Saturday, October 22, 2011

fall in my sweet carolina

About this time, I'd be on a haybed being pulled behind a tractor, all the straight lines and clear carrying voices of fall in the rural South. We'd be at Mike's Farm--with Nicole, maybe, Alicia, a few others--and there'd be teenagers in hoodies laughing loudly, kids from local high schools dressed up to jump out and scare you as part of the ride. The sudden breath in the cold, a white half-gone shock of a breath, and then empty sky above the trees.

At Mike's Farm, when we were kids and went there on field trips, we made apple cider from apples we helped gather. That one time I nearly stepped on a snake. Hayrides, a haunted theme for Halloween and the Christmas light show all through December. That's what I remember--lights in the dark and cold air that cuts, that wakes you up from the inside, a whole throng of ten-year-olds with red noses.

It feels like fall now here. It is fall, but it feels like it too. I walk home from the sediu at night and if I closed my eyes, I could almost be there. It's different in the city, though. One thing I've appreciated since coming here from Bucuresti is that it's smaller, it's slower, there's more of an open feeling. But it's still not the country. It's not the hard frosted earth, it's sidewalk.

Fall is so much more of a physical season, I think. Surely you'll think of summer as being the most physical--you're outside, you're playing volleyball, you go to the beach, but the heat blurs things. Makes you hazy. You're there and you're not there, a sort of half-awake dream under the thick blanket of humidity. Spring wakes you back up, but it's a slow thawing and you start off numb, the coming-alive part the kind you look back and realize. But fall--those edged cold nights, close enough to summer to feel like reprieve, to wake you up from its sleep, and not cold enough to close yourself inside from it.

Something about being here: I miss being able to walk at night, to go outside and walk out my thoughts. You're outside, but there's a half-inside, constantly public feeling of it when you've got blocs rising up on both sides. I miss going down to the south end of Wrightsville and walking barefoot on the cold sand, hearing the whole expanse of the ocean rushing up to the shore, a sound you can see in the darkness. Space to think and pray. Even just space.

I keep coming back to this: leaning against a dune at night, burying my feet in the sand to keep warm, a whole stretch of the world we live on. A place you know and don't know, that's yours and utterly not yours, so much bigger than you. Room for thoughts and prayers and conversations to float up. Get stuck up there above you. Or how they blaze above you at the fair--you're all at the fair these days--red and yellow and music and shouting and the wheeling of the tilt-o-whirl, somebody eating a caramel apple or a fried Snickers bar.

Hard ground, the way hay feels under your feet, the way the air makes you want to jump and run and laugh loudly, alive.

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home.
--Ryan Adams


  1. Beautiful descriptions, there. and a great song. I also like this one: