When I fell in love with this house, it was like falling in love with a lover. As I have said before, I thought I would die if I didn't get to live here.
Ten years later, it is still my joy and as with a long-lived human love, I have found so many more things to love and cherish about it than I had ever imagined. The yard, mostly, although I knew the trees were amazing. The old Southern Live Oaks, especially.
This one has the widest girth of all the oaks in the yard and I am beginning to wonder just how old it is. There are oak trees which attain a thousand years or more of life and I would not be surprised to know that this is one of those. There are at least three other Live Oaks in the yard which have to be centuries old. Living with these trees is like living with ancient gods. I cannot help but feel they are sentient.
Within and on their branches live a myriad of other life forms from the insects to the Spanish Moss to the Resurrection fern which make their branches shaggy and green, especially now after so much rain. They are universes within themselves. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to live under the branches of these trees. To live a life sheltered by their presence. They humble me. They soothe me. They bring me quiet joy.
My house is old, but not as old as the oak trees, of course. Only a hundred and fifty-five years old, which in some parts of the country is not that old but here it's a respectable age. And I am constantly charmed and amazed at how well it has adapted its walls and floors, it's curving staircase, it's rooms and spaces to our lives. I hope I have not embarrassed it or insulted its dignity with my uh, quirky sense of decoration.
It doesn't seem to be. If anything, I get a sense of...amusement...from the house. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing a bit too much, but part of me thinks not at all.
"Is it haunted?" people ask me.
And no, I do not think it is if by haunted you mean inhabited by an unhappy spirit or a restless one. If there are spirits living here, they seem to me to be patient and ever-tolerating of it all. The loud music we play sometimes, the little boys running and shouting from room to room, back and forth down the hallway, my mermaids, my madonnas, my bad art and good art, my children's pictures, my seashells and books and shabby curtains. When I go to bed at night, I feel nothing but comfort, a wish from the house that I rest and rest well.
And I generally do.
Today I have worked in the yard. The sky turned as blue as a robin's egg, as clear as if it had never been blurred by a cloud in its life. And once again, I was enchanted all over, as you are sometimes when you look at your lover in a new light. You fall in love more deeply than ever before, even knowing, as you do, the faults and the weaknesses, the places where time has had its way with things. Perhaps especially because you know these things.
The Confederate Jasmine is about to bloom.
The Japanese Maple glows like fire in the late afternoon light.
My roses bloom and bloom and bloom. They scent the air.
I went out to the garden to pick a few things for salad and took the chicks a kale plant which is spent and done. I tried to take their picture but they won't hold still for a second.
From the top, clockwise, that's Nicey, Missy, Drogo and Chi-Chi.
I don't think they cared for the kale and would have vastly preferred grapes.
I find things in the yard all the time. People have been living here long before there was a dump. We find glass bottles and pieces of pottery and china, rusty old equipment parts, glass marbles, once a dental tool. It's a constant archeological dig around here.
I love feeling like a part of the chain of humans who have lived here, who have lived their lives in this green and peaceful place. I think of the babies made and born here, of the weddings held here (there have been two since I lived here), the deaths, the pains, the illnesses, the rebirths, the dancing, the fiddling, the sorrows, the sweet moments of love and of meals taken by people who love each other, all of the sleeps which have been slept, all of the gardens which have been grown, all of the chickens and probably hogs too which have been raised. All of the dancing and prayer and celebration and mourning and schemes and dreams and falling-in-loves and just pure life.
I think of all of this as I cook and as I trim palms and roses, as I weed and as I plant ferns and herbs, camellias, potatoes and squash. As I tend my chickens, as I gather my eggs, as I lay my head down at night. And all of it makes me feel at once insignificant and blessed. Everyone who has ever lived here has died or will die, me too.
In the meantime, I get to spend my days and night within these walls, underneath and beside these oaks which will in turn eventually die but there are young Live Oaks in the yard too, and perhaps one day, they may be centuries old.
If the planet survives and the climate remains kind enough.
And if not, well, that makes me all the luckier in some way.
Here. A sign from the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
She had Cross Creek and an orange grove. I have Lloyd and the oak trees.
I have always felt a strong attraction to MKR and her books, her words. She knew, as I know, that you can open a gate, enter it, close it behind you and be magically within the mystic loveliness of childhood.
How fortunate I was not only to find that place but to be able to live in it.
I never could have imagined.
And yet. Here I am.