Seduced by the South

I’ve been struggling with allergies ever since I hit Florida, so when I discovered that I felt well driving after I left Amelia Island (outrunning the pollens that bedeviled me?), I kept driving.

I’d seen a picture on Facebook of Callaway Gardens near Pine Mountain in Georgia, and since Amelia Island was only a long days drive from Pine Mountain, I decided to head that way. I set my phone to Google maps and let Google lead the way. It took me through many small towns, some very lovely and oh, so southern, such as Euphaula, Alabama. (The tree-canopied highway swept past well-kept mansions, some with ornate gingerbread trim, some with classic columns.)

I’d planned to spend the night halfway, making it an easy two-day journey, but I didn’t see anywhere I particularly wanted to stay, and since I continued to be able to breathe easily, I kept driving. I was way too late to get a place in Callaway Gardens, but luckily I found a small motel in Pine Mountain. And what a find! White Columns Motel is family run, inexpensive, and has all the charm of a resort bed and breakfast. (In fact, they did fix breakfast for me after my good night’s sleep in a four-poster bed.)

I am now sitting in the sun on a swing outside my room, breathing azalea-scented air, basking under cloudless blue skies, bonelessly relaxed. A sporadic breeze blows away the flower scent and brings me the cool clear odor of pine from the forest behind me.

I suppose I should go visit the gardens as I had planned, but the swing has seduced me. I feel like a heroine in an historic novel, a southern belle with nothing to do but indulge my indolence. Luckily, I am not such a character, because after the indolence comes chaos (otherwise there wouldn’t be a story), and I am enjoying this moment far too much to have it interrupted with plotlines.

If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, don’t worry. I’ll still be here, letting the gentle movements of air and swing caress me.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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Naked Ladies and Other Beauties

I’ve spent most of my life in deserts, first in Colorado, and more recently in a high corner of the Mojave Desert. (Colorado might not seem like a desert since it has tillable soil and no cactuses. What makes it a desert is the lack of surface water. Only Colorado’s white gold — the deep mountain snow — makes the state an oasis. Without water, very little but scrub grows naturally.)

It seems odd then, after a lifetime’s experience of how difficult it is to grow anything, to find myself in an area where things grow almost by accident.

In my walks about town, I see naked ladies everywhere. These pink lily-like flowers of the amaryllis are so named because the flowers grow on naked stems, long after the leaves are gone. But knowing the name doesn’t make these foliage-free flowers any more lovely, especially since I’ve never seen them before.

Nor have I ever seen azaleas, and now a lovely red bloom greets me every morning.

Most surprising, considering my total inability to cultivate rhododendrums, I’ve seen the bounteous bushes growing in the woods.

But everything seems to grow in this fertile place, holly and ivy and a lushness of greenery growing upon other greenery.

And oh, did I forget to mention wild blackberries? Most are not ripe yet, but even so, I manage to find few luscious berries on almost every trek.

What an incredible world we live in. So much diversity! I can only stand in awe, and give thanks.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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