The Call

In the words of Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, August 01, 2003

Notes from Georgia ~ August 1, 2003

Over The Rainbow
August 1, 2003
Notes from Georgia

Howdy ya'll! As many of you know we have been in Georgia the last 7 in the deep south and we do mean DEEEP south. How did we get to Georgia? Charlotte found a website called housecarers . You pay an annual fee to post a bio for homeowners to read and you get to read the ads listed there and then apply for house sitting jobs and so here we are in a place we have never been, housesitting for folks we met the day before they left home. So back to describing Georgia..... words that come to mind are humidity, fireflies, thunderstorms, mosquitoes, stinging scorpions, chiggers, poisonous snakes, poison ivy, American cockroaches, southern BBQ and hospitality. We have been staying in a northern suburb of Atlanta. Just imagine Los Angeles basin sitting in the middle of a jungle. One of the popular tour guides says that Atlanta is an island of sophistication in a sea of rednecks. We have been told not to repeat that too loudy in this part of the world. The small community just across the river from where we are is rich in history. The union officers resided in Roswell while they burned and destroyed Atlanta. They left much of Roswell as they found it. All around this area there are old old churches, homes and businesses.

Weather? What to say about the weather. Well, it usually rains every day...not all day but we usually get at least one shower. This morning when we left on our walk, the weather channel told us it was 78 and humidity was 93%. By time we got back to the house it felt like we had been hiking in a sauna. They say this has been a mild summer with only a few days above 90. We can only imagine what it would be like if we were having a real summer. I suspect we would feel like beans that had been left in the steamer too long. We have noticed that it is more difficult to breath when we walk. The air feels thick and heavy. They have gigantic fans blowing on the golf course. We suppose to dry the grass? We seldom see folks out and about so there's no one to ask questions of.

We are staying in a neighborhood that surrounds the Cherokee Country Club. This area was home to the Cherokee Nation until they were all moved to Oklahoma on the "Trail of Tears". We are in an 1800 sq. ft. basement apartment. The main house is 5600 sq. ft. and is small by comparison to most of the other residences in this area. The west side of our apartment has a few windows. The east side is underground. It is cool and dark and probably a good place to be during tornados. We sit above the famous Chattahouchee River. Locals refer to it as the Houch. We can barely glimpse the water here and there through the trees. The same is true of the sky. The thick canopy of the forest keeps us from seeing out. It is very dark in the apartment and we must keep lights on all day. We had once thought we might like an underground house but have now decided against that. We have never been so affected by our environment. The humidity and darkness have sapped our energy. We are tired every day. Lots of people we have encountered have problems with allergies because of the high mold counts. That may also contribute to fatigue. We have always been morning people. We awaken with eagerness but not in Georgia. You've heard the song.....summertime and the livin' is easy. Maybe everyone is tired. It has been our observation that people tend to move slow, talk slow and think slow. Could it be the weather?

We have seen many homes in this area that are well over 10,000 sq. feet. All anyone can tell us is that they like to build 'em big in Georgia. Huge homes, mostly brick, with expansive lawns.....enormous mowed and manucured lawns. We are living in a dense, dark forest.....all of the Atlanta area is like that. It is old growth forest overgrown with vines and bushes. Sometimes it is inpenetrable. It is amazing. We imagine it is much like the Amazon jungle since it is a rainforest. We honestly don't know how the first settlers ever got here. There are some pine but mostly it is hardwood. The trees are full of birds and insects and who knows what else. We must say we have had a good sampling of southern food. We have even ventured to the world famous Blue Willow in Social Circle, Georgia just east of here. They serve a southern buffet that has been featured in USA Today, Southern Living, Gourmet Magazine, Food and Wine and CNN Travel. ... It is located in a magnificent Greek Revival mansion. We sat in enormous rockers on the front porch while we waited for a seat. We went on a Thursday for lunch because who would drive out to a little bitty town on Thursday? We found quite a crowd waiting for their turn. It proved to be worth the wait.......fried chicken, seafood casserole, liver and onions, homemade meatloaf, greens, peas, macaroni and cheese, baked onions, sweet potatoe souffle and fried green tomatoes.... homemade cornbread and biscuits, pecan pie, peach cobbler, peanut butter pie, to die for chocolate cake, lemon pie and on and on.....too much to list everything. After that we drove to Madison for a walking tour. Madison is referred to as the Antebellum Jewel of Georgia - the city General Sherman refused to burn. The old homes and churches are impressive with many dating back to the 1830's and 40's. We came upon the minister of one of the black churches mowing the lawn and he took us on a private tour of the Calvary Baptist in 1833 by the white congregation and later sold to the black congregation.

