled up at her. Why yes I was, I was texting the hubby to bring us a drink. I knew he would glance at the message, ignore it for about two minutes and then decide to extract himself from the conversation and mix the drinks. “Let’s just say I’m saving him and getting us both refills in the bargain” I told Edna. She laughed as she grasped both sides of her slick turquoise silk skirt, gave a great tug and adjusted what must be some pretty unforgiving Spanx. She actually looked terrific in her matching turquoise silk caftan top and white beaded earrings, New York black long since forgotten in her Begonia raising, country bake off, Southern world. “Seer Sucker Sal”, her husband, a nickname my heart of hearts had given him years ago was a titan in the poultry industry and indulged her every whim. This lead them to become the proud owners of a sprawling southern manse and two standard Poodles, Bobbles and Poot. He was truly the hubby’s ally when it came to all deals coastal, a cigar smoking bear of a man who bore allegiance to the same college football team as my dearest and had also never attended its hallowed halls. Edna was like myself, no children, just a multitude of hobbies and like myself, one destined to be alone in her diminishing years. So we simply grabbed life by the horns and drank it in while it was good.

The drinks arrived, my gallant knight butt closing the porch door behind him since both hands carried what were probably Gin heavy cocktails. He handed Edna hers and placed mine on the table with an obvious glance at the ash tray, yes two different colors of lipstick on those butts. The door behind our winsome trio opened and closed again behind the towering figure of Saul who now joined us upon the porch. We watched the squall line move in towards the beach proper as the whitecaps increased upon the ever maddening Atlantic. The guests in the big room,two real estate salesman who talked of nothing but golf , their wives who talked of nothing but grandchildren, a boat dealer from up the coast with his just past teenage girlfriend, and the local magistrate who came simply to drink.  All but forgotten as we watched the storm.

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My husband reached across the long patio table, unlatched the well camouflaged humidor, obtained two fine Cubans, handed one to Saul, clipped the tip of his own, looked out upon the shoreline and said “Where to now sweet Jesus?” to no one in particular. So thus we began our Labor Day weekend, the last glorious celebration before Summer ends and Fall begins. Flip flops, swimsuits and hot sandy beaches will give way to school colors, logos and packed football stadiums. Fancy iced drinks and Shrimp cocktails will give way to barbeque and beer. The sweet song of Summer will just be another breath of a memory stored away for the times when we await our final call. Edna met my eyes across the table. We had a pact, if God so willed it we would do our best to see one or the other off this planet when the time came.So one or the other was never alone. But for now we were going to intoxicate ourselves with love, life, laughter and also a good bit of booze mixed with a few cigarettes. My savvy mate must have caught our exchange for he reached into his pocket and extracted a smaller bottle of gin, topped off our drinks and raised a toast. “ I don’t know where to now, but I bet we got this” So welcome Labor Day 2016,  winds and rain and storms of life , I do believe he’s right. In fact I’m betting on it.

Bad Things

bad1  I guess when it’s all said and done, truth be told, I like bad things. It dawned on me this morning as I stood in line at the local 7-11 with my breakfast of choice, two Slim Jims and a diet coke. Nothing better in my book than the oily texture of a Slim Jim mingling with that peppery saltiness and then washing down each bite with the crisp carbonated tingle of an ice cold diet Coke. Oh and it’s got to be a Coke, no Pepsi or anything like that. I guess I knew I was totally evil when the girl in front of me grimaced at my choices. She was one of those earth friendly ones, Birkenstock sandals, a bottle of Norwegian spring water gripped tightly in one hand, an apple and granola bar in the other, smelling lightly of patchouli. Now I try not to judge, but if daggers could be shot from someone’s eyes I would surly have bled to death right there on gray industrial tile floor  much to the horror of what looked to be the entire Patel family working behind the counter.

