...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Odds & Ends, aka The Longest, Most Rambling Post Ever: day 30

Tonight, the 30th day of this series, I admit to be scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit.  I've kept a tattered old notebook handy this past month, on which I scribble my ideas for posts and then strike off when I use them.  Some things I thought were undeserving of their own post; other ideas lack the photos to go with, simply because I haven't had the time.  So tonight, I'll highlight these humble things to love about the South.

Southern Magnolia trees.  To this northern girl, they look like fauna from another world, with their thick, leathery leaves.  Check out the fruit they produce!  This one is about the size of a softball, and it's soft and velvety to the touch.  Sorry, to my knowledge you can't eat it.  Just lately, the individual pods in this fruit burst open, revealing black bean-sized, crimson, rubbery seeds.  Dazzling.  I'm on the edge of my seat to see it bloom next spring.  That will probably earn a post of its own.
 Tropical-looking flowers.  These beauties in our back yard remind me of Hawaii.  All sorts of lovely associations there.
Stunning wildflowers. Most are unfamiliar to me, blooming at their appointed times, but I smile each time I see one of my young men running across the field with a fistful and a smile on their face.  I know I'm about to be introduced to more of the beauty growing around and about.  I'm so familiar with the Dandelion-Bluebell-Wild Rose-Lupine-Fireweed cycle in Alaska.  We know just what time of year it is, based upon when each of them are blooming.  I expect it's the same for the locals here in East Tennessee, when they see these,
Or when these amazing, towering, royal purple lovelies enter the stage.
And speaking of flowers, how about roses still blooming in October?
They're planted everywhere, it seems, and in the tenth month of the year, they're still showing off.  If that isn't astounding enough to me, imagine my surprise when I noticed landscaping companies busily re-planting the flower beds around town with Pansies, in October.

Now let's talk food for a moment.  I absolutely love being able to buy fresh peaches.  Baskets of "South Carolina peaches" are sold in markets and on corners.  They are absolutely delectable.  Many still have fresh green leaves on.  
Are you still with me?

Produce markets.  Seriously love the variety of fresh, local food here.  Remember my plug for heirloom tomatoes?  Heirloom Peppers are just as noteworthy.  They're gorgeous, in all mottled shades of green, red, brown, and purple.  I never knew peppers could taste like an heirloom pepper tastes. 
I absolutely love to see roadside produce, especially with hand-painted signs, being offered on the honor-system.
 Black Walnuts.  These are yours for the harvesting.  Just listen for the tell-tale sound of the fruits falling from the trees, or if you are very unlucky, discover them by having one fall square on your head, like I did.  It took us awhile to figure out what these lime-like things were.  They actually look and smell like limes.  You gather them up when they fall, rather than pick them from the tree.  Then you save them in a cool, dry place while you wait for them to season.  That's what I call the process of letting them turn from their lovely yellow-lime color to dark brown.  Here's our personal stash.  Getting the nutmeats out of these guys is quite difficult, we've heard, not to mention the process stains your hands.  That ought to make a fun, future post as well.
Yet another thing to love?  Butterflies.  Butterflies everywhere, in all sizes and colors.  They flit from flower to flower, reminding me of my childhood days spent catching and collecting and releasing.
Cumberland Mountain State Park.  Some dear friends introduced us to this, and surely it is deserving of its own post...but shoot, I'm just running out of days.  So here you go.
 In addition to a lovely campground, they offer use of canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, fishing boats, and paddle boards, all at no additional charge.  The beautiful, man-made lake is just a short & crazy ride across the park from the campground.  We highly recommend riding in the back of a pick-up, to get full-effect.
 One of us went out on the water for the very first time ever.
 Neighbor horses.  I grew up next door to an Amish family.  I always loved seeing their horses at work or rest or play.  It's an absolute joy to have horsey neighbors again, and we visit with them often.
There are other things, too, friends.  So many things to love.  I haven't even mentioned extended sandal-wearing into October, or wild Morning Glories twirling and twisting up roadside signage and fences.  Nor have I yet mentioned how Papa Murphy's $5 Faves are all. week. long. rather than just Monday through Wednesday.
I also have not mentioned the joy of finding (with the help of our car salesman, 1 1/2 hours away--true story) our new church family here in the South.  Missing our beloved Alaska church tremendously, we now have part of our hearts here at Church of the Cove, too.  After all, every time we go somewhere new, we have a chance to meet more of the family.  As He so tenderly reminded me as I grieved leaving Wasilla Bible Church, "My people are everywhere, Jessica."
I'm so thankful for a bright and familiar place in the midst of feeling like strangers in a strange land.  And with that, a scraping-of-the-barrel, hodgepodge of things to love, I will close for tonight.

1 comment:

Tiffany Borges said...

I'm reading! The pizza picture is a jewel. ;) You're even photogenic when you're being silly, I love that!