Monday, July 26, 2010

Loving and Hating the Town that Always Seems to Be Asleep

I was reading my friend, Natalie’s, blog recently ( loving and hating New York City. As I read her thoughts, I longed to walk down some New York streets, stroll in a park with Brian and Roy, and step into one of the many little eating places they have found to share with me. I wanted to smell the city smells, listen to the city noises, and taste the city food. I also wanted an afternoon of window shopping in the city (although I always feel like country-come-to-town), keeping alert to avoid bumping into a constant throng of people on the sidewalks, and dreaming big dreams. There is something about the city that sparks my imagination and revitalizes my creative energy.

Like Natalie, I often feel like I don’t belong in the city, even though I love it every time I go to New York to visit. But, I’m always glad to get home, which brings me to my own reflections on “Loving and Hating the Town that Seems to Always Be Asleep.”

Social Circle, Georgia – my hometown for the past seven years. I don’t live inside the city limits, but on a dirt road about three miles from the lone traffic light in the center of town. Except for 3:00 pm on a weekday school day, the town is pretty drowsy. But when the school buses roll out in the afternoon from the local schools, you don’t want to be at the main intersection, or turning left out of the post office parking lot, unless you have plenty of time to spare. It’s also very important to abide by the 25 mph speed limit in town, because the Social Circle policemen absolutely love to pull over speeders and write out tickets. They are especially visible on Sunday mornings – I've decided that they are on the prowl for people who are running late for church. The townspeople are friendly enough, but very few know me by name, except at the bank, which I visit on a pretty regular basis, and at the post office, where I pick up my mail a few times each week. I’ve been a member of the Methodist Church since moving here, but still only know a handful of people. Like Natalie in New York, I just don’t feel like I quite belong in Social Circle. I don’t have any family members in the local cemetery, and no streets are named for my family. I don’t live in one of the many historic homes in town, in one of the few trendy subdivisions or on one of the rambling horse farms outside of town – I sometimes think I’ll always be an outsider here. There are times when I feel as much out of place in this little town as I do when I’m in New York.

I miss the conveniences of living in a bigger town. With only one little local grocery store that is actually very well-stocked with fresh produce, local eggs, and great meat, the pickings are sometimes slim (and a little more expensive) on other items that we like to stock in our pantry; thus, we make regular treks to the nearest Walmart, ten miles away, for a wider selection of food and other necessities. We also have to travel a minimum of ten miles to get to the restaurants we like; eating out is an event. Luckily, we’ve found a good dentist and a wonderful family doctor in Social Circle, so at least we don’t have to travel far for our health needs. We also have “Fred’s”, a Walmart in miniature, that carries a nice variety of greeting cards, canning jars and lids, cheap Crocs knock-offs and discount jeans, and other odds and ends that we can pick up locally.

Even though I have not fully acclimated to small town life, I love my five acres on my dirt road. With my gardens, the forest behind our house, and all of the beauties of life in the country, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. We always have something new to learn and experience. For instance, last Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, Phil and I watched in amazement as our colony of bats returned from their nightly feeding frenzy to the bat house he built for them on the side of our house. We laughed and cheered as we watched them zoom in toward us and then slip into their house to sleep off their nightly carousing. I never thought I’d be excited about providing a home for bats, but this country living is catching on, and I find myself finding wonder and enjoyment out here every day. I love the dark starry nights, listening to the quiet whispering of the wind in the pine trees, watching the beautiful butterflies sipping nectar from the thistles and other wild flowers, and relishing the solitude of sitting on my porch sipping a minty mojito or glass of crisp wine. When I think back to my days of commuting to work in Atlanta, I shudder, take another sip of wine, and thank God for blessing me with my home here on my dirt road, and my newly-found simple way of living.

I’m always ready to visit New York, but I think I’ll stay here in Social Circle, where life is very, very good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hitting the Wall

On Saturday afternoon about 4:00 PM, I hit the wall, figuratively speaking. It had been a long time since this had happened to me, and I was somewhat miffed that I ran out of steam a couple of hours before going out to dinner with friends. It had been a busy week, but I hadn’t been aware of how draining it was until Phil reminded me, reciting a list of things I’d done during the week, as I was struggling to get back onto my feet.

One of my main tasks for the week was watching my leg wound on a regular basis after getting the stitches removed on Tuesday, and fretting that it wouldn’t heal the way it should. I obsessed over my leg - the shade of red, the warmth of the wound site, the formation of scabs, and the lumpiness underneath the skin. It was either on my mind or lurking in the shadows all the time. This alone was enough to exhaust me!

I was on the go all week long. The garden kept me on my toes, as I picked okra, beans, peas, tomatoes and peppers, and then had to do something with them after coming in from the garden. Much of my spare time was spent in the kitchen, washing vegetables and preparing them for the freezer. I even made a new creation, candied jalapenos, a recipe that I came up with after extensive internet research and taking what I hoped was the best from several recipes I found online. The result was a delicious combination of hot and sweet, and I was very pleased with myself. One of our huge pumpkins found its way into the freezer as I labored over lugging it upstairs to the kitchen, cutting it up, cooking it, and then blending it into a creamy puree.

Besides all this, I tutored at the college one evening and helped out my friend, Beth, in her site selection business two days. I also found time to pick blueberries, knit a wash cloth, and bake bread for the Saturday market. Saturday morning at the market was extremely busy, as I sold out of almost everything at my booth, and commented along with everyone else how hot and humid it was.

So it was that at 4:00 Saturday afternoon I sat down to rest for a few minutes and crashed. Somehow, I managed to get myself out of the chair an hour later and freshened up enough to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. Once there, with a few chips and salsa in my tummy, and sipping on a strong margarita, I artificially perked up and enjoyed dinner immensely. But by the time we reached home after dinner, I was done. I managed to dredge up enough energy to call Brian to wish him a happy birthday before my lights went out, and didn’t regain consciousness until the sunlight hit my eyes yesterday morning.

And so, now, it’s another week. And it looks like it’s going to be a full one. I hope I learned a lesson last week, and I plan to spend a little more time with my feet up and my eyes closed each day. No more crashes for me – that wall I hit was no fun!