bad4  Now Birkenstock girl was one of those with the fade washed organic clothing, tangled curls (rather unkempt) unknown label fabric purse still bearing a  huge BERNIE badge from some now past history rally. (Wonder how she likes his 600 K beach house?) She was pale, obviously a cave dweller and a lover of sunscreen, because  that horrendous global warming was going to fry us all. She gave my Slim Jims an apprising look of utter disgust. Now me, I was born and raised down here in the South, I like big hair, flashy earrings, I am no stranger to the Estee Lauder counter at Belk and it shows. So my Tumultuous Pink Lipstick (freshly applied) and Love Bites nail color (fingers and toes) was blazing brilliantly beneath the fluorescent lighting of 7-11. I had also possibly over sprayed myself this morning with White Linen perfume. All this makes me think she considered that I moved in cloud which was pure and total biohazard. Plus, there was sunscreen factor. I’m guessing it was pretty obvious I abhorred that, since I had spent previous afternoon at the pool slathered in Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil and was that dark golden color one who “Pools It” a lot gets late in the season. So yeah I’m bad.

bad7  I could see her mind working as she quickly made a judgement of my immortal soul, that it would surely burn in hell (if she believed in such) or at least never approach Nirvana. I held up my fancy repast, and said “Gotta tide myself over until Smashburger opens” as cheerily as I could. A look of true horror  passed across her face “I wouldn’t know, I’m a vegan” She replied. Of course I knew that and probably a gluten free, organic free range vegan too. The BERNIE badge flashed in the light. But so did the little pentagram she wore around her neck. Ah, I smiled to myself, presumably a Wiccan to boot. I mean anything to show one she was totally against the Status Quo. What she failed to guess was that the flashy blonde in Tumultuous Pink lipstick smelling of White Linen had just returned from the Carolina bottom land, where she had acknowledged the tree Dryads, said hello to the Water sprites, and even given the Gnome under the water oak a wink.

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I must have made her nervous, myself so obviously a Trump supporter and a flaming ambassador to all things Capitalism. So she opened her oversize bottle of water (probably bottled just outside Waycross,Georgia from a spigot someone named “Norwegian”, you know  advertising and all that) and took a drink before turning to set it uncapped upon the counter. The youngest Patel looked a tad nervous at this, what if she did not have the money? Would they suffer the loss of an entire bottle of water? What were the ramifications? In my mind’s eye I could see my Dryad friends dancing from leaf to leaf and the water sprites splashing amongst the river rocks.

The odor of patchouli drifted towards me as she had noticed the arrival in line of three Hispanic fellows and threw them a welcoming nod, flipping dull, tangled curls over her shoulder. Oppressed, downtrodden immigrants. I could see as much compassion on her face for them as there was disdain for me. The BERNIE badge glinted again in the lights. I turned to meet the eyes of Juan, Pedro and their brother who’s name I did not recall. They were hot and sweaty after a long morning in the heat and I could see her very liberal vegan gluten free organic heart breaking at that sight. Now me, I like bad things. So I asked the three amigos “How did it go this morning?” Juan shook his head and said “Not as good as last time, but we all played under par, the course was rough, anyhow we’re headed up the lake, going to take the boat out” The BERNIE badge flashed in the light. She looked stricken, like the deer in headlights of a logging truck I had seen down on 521.bad2    Now I like bad things. I truly do. My guess was my friends the Water Sprites did as well.. I’m also inclined to do this from time to time, stay in practice and all that. As if by magic, (IT WAS) the still uncapped bottle of Norwegian spring water fell onto its side gushing water out onto the counter in front of Immigrants (Golfing Pediatricians), Trump supporter /Probably fundamentalist right wing Christian (Me , an adept at all things mystical with a penchant for freedom) and the anguished face of the youngest Patel (Who was ready to go back to school and rejoin his soccer team, but was helping Daddy to pay off his Beemer).  A deafening silence, no apology a simple swipe of her card and she fled. I watched her drive away in her Prius with New York plates BERNIE sticker fading out of sight. Magic, it’s not a bad thing.

Larkspur -Prelude to a dance

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Sunday mornings are the best time for reflection. The world seems gentler, almost passive as we take solace in the gentle dawn hours and catch our breath for the week ahead. I guess the ghosts of my history are calling to me at this point. Wanting to be heard, to have their stories saved. Maybe they have a valid justification for that, because such history seems so very sweet as I look back this soft Sunday morning. Maybe my fear is that I will not do them justice, the sagas of the lives we lived not all that long ago. But as I’ve told myself through the years, if not you? Who? So I shall refill my coffee, let my mind roam free through the rolling fields of times past and prepare to save the spirits of the life we lived long gone, but which never should be forgotten. Taking the good with the bad, excoriating my soul and weaving tales of a time that so many hold so very dear.