I must say a few words about something referred to as the American Cockroach. If you want to see one for yourslef, click on this link. These might be a little bigger than the ones we have encountered but not too much bigger. Our first encounter with these creatures was in the Panhandle of Texas. They come out after dark. They don't like the light. If you flip on a light switch, they scurry for cover. The other night I thought I say a mouse run across the floor. Larry got up and opened the screen as it headed for the was a roach. Don't read too much about these creatures. They like it dark and humid and they can be found in clean homes, contrary to popular belief. There are also huge beetle-type insects that land on the screens. And then there are the mosquitos. We have not been able to sit outside because in very short order they swarm all around you in a cloud. We can't forget the lowly chigger or red bug... tiny insects that live in the grass and burrow into your skin. Itch, itch, itch, itch, itch. Warning....if you are in the south, do not be lured into the lush green grass while barefoot and socks are in order if you are going to leave the pavement. I have firsthand experience in this area. And whatever you do, DO NOT sit down in the grass. It will be so tempting. Another insect that folks talk alot about but we have yet to encounter is the fire ant. We we can skip that one but we still have a few more weeks in the south so who knows. Bigotry and racism are still alive and well. It is not uncommon to hear folks use the "N word". Things have changed a great deal since I was a young girl in the south like, "white folks" and "black folks" use the same restrooms and eat in the same restaurants. There are even some nicer mixed neighborhoods but generally speaking, the ethnic groups congregate in their own little "villages" or neighborhoods. Atlanta is probably the most ethnically diverse area we have ever visited. There are people here from all over the world. Things will change a great deal in this part of the country over the next decade or two.

Now let's talk about a few of our favorite things......we love the fireflies.....some folks call them lightning bugs in this part of the world. They come out at dusk and spread their little twinkling lights throughout the trees until the next light of day. Are they there during the day and we just can't see them? It is quite magical. This is home to the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly as well as 4 other species of Swallowtail. My personal favorite is the black swallowtail. They float on the air from tree to tree and flower to flower. On warm summer afternoons the forest is alive with the sounds of the cicada. In the evening we are serenaded by the tree frogs, crickets, more cicadas and the call of the great horned owls in the neighborhood. This is home to the Cardinal, perhaps the most beautiful bird in the east. They are like bright red beacons in the green leaves of the trees. By far our most favorite natural wonder has been the spectacular thunderstorms. We are sitting in the most perfect location for a storm. This house rests atop a high bluff above the wide river canyon of the Chattahouchee and the thunder rolls and rumbles up and down the canyon. It sounds like a giant somewhere in the clouds.... bowling. We have heard claps of thunder that vibrate the house and hurt our ears. The rain pours down and and the wind whips through the trees. We stop everything just to watch until it is over. The air is filled with the smell of raindrops on hot pavement and steam rising up. The insects and birds fall silent until it is over. For the history buff this is a great place to visit but we would recommend the early spring or fall. The summer is just too hot to enjoy touring around. If your favorite color is green, this is a definite destination.

We barely scratched the surface of things we would have liked to do and may come back this way again someday. It won't be in the summertime. What I can say, we are glad we came but we wouldn't want to live here. We head west next week via Alabama and Texas. From there we will head to the state of Oregon for our second housecarer assignment in Beaverton which is near Portland. We stopped and visited briefly with the next two homeowners we'll be housesitting for. Actually, the third and longer assignment will be a farm sit... out in the country. We are really looking forward to that. We will report from the road. Every library we have visited has had great internet access and they have been kind enough to let someone passing through have a bit of time. Happy trails until next time. Larry & Charlotte