Friday, February 11, 2011

Loved, unexpectedly

I didn't want to move here. In fact, I was terrified to move here--to this rural county on the Mississippi-Alabama line. Conservative dry county in a town with one red light, only two red lights in the whole county. I'd lived in places like Auburn, St. Louis, Los Angeles. I was living in a place I adored--Atlanta. I loved going to the Y, to Java Monkey coffee house, taking yoga classes and cooking classes. I loved the diversity. I loved going to the Farmer's Market and hearing at least eight different languages that I couldn't identify and seeing signs in the bathroom stalls asking users not to stand on the toilets. I loved seeing couples of all kinds, happy and at home in their town. I loved feeling like I fit in, like there were lots of others just like me.
But then heartbreak took hold. As we were driving back to Atlanta after H's brother's funeral, I had a strong, clear feeling. We needed to move to her hometown. That's what we did. Within six months she was here, and I came a few months later at the end of the school year. We were coming for five years. Then we'd decide where to go next.
We've now been here almost seven years.
I still miss my yoga studios, my independent coffee shops and bookstores, seeing five different kinds of eggplant at the farmer's market, the energy and culture of a big city. Seeing what classes the Cook's Warehouse is offering and what is coming to the Fox. As soon as it is warm enough sitting outside at Raging Burrito, drinking Margaritas and dipping into guacamole. I still miss a lot. I have a lot of city in me.
But there is much I've fallen in love with here. The kindness of people, that people here take time. We had more meals that you could shake a stick at once we brought these three home from the hospital. Yesterday morning, the new dryer still on the truck, the phone rang. "Donna said y'all had to go get a new dryer yesterday. Can my son and I come help you install it?" When there is so much kindness and generosity around you, you want to participate. When Brandon and Terry came to switch out and hook up the dryer, I had my kids go downstairs and watch for a few minutes. I want them to see that kind of task, that kind of consideration.
People around here work hard; they are always working at something. They are industrious and resourceful. Gardens, woodworking, welding, sewing, canning, cooking.
I love the pace of life here. People stop and take time here. They know one another. If you have a need, someone knows about it and helps you with it.
When we moved here we knew we wanted to try to have a few children. We thought three might be a good number to aim for. Well, we hit the mark. Our three will be three and a half years old next month. The time is going by so fast sometimes it makes my chest tight. Thankfulness abounds when I ponder my own lack of control: what were once two of my biggest fears--carrying three babies at once and moving to H's hometown--are currently among our biggest and most treasured blessings.
I can think of no better place for us to be raising these youngin's. Just this morning I was reading a bit of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Here are just a few of the things he wrote about children being in nature: "Modern life narrows our focus until it is primarily visual...nature accentuates all of the senses, it helps us recover from the stresses of daily life and improves our capacity to pay attention...Nature invites exploration, direct contact, and experience. But it also inspires a sense of awe, a glimpse of what is still 'un-Googleable''s mystery and magnitude."

He also says "How satisfying it is for a child to know a place--and to know it deeply....Children feel more more grounded to where they live when they can learn to identify some of the common plants, birds, and animals they see in their yards and neighborhoods."

This makes me think of Lucia being excited to see the deer tracks and Elliott loving pointing out a cardinal to me. Mazie begging to go get the chicken eggs. Throwing rocks in the old cow pond. Watching the heron fly from the edge of the pond up into a tall pine.

