There's nothing like moving to the south to slow a person down. As I sit here at the tail end of winter waiting for Spring's official appearance, I'm already thinking about the heat of summer. Heat I can manage. Triple digits back home in July/August was more the rule than the exception. We all had a sort of built-in sensor for 98 degrees. When temps dipped beneath 100, we sighed with relief. Instead of arid air searing our lungs and keeping us inside, the heat of 98 degrees caressed our skin. Sitting in the shade was do-able if not necessarily pleasant.
But, like all things, slowing down as shades of meaning. Humidity may slow me to a standstill at lower temperatures here and the mosquitoes are a new problem I had my first battles with last summer. But other areas of life have pushed hard at my busyness index. Shopping is a big area that has changed. Shopping takes planning. Shopping takes deciding. Shopping asks me if I need to take a short jaunt or a longer, day-long event. I've opted mostly for the short jaunt mainly because I am reluctant to stray too far off. This desire to not drive much beyond Hayti, on my own, is a mystery that came with our arrival. After 8 months, I've decided not to fight it. But not straying far has allowed me some benefits.
Spending less on impulse purchases is an obvious big one but I have also come to like the space of time that now happen between Starbucks runs. In eight months, I've been to Starbucks twice. Considering that a Starbucks run was an almost daily occurrence in my former life, this is a slow down that could be measured in latte light years if there was such a thing.
Slowing down with people is another biggy. People are mostly friendly here. I chalk that up to Southern politeness which I like very much. But for a person who comes from a world where someone can become an "instant" friend, navigating the waters of Southern politeness can be tricky. Family members, long gone, are still present in conversation as if they were just in the next room and would appear at any moment. Memory is kept alive here. My family is small and scattered all over. We're in CA, WV, WI, NY, CO, IN, TN, and OR. Most of that extended list lives in Wisconsin and New York and most of them I haven't seen since childhood. The rest are my immediate family or in-law connections. California has one, West Virginia has one. Tennessee and Indiana have five and two respectively. Any way you cut it, my family is small.
The Pirate was an only child. He calls this place home but he's probably just one of a handful of people who have few family roots here. And, those who might remember his parents are themselves very old. That string of memory is being stretched very thin.
Of course, there is that pesky old thing called aging (excuse the pun). It's inescapable and I may look in the mirror and see a woman holding together fairly well but the evidence of slowing down is constantly present. My knee tells me all the time that I am no spring chicken (yes, I used that cliche)
So, I slow down and figure out the Plan B of how to get on in daily life. Do I want pictures of the other side of the flood wall? Pirate is on duty. In fact, he's on duty for a lot these days, God love him. And, I'm slowing down to savor the change, to observe a new world, to encounter people in a new way. Slowing down allows for clarity and depth of meaning and understanding. Slowing down is very much like reading the Bible. The slower and more carefully you read it, the more meaning you find, the more connections you make, and the more applicable its lessons become.
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