This time last week, I was part way through the long, long state of Florida. We got up early, threw the cosmetic case in the car, and headed off towards Lutheridge, a Lutheran camp which will rent out their cabins during the off season. My family gathers there periodically, in part because it's the only place that my 95 year old grandmother will agree to go.
So, off we drove, taking a side trip to pick her up in Greenwood, South Carolina. Fourteen hours later, we arrived.
So, what have I done in my week of Internet fasting?
--Well, there's the driving, of course, from the southern tip of the country to the Appalachian mountains near Asheville. Four states in fourteen hours (on the return trip, we were more leisurely, with a stopover in Jacksonville). We listened to great music. Is there a better album than Paul Simon's Graceland? Maybe Roseanne Cash's The List. And of course, there was a bit of Christmas music--my all-time favorite, Jazz to the World.
--I reverted to my old 1980's habit of nervously checking for mushroom clouds. After all, the week started with that horrific North Korean attack on the South Korean fishing village. Sure, we think that North Korea doesn't have a nuclear capability that can reach the U.S.--but intelligence sources have been proven wrong before.
--But I was with 4 children (my nephew, and the children of my cousins), so I quickly forgot about nuclear annihilation. Instead, we had light saber fights and puppet shows and trips to the playground and flashlight hikes and art projects.
--We also went to the beautiful sports field of a local high school. While my dad ran his daily 6 miles, we played on the artificial turf. We tried to teach my nephew how to use a baseball glove (he had a smaller version), but we quickly switched to soccer, which doesn't hurt quite so much when the ball goes astray.
--We had great meals. Of course we did--it's Thanksgiving, one of the most straightforward of holidays. What could be better than a holiday that revolves around great food and gratitude?
--My nephew still has such a different sense of storytelling than I do. I tried to create a Thanksgiving puppet show, but he wanted the puppets to fight. When we were at the playground, he loved to pretend that he was operating an ice cream stand with horrible ice cream flavors. He'd hand us "an ice cream cone" and direct us to taste and spit it out. Of course, we complied, with great theatricality. It delighted him. It was only later that I wondered about the wisdom of what we were modeling when he started spitting out his milk.
--We bought a lot of shoes at the annual sale at The Frugal Backpacker. I encouraged my mom to buy 4 pairs of sandals. They were there, in her size, which actually fit her feet, and they were already reduced--but you still got the buy one pair, get one pair at half price deal. I bought 2 pairs, and my mom bought 4. We're tall women, with big feet, and it's rare that any store has any shoes in our size. To find so many size 10s seemed like a sign.
--I taught my cousin's wife how to quilt. We worked on practice Christmas stockings. Will she go home and make the stockings she has planned? Or will she decide that it's really too much effort to quilt by hand?
--Lutheridge has a small community of houses. We looked at one that's likely to be for sale. We wondered, as we have in past years, if it would be a wise investment. We wondered, my spouse and me, if we would like living in a church camp near Asheville. We think we would.
--We marvelled at how quickly the time together zoomed by, as it always does. We thought about the fact that 4 generations managed to spend half a week in a large house and still be speaking at the end of the time--in fact, we were sorry to say good-bye. We gave thanks for the gift of family.
--After spending time in Asheville, we stopped for a bit near Columbia, South Carolina to check out a retirement place that my parents are considering. It's near the city of Columbia, but completely in the country (although with the spread of Columbia westward, perhaps not for long). I miss those rural landscapes.
--We try not to be driving on Thanksgiving Sunday, when I 95 turns into a parking lot, so we stayed with an old college friend in Jacksonville. On Sunday, we went to a nature reserve and hiked a bit through the coastal flats of northern Florida. Such different landscapes on this trip--such a treat!
--I tried not to think about work and all the projects that must be completed by the end of the year. I tried not to fret about all the retreat coordinating that I'd like to have done by December 3. I tried not to worry about all the parts of the chapbook promotion that must be done in the coming weeks.
--I didn't read much, and I didn't write at all, but that's O.K. I find that these kind of trips fill up my well in ways that I can't always anticipate. In the coming weeks, I fully expect to find some poems bubbling up, poems that wouldn't have existed without this time away.
Phoebe Cates Friday
4 days ago