North Carolina Summer
This has been my North Carolina summer. Too busy to plan anything more complicated I have gone back and forth between the mountains and the coast soaking up my favorite part of the year.
I could live in perpetual summer, and look askance at all those people who tell me they can’t wait for fall. It’s the light, I think. I like the bald bright warmth of it that illuminates all corners, but also makes for overwhelming experiences of shadow. I like the light when I’m floating on my back in the pool and looking up at the untroubled sky. I like the light as the sun travels over the ocean, lemon or dove gray at morning, and lavender at dusk. And in the mountains I seek the southern exposures where it seems to me the light has a tangerine warmth once you emerge from under the darker dappled canopy.
This summer the ruin (https://elizabethbradford.com/blog/in-praise-of-june/) has been especially beautiful and there have been many suppers enjoyed there. I came up with a roasted red pepper soup that I’ve been serving as a starter…this summer’s signature dish. Last summer it was homemade sorbets and ice creams. It’s become clear that the ruin lends itself well to several courses, extending the length of time we have an excuse to stay outside talking into the descending night. My guests and I always pretend we’re far far away. A little bit of imagination transportation.
Just now, I’m perched on a deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and it’s one of those days when the water is navy and the sky is pale. Dense shadows are cast by the plants on the dune. The sea oats are very tall and lush this year.
I spent most of the day under my giant Japanese umbrella, reading on the beach. It feels almost athletic, like stretching out physically, to read all day like that. How many books have I devoured in this way? I take the occasional break from reading to watch the water rise up to build a wave. Over and over the light shines through it, exposing a whole school of fish suspended as if in a sheet of jade green glass.
There’s very little wind up here on my deck perch. This is a favorite place for writing and for reading, with so few distractions beyond the view. It was here some years ago that I started writing again…a little book that seemed to arrive on gull wings. I spent that trip splitting my days between writing and painting. The painting was a still life– I think I titled it “Supper at Pine Knoll Shores”. It was a portrait of a watermelon and a blue crab, keeping company with an ear of corn, against a backdrop of sea and sky.
I’ve had fine times here with my family and friends. Lots of cooking and talking and watching the sea. Painted lots of pictures here. So it’s not only fun being here, but it’s also loaded with the echoes of older fun. I heard a comedienne tell a joke, from a homeless woman’s point of view, to an audience full of the affluent. She referred to the less privileged of them as “second homeless”. Getting geared up to leave this place, I’m embarrassed to admit I can relate to that description. I always suffer when I have to get in a car, turn my back on the beach and drive away. It’s always grievous. When my children were little they used to revolt like it was deeply tragic when it was time to get in the car and head west. They were child-wise enough to know what they were giving up… life as close to Eden as it gets in the summer in North Carolina.
In another day I will pack my things and head back to the farm. Maybe there will be another mountain journey before cold weather arrives. But there won’t be any place as hammock-and-book-ready, or where the summer food is better, or where more layers of years of good times are piled up on top of one another all echoing at once.