I'm writing today from the shade of an ancient crab apple tree. It's still blazing hot, just ask Chuck Norris. I felt the need to write somewhere special. Blaze deserves respect. My hope is I will gain some wisdom through this tree with her gnarled branches and deep roots. The best part of this tree is it keeps the sun out of my eyes.
It's pretty bright in Yamhill. you see it puts off a light, kind of a beacon guiding lost souls. The soil is remarkable. It allows the plants to grow, in turn emitting the life supporting chemical oxygen. Yamhill plants also release an unknown stimulus which inspires hope, faith and opportunity. Don't get nervous on me. It's not a metaphysical thing, but a meta-muse-al thing. There are many muses here who help expel negative thoughts and metaphorical chains that bind you so you can live the life you truly seek.
The young folks call it authenticity. The church goers call it faith. It's normal for people to try on different masks until they figure out what makes them tick. Some figure it out quick, others, well they hit rock bottom. When they hit the lowest point they either go splat or land like a boss, Spiderman style. Even if they land like a boss, it hurts too much to stay down there, soooooo..... like Blaze and the moths they fly towards the light. Yamhill has serious luminescence. The townies may judge the transplants, but Yamhill never will.
Every year they set aside gold for their nest egg. If it was a particularly good year the owners gave them a substantial bonus. They loved living in Alaska. This is where they would raise a family. The work was hard, but their surroundings were magnificent. The vast open space, the wild life, even the persnickety weather of every extreme and the ever haunting wildfires. The good, the bad and the fabulous. It was home.
The regular miners who came up for the season started bringing Blaze books and movies set in the deep south. She devoured them. I'd even say she was obsessed with the southern way of life. The slow living, the food, the people. I imagine she could have taught a course in university about life in the south, both history and present. Well, from her book smarts that is.
Unfortunately that would never come to pass. At the end of the season Andrew was killed in a mining accident. In a sense, she died that day too.
After the funeral, she knew she couldn't remain in her beloved state. The pain of living without Andrew in Alaska was unbearable. Her instinct was to take their nest egg as well as the insurance money and move to Tifton, Georgia. It would be a bittersweet move. She'd make a cross country trip out of it.
While mapping out her route she came across an article about a Chinese lantern festival held on Lake Velvet in a town in the Pacific Northwest called Yamhill. It wasn't just the lanterns which fascinated her, but this would be a rare event when the northern lights would be visible and provide a majestic event. It was a little bit off her course, but it was a guiding light.
The eatery was beautiful. There was patio dining under the striped awnings street side. Inside were tables clothed with linen and matching napkins folded into exotic birds. In the back was a garden, a spectacular garden. It looked like it was reserved for the fairy folk. But it was not, it was however a reservation only seating that was booked a year in advance. Oh, I'll tell you about this place, but not today. Lucy the owner was welcoming to Blaze.
There were lots of tourists in town for the festival. Lucy and the other businesses rolled out the welcome mat. She greeted Blaze and sat her on the patio. They chatted for a bit discussing the evening's events, and some of the sights she should check out. Lucy told Blaze the special of the day, shrimp and grits with huckleberry iced tea. At first she was taken aback with this southern dish, but wasn't surprised. Ever since she stepped foot in this town everything felt right. However, this was the first time eating this dish even though she's read all about it. It was her lucky day.
After lunch she strolled down the streets looking at the shops. It was time she stopped dressing like a miner. A lovely boutique presented itself, so she went inside and bought a lovely floral sundress along with a wide brimmed hat and a pair of strappy sandals. I do declare she looked like a southern belle, or at least she felt like one. Her demeanor changed. The southern charm found its way into Blaze through the power of osmosis. It was eerie. She didn't get an accent, but everything else steeped in her. Graceful, she felt graceful. The funny thing is she always was but never acknowledged it. Funny how being somewhere new brings out what you already possessed.
After strolling through the town she made her way to the park. It was glorious. Smack dab in the middle was an ice skating rink with a fountain in the middle of the rink. Since it was summer it was used for roller skate, roller blades or scooters. She watched awhile then went on her way. Not far from the rink stood the massive May Pole. Cecilia Sidewinder noticed how Blaze stood amazed in front of the landmark. Of course she sidled up to her and began telling her all about the May Day celebrations, spring festivals and the events in town. She was a curt old broad and considered herself the town matriarch.
I swear she was bragging about how she was the unofficial tour guide for the town. Really she was the official nosy rosy and busy body. I'd love to tell you she had a heart of gold. But I don't think she does. Say what you will about Cecilia Sidewinder she knows everything about Yamhill. You just don't want to hear it from her.
Blaze didn't know this of course, but her instinct told her to scream and run away. Fast. Especially since Ms. Sidewinder peppered her with personal questions. Blaze's new found southern charm put a stop to that. This thought process was new to her, but it felt natural. Shaking her head she thought, I'll swannee, now I need a signature color. One good thing came from the conversation, Ms. Sidewinder told her about historic houses surrounding the park. It would make a lovely stroll and get her away from this intrusive woman.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
The White House, no the manor, stood with perfect posture. It did have the help of four wide columns. The front porch was huge and inviting. There also was a deck up top surrounding a crows nest. The view must have been staggering. She stood in front of the house for a long time soaking it in. It felt like the opposite of a horror movie where you wanted to run away. This magnificent structure drew you in. There was a force stronger than her at play. She didn't care, she was daydreaming of how she would be the lady of the manor. How many rocking chairs could she put on the porch without it feeling crowded? Would she serve lemonade, iced tea or mint juleps? Every cell in her body was on high alert.
She didn't want to have the police called on her for stalking so she forced herself to leave. As she headed out a glint of light caught her attention. There was a silver balloon hung on a sign. A for sale sign. Without further ado, she called the realtor and made an offer. They honored her offer. (There's a little ditty that finishes that phrase but it's not appropriate here.)
Stargazing was one of the experiences they loved to share. They talked for hours under the stars about anything and everything. It was where their most intimate conversations happened. For the first time since his death, she felt at peace.
Well, Blaze moved into the manor and began a life. She exuded everything southern. Except the accent like I told you earlier. That would be a lie. People assumed she was from somewhere down south, but she never told anyone that. As a matter of fact she told very little about her past. Blaze was a beacon of light to the townies. I really believe it's because of her slow manner and exceptional listening skills. People were drawn to her like moths to a flame. They would tell her their problems, desires, or just everyday life. Everyone left feeling validated. Dare I say cared for.
If Blaze was working the garden you could bet someone would show up and start helping. And talking. If she was knitting on the porch in a rocking chair. For sure someone would pop by and set a spell. She would host luncheons every now and again, and yes, she would even invite Cecilia Sidewinder. As annoying as she was she felt enormous gratitude towards her for helping her find her house, no her home.
And as irritating as Cecilia was, Blaze was more gracious so people came to her parties even if Ms. Sidewinder attended. They endured the infuriating presence of the town pain in the ass because spending time with Blaze in her warm home was worth the sacrifice. And playing hide and seek from the Sidewinder became a fun pastime.
Look nobody can tell you why exactly, they just say it's a feeling. Like I said earlier, I'm convinced it's her superior listening skills along with her ability not to judge. Oh, and her good ol' fashioned southern charm.
Till next time.