Soon I will venture down to South Carolina's Upcountry to visit my beloved father and "other mother." My Dad, at 85-years-old, with thick white hair and a salt-and-pepper beard, is active and still practices internal medicine and endocrinology part-time. My other-mother is a wonderful artist, a painter in oils, who helps to run a local gallery and leads an active, yet serene life.
I look forward to spending time with my folks, catching up, sharing meals, as well as savouring the quiet to write into my new novel,"pen" a book review, keep up my journal, and read the novels, short stories, and magazines I will stuff into my duffel.
I intend to take long country walks in the rolling hills, forests, and woods, spotting animals I don't see in the frozen north, listening to the roar of cascading waterfalls, digging my hands into the thawing red clay earth, venturing out on a hike or two in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I will eat grits and the best corn muffins ever, have a glass of sweet tea--a Southern summer refresher--though it is still winter Upcountry.
Though the American South has much shame in its history (who or what place does not share some of this shame) there is also a wealth of stories. Some of my favorite authors--Faulkner, the playwright Tennessee Williams, Donna Tartt, Cormac McCarthy--hail from the American South.
What I relish most about going down Upcountry is the slower pace, living for a short time in a place where people take time, for whatever task they are engaged in, for one another,and nearly everyone possesses good manners.
I look forward to passing a stranger on the lonesome road and hearing, "hey!" a friendly greeting simply because I am another person in the world.