Blue skies. Green grass. Ponds. Sandy patches in the dirt roads. Rocks to throw. Leaves that fall.
Blue Herons. Red-Winged Blackbirds. Fox squirrels. Cowhorns, yearlings, bucks, and does. Cardinals, blue jays, towhees, and mockingbirds. Wild ferns, tiny wild irises. Some springs the dogwood trees out in the pines are so plentiful, they look like snow.
Mazie was walking back up to our house from Nana's. I was waiting outside for her. When she got to me she said, "I saw a squirrel." Then she cocked her head and, thinking, said, "but it was red." I said, "Mazie, that was the fox squirrel. You saw the fox squirrel." I loved that she could tell he was different. I love that another day, the three and I saw him again and got to see where his nest is.
I love that when we go walking down the dirt road, they look for deer tracks. "Look, Mama, deer tracks," Lucia will say. She loves to find them and show them to her siblings and me. Mazie has started asking all about bugs.
Everyday we go to the chicken yard to feed them our scraps and give them corn and pellets. They love getting the eggs and bringing them back up to the house. We've picked up a feather and determined which chicken it once belonged to.
We've also gone to someone else's property in June for blueberry picking. Their blueberry bushes were the biggest I've ever seen. The three and I picked blueberries one morning, filling our buckets and bellies. I love that they are learning about where food comes from.
This year I am going to attempt a garden again. Lucia and Elliott and Mazie will each get their own little plot to tend. I think they are at a great age to start this. We are already starting to talk about what they might want to plant.
Before we moved here, when I would come with H to visit, I didn't think this place was that pretty. Just a bunch of pine trees, I thought. But, now that I live here. I think it is beautiful. It is in the details. Once I noticed the oaks and magnolias, ferns and acorns, its beauty began to grow for me. Each year I find it more and more beautiful. I am so thankful we live here right now, for this time in our lives. We are right where we are supposed to be.
When I first read the theme for this week's All Four Love, this place I am living was the first thing that came to my mind. These woods, this dirt road, this home. Unexpected, yes, but still a deep love.
I don't know how many more years we will be here. But I know wherever we go, I'd rather be living down a dirt road than on a cul-de-sac. And I know I will always have a piece of this place in my heart.


GrandPa said...

A lovely post, Ktb.....thanks for sharing with us...luall, NanaLin & GrandPa

Grancy/Mom said...

Dear K,
You are such an absolutely awesome woman!!! You are so creative and talented - wonderful photographer, excellent writer, imaginative teacher, amazing cook/chef, evocative artist.
I, too, worried about your move to such a small town - and how you could find ways and places to use all your talents and creativity. However, you have shown that worry to have been so misplaced!
You have just continued to do those same things, only in new and different ways. Your photographs are still great. Now they also show your great love for your children and your surroundings.
You have increased such warmth and caring into your writing. Your blog is a true joy to read. The latest entry is some of the best writing anywhere. It should be published. It evokes so many emotions and shows such growth in countless ways.
Now you use that wonderful imagination and whatever your surroundings are to teach your own 3 about life and love and the things you want them to learn.
The triplets love to help in the kitchen because you have brought your love of and creativity with cooking to their lives.
They, like you, have come to exhibit artistry through many avenues - paints, crayons, play - even in the mud.
Lucia, Elliott, and Mazie are SO blessed to have you as their mother!
Your family and friends are so fortunate to have you in their lives!
Thank you for letting us see into y'all's everyday lives through your eyes of wonder and joy!
I am so very proud to have you as my daughter!!! You really are such an amazing and awesome woman!
With all my love, Mom

The Sweetest Bean said...

This was a beautiful post my dear friend, it brought tears to my eyes! We miss you all so much, but know that you all are in a way "home." We hope one day to live near you and watch our kids grow together. We love the magic we feel each time we come there to visit you all. We treasure your happiness and although we are all far apart right now, enjoy each memory we have had together and each new adventure we get to watch though you, h, and l, e, and m's eyes.
We love you!

Todd and Randi said...

Love this post Katie! I know it makes Holly so proud too. We miss Atlanta too and spending time with you all.

I love that your children get to experience nature daily. It's something I wish my children were exposed to more.

Jeanneoli said...

Beautiful post!!! Your life is amazing and I would pick that over any cul de sac....any day!!! Thanks for playing along.

WEW said...

your mom really said it best. you are an amazing mother and an amazing friend. your little village is lucky to have you and H and your kids. we are lucky to know your hometown through your eyes. thank you for the best piece of writing i have read in ages.

Patricia said...

Katie, Some days I can hardly wait to get to read your blog! Great!
Love, AP

donna tuttle said...

Katy, I just saw all those precious pictures and read your awesome story! I'm so glad you were able to not only adjust but fall in love with that place. Your mother is totally correct, you are an awesome woman and those kids are so blessed to have a mother like you. I can tell you are doing a wonderful job with them. Love you and hope to get down that way some time. Donna