"I am home.
I am an imperfect citizen of an imperfect, odd beautiful, dysfunctional, delicious place.
But at least we ain't dull." (Rick Bragg - My Southern Journey. True Stories from the Heart of the South)
Rick Bragg was writing this about The South. But it could be said about Romanians, too. And this is the very reason why I felt at home in The South.
We haven't been doing much lately. It's not for lack of options, but you know, sometimes, you just need a break. Granted, our break has been pretty much lasting since October or so, but, hey, when you're happy, who's counting days, right?!
It's been a colder winter (and longer, it feels, of course, because of it) than we're used to, and because of colds and getting old, we simply don't have the drive we used to to go out and explore. There shall be happenin' times to come. We hope.
Reading and watching the birds and the piling snow, one weather event after another, along with comfort food cooking and eating is pretty much the day-to-day around here, outside work.
I have also been dreaming a lot about the South. I am reading the book I quoted from above and dreaming of why I feel, why I always have felt, like a Southerner. For some reason, now more than before, I feel worse than ever that I need to be there.
I just get lost in this book, as I slip into slumber, every night. It makes me think and dream and giggle and ponder on either how can I one day return there, or how can I recreate that heaven, right here in the mountains. But you need people like that, for this, and food like that, too.
And it's more beautiful, simple writing than I have come across in a long while. Lately, I have been missing good stories. With a wealth of ordinary but cleverly sewn together words, that flow easily like a good meal down the hatch. Words and phrases that make you go: "Why didn't I think of that?!", Bragg gives me that.
I'll quote some more:
"I loved a Cajun woman once. It was her eyes, I believe.
When I was a little boy, just because it is the kind of things boys do, I would look at the hot sun through a green, sweating bottle of 7UP. The sunlight seemed to freeze in the middle of the bottle, and glow.
She had eyes like that."
I've been taking more pictures of the winter and of the frosty purple finches outside my window, because I can't venture far in these temps! The reading, the warmth of the home, the closeness of my small family is all that I plan for for a while. Nothing more, or less.
The weight of the snow. The tallness of it. It's why I miss "just a dusting" from my previous Southern days.
These guys are so cute, but not sure why they call them "purple".
I am not even missing airports, like I used to when not traveling. Or the tropics. I am just content to be and grateful to have eyes to see and read, and ears to hear good music once in a while. Touchy fingers to feel Gypsy's silky fur.
There will be times for travel. And times for partying and playing. But for now, it's time to stay put and marvel in the quiet beauty of the world. Outside and in-between the pages of a a good book.
I hope everyone finds that, when they crave it.
This is the opening chapter in the book. And it's why I know I will make it to the end - because you want to experience this journey, promised:
"It suits me here.
My people tell their stories of vast red fields and bitter turnip greens and harsh white whiskey like they are rocking in some invisible chair, smooth and easy even in the terrible parts, because the past has already done its worst. The joys of this Southern life, we polish like old silver. We are good at stories.
We buff our beloved ancestors till they are smooth of sin, and give our scoundrels a hard shake, though sometimes we cannot remember exactly which is who.
I wonder if, north of here, they might even run out of stories someday. It might seem silly, but it is cold up there, too cold to mosey, to piddle, to loafer, and summer only lasts a week and a half. The people spit the words out so fast when they talk, like they are trying to discard them somehow, banish them, rather than relish the sound and the story. We will not run out of them here. We talk like we are tasting something.
I do it for a living, which is stealing, really."