Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


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A Neighborhood in Wisconsin
Very much like the one in which I grew up.

I have lived in the South 20 years. For about five of those years, I didn't realize how much I would grow to hate it. I was young and single and I was way too busy doing all the things young and single people do to really evaluate or even understand the kind of life I wanted to have once the club hopping, the binge drinking and the merry-go-dating came to an end. And, because I wasn't especially interested in the culture outside the Perimeter, I didn't immediately appreciate all the ways in which life here is at odds with my personal beliefs.

Now I have and now I do. And it's quite a dichotomy.

But it's more than that and it's less than that. Because when I experience a wave of homesickness so strong that it can pull me under and hold me there for days, it's usually triggered by something much less consequential than religion, or politics. What does me in is....

The weather.

When I lived at home in Wisconsin, fall was my very favorite time of year. I loved the perfume of rotting leaves, and later, pumpkins decaying on doorsteps and porches. I loved the way the air felt in my lungs. I remember sucking in great lungfuls just to feel the cold, clean bite of it in my chest. It felt different somehow, from lush green summer air. Even the sun shone differently in the fall. It was a kinder, more humble warmth. We could play all day in the crispness, never sweating and never catching cold. And then evening would come, and the first little tendrils of winter would make itself known in the delicious chill that stole over the neighborhood. We would draw on sweatshirts and sweaters, enjoying the soft kiss of fleece and yarn on arms that had been too long bare. Heaven.

My mother would begin to make hearty, belly filling things. Stew, soup, chili. It was good to be full after nibbling away the summer, too hot to digest anything substantial. We would drink hot apple cider or cocoa, while the adults wrapped their hands around mugs of steaming coffee. It was good to be warm from the inside out.

My sisters and I would play for weeks in the leaves that fell from the enormous oak tree on our back yard. We would comb the neighborhood for discarded boxes and then drag them home to our backyard. We would fashion them into a labyrinthian structure, join them with copious amounts of masking tape, and then heap them with leaves, creating a cozy, rustly, womb in which to tell secrets and write imagined things. We would beg our mother to let us sleep in it and she would reluctantly agree, knowing full well that it wouldn't last. We would drag sleeping bags, pillows and stuffed animals in there, and have a fine time giggling conspiratorily for an hour or two. And then we would traipse back inside to warm beds. My mother never said a word as she kissed us good night on cold pinkened cheeks.

Once, we built a pile of leaves so tall that it reached almost to the airing porch off our second story bedroom. And somehow, we took a notion to jump from that porch, into the pile of leaves. I remember sitting on the railing poised for flight, holding my sister's hand. I remember seeing her fear and elation and the way the wind excited the hair around her face. And then we jumped. It seemed like mere seconds before we hit the leaf pile, and we were disappointed. We scrambled up spitting leaves and raced up the stairs to do it again, resolving to jump higher this time. We jumped for an hour before my mother caught us. She, fearful of what could have happened, scolded us with a tremor in her voice and fire in her eyes. "You could have broken every bone in your body!!" she declared. And so we could have. But what fun we had. What fun.

Eventually, the romance of fall would fade as the landscape became more dead and barren, and winter loomed near. And we would begin to wish for snow to cover up the bleakness of skeletal trees and dry brown grass. And when it came, we were glad to say goodbye to the autumn. But it was magical while it lasted.

There is none of that here.

When autumn comes to the South, it is fleeting and capricious. There is always a lengthy Indian Summer after the tantalizing coolness of those first fall mornings. It keeps us guessing. People rush out to buy pants and jackets, only to find that temperaturs have soared again into the 80's, and sometimes beyond. There will be only a few truly glorious days that are pleasantly chilly before the gray, wet, dreary winter sets in.

For twenty years I've been homesick. For autumn, for my family, for the memories that are so hard to hang onto without the familiarity of home. I long for life before the South. And I'm sad that my boys will never know the joy of autumn in it's most spectacular sense. They will only know the pallid, unremarkable end of summer that passes for fall here.

I want to take my boys and go home, even knowing that I will never see autumn through a child's eyes again. They can see for me. And it will be enough.


  • At 8:33 AM, Blogger Karyn said…

    Amen, sister. Autumn is my favorite time to be a New Englander. My DH doesn't get it and likes to remind me that OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY HAVE FALL TOO, YOU KNOW. Pshaw. How could it compare to this? I know the smell of leaves and sting of cold lungsful of air of which you speak and I can't imagine doing without them.

  • At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Autumn is also my favorite season, though I think I like your autumn better.

    I think I'll make beef stew this weekend. Mmmmm.

  • At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Autumn is my favorite as well. Just this week the temps are supposed to start falling and we are all excited. Of course, when we have to go rake the 40 bags of leaves the excitement will fade a bit!

    But I don't think I could ever describe it as you have. I just love your way with words - you are truly gifted!

  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Foofa said…

    I have lived in the midwest the vast majority of my life and completely understand where you are coming from. Fall is wonderful. Winter, however, is bad. I would agree with karyn though, New England fall is something particularly special.

  • At 2:44 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    First of all this was so beautifully written. But I am starting to sound like a broken record saying that to all of your posts.

    I spend far too much time complaining about the seasons. Reading your post made me realize that I shouldn't take them for granted.

  • At 8:45 PM, Blogger OhTheJoys said…

    I am SO DARNED EXCITED. I'm from Illinois.

    I'm at a loss for words, but...

    Cheese and broasted chicken and Madison and WISCONSIN!!


  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger Amie Adams said…

    The lack of changing seasons was one of the hardest parts of moving to the South. I'm back in the land of four seasons and I couldn't be happier. There is a sense of renewal with the advent of the change in weather. Time to start over, time to honor traditions.

    Your writing is beautiful. I was especially touched by the bittersweet notion of never seeing it the same way you did as a child. How sights, sounds and smells had such a lasting they seemed so much goes by too quickly now for my brain to capture them.


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