April 2018

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heather's Book

Ann and I spent last week at Emerald Isle, a beach in North Carolina, with my parents, Sister Jen and her family, and Brother Matt and his family.

This place is as beautiful as any place I've been, with long white sandy stretches that are flat enough for walking, water that is grey or brown or green or blue--or all of those--depending on its mood. Waves crash with that rhythmical regularity that's mesmerizing. Sea oats wave in the dunes' breezes.

It's the one week each year that we gather together as we have since my parents' children were Gretchen's age, five, and skiing on the sound whenever we could. It's a time when we relax together. Someone's always reading; someone's napping; someone's eating; someone's on the beach. We're together.

It's our annual pilgrimage when we gather to remind each other that we are family, and we are here for each other.

This year, Sister Jen read aloud to me the novel, Under the Mercy Trees, by my childhood friend Heather. Heather's Owensby family, a dysfunctional lot living in the North Carolina mountains, became part of our family this year. They're dysfunctional, but they're endearing, and I'm glad they came along with us.

The novel's beautifully written. Here are a few snippets:
In describing a copse of bent trees, a young woman records, "Some trees had rotted and laid down tired in the undergrowth, but some still sat....eight ladies murmuring a welcome.... She wondered if the ladies minded the kinks in their trunks as they remembered the trauma that bent them, or had they gotten on with things....Maybe we'd grow crooked, too, if we got hit in the middle by a storm" (19).

Later in the story, another character remarks, "Bacon is a gift from God." Heather attributes this thought to the character Hodge, but I know it's really Heather.

The book's a gift, as is the beach. I recommend both the beach and the book to you. The book is cheaper.


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