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Horse traders and car dealers it was simple as that. Or was that simple at all? I remember coffee was on the sun porch every morning at 7am, good, strong ,hot coffee, made in a percolator, an item I’m sure has long since been forgotten. The sun porch looked out over the upper pastures as they rolled down to the creek, the landscape always changing colors and appearances with the seasons. We discussed the weather, the horses, and who did what when. It was South Carolina in the early 90s, situated close to the North Carolina line and the rapidly growing city of Charlotte. I was young then, as I look back on it all today. Half of me wanted the city life with the bright lights and fast pace. The other half wanted what was simply written into my DNA. A love for farms, fields and horses glistening in the sun. The latter overcame the former in the years to follow and I survived that dissection of my soul. Or as I was told one sweltering July day as I slaked my thirst with a long draught of well water from the hose at the end of the barn, “You’ve done drunk the water now this will always be home” .

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I traveled a lot of miles from that day to this. In my darkest times I found succor in the memories I built on that big patch of red Carolina earth that holds swamps, ponds, dark forests and wide open pastures. The people, the horses, the journeys and the history need not lie fallow awaiting a wordsmiths till. For we lived, we laughed, we rode and we cried. So to all that lived that history with me then and still do today for that Carolina ranch still stands. I will try and do man, earth, and beast justice for we all made these stories together. A myriad of intertwining moments. My only hope is that sometime off far in the  future, be it our progeny or simply a seeker’s curious soul, one can look back and say, “ That’s what it was like then” and see that it was good.

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This Sunday Carolina morning I’ll finish my coffee as we always did on the by 8am. Wonder what the view is like from the sun porch, think about the weather, the horses and who did what when. I will ask the memories to come strong and clear, savor every detail and begin a journey not truly forward, but a meandering back in time. May the voices of our history ring out strong and clear like the church bells we’d hear from the hillside on a crystal, clear fall morning’s ride. Simply put “what was lost, must be found”and the restless ghosts of my history are taking me there.

The Songbird Flies

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So the songbird flies, she hears the call in the winds ,the rustle in leaves of the trees, the deep rhythm as the earth surrenders to the ancient forces of time and prepares for her rest . I too feel the  shift  as the seasons  begin their dance from one to the other.  Yet I hold my flight for as long as I can. I want to feel the gentle earnestness of your kiss for a while longer. Run my tongue across your skin to taste the salty tang of  your essence  and to inhale the musky scent of your male being  just a while longer. This is the soliloquy, the finale of us before we part for a time .  I hunger for your embrace , for it to last an eternity, to go past seasons into years , years into decades on through the course of the millennia.

The you and I that once were for so long. I will always hold the memory of you in my heart, back when things were simple, back when loving you was easy as the breath which powers the heartbeat in my chest. Tonight we’re so far from that sweet place of what was, yet let us  take this time to forget the spinning, maddening world around us, to meet each other on our terms. A glance leads to a gaze, a gaze leads to an embrace  and an embrace leads to forces untamable and beyond our wildest fantasies. I can feel your want, your pulsating reverberating  need. Sometimes just falling into your arms is all I need to dust off the tomes of our history and rewrite the legend. To see the sparkle of sweat glistening  upon your chest . To see the burning embers of passion in your eyes during those unbridled  moments when nothing exists but the love slick  heat of feeling of flesh upon flesh, passion upon passion, the cresting and the rising. The moment when the world falls away and we are one in the night. Those times when one wants to hold back, to extend the burn of the deep aching fire and in the same moment to let go completely in to the total oblivion of which  pure ecstasy  avails. To become one together in the moment, the shuddering spark into a white hot roaring flame crackling  and sparking against a world gone mad.  I feel your breath upon my neck, I see the heat emanating  in your eyes from your deepest longing, I feel your kiss on my lips, the scruff of your cheek, there is no yesterday or tomorrow  and we fall with a lovers embrace into each other once again. The world melts around us and drips away.

The crescendo has been reached and like a river running to sea we roll on towards our destination.  One tide rolling in, one tide rolling out, white capping and churning we break apart. We’ll taste each other on the gentle breezes, feel each other on the gusting winds. The leaves will fall from the branches they adorned for a season and the winds will become chill as  the darkness becomes longer than the light . Yet when I gaze into the gentle glowing fire I will see your spark, feel your heat and  acknowledge the abstract power that was you. So the songbird flies.