Monday, February 25, 2008

a breath of spring

One of the things I miss the most about living in the South is the breath of spring that comes right about now. Living in Dayton, where the air is filled only with snow and ice, where every exhalation freezes almost as soon as it leaves on the wings of my breath, it's hard to imagine that spring will EVER arrive. And it's even harder to forget that not long ago I was living in a place where life would begin anew towards the end of February, where the earliest of spring blossoms would poke through the cold ground, where the urge to till the earth and make things grow would be easily fulfilled in less than a month's time. Last year, in Dayton, I don't think it felt like Spring until April. And probably not until the end of April, at that. And so as I anticipate another month or more of this interminable cold, I must deal with this intense cabin fever and the stir crazy desire to shed the winter clothes and frolic on some sun-filled beach somewhere, soaking in sunshine and the sweet smell of warmth and tranquility born on sea breezes. So I content myself with a glimpse of what Spring looks like in places I've been. And I share them with you, in the hopes that you will soon see winter's surrender, and spring will again be born in your direction on the freshest of warm winds.

Spring in Cades Cove and the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

warming the heart and the soul

Have you ever lived in a place - whether it's your home town or the town you now call home -that you connected to so intimately that every time you left you couldn't wait to go back? Perhaps this only happens as it did to me, in retrospect. But the reality is that it happened. And no matter where I go, where I live, where I travel to, every single time I come back to the Carolinas, for work or for pleasure, I grin from ear to ear. I don't really understand it. Home is where I live, but it's not always where my heart is. My heart seems to always be in the Carolinas. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that every time I go back, the weather is awesome. And I am sure this is part of it. But on my most recent trip last week to Charleston, SC, I was struck by this repeated and almost bizarre reaction to a "place." I literally got off the plane in Charleston and, turning my face up to the sun, immediately felt lighter and liberated. This may have been a bit of Vitamin K deprivation thanks to the zero temps and gray skies overlaying Ohio when I left, but that's not the only thing. I couldn't wait to shed my clothes (and I mean that in the most tame way) and turn my white limbs pink in the summer-like temps.

I spent the first afternoon wandering around downtown, had lunch on a rooftop terrace, enjoyed the 70 degree sunshine and inhaled the fragrance of flowers blooming around every corner. I was delighted by the new stems of spring plants shooting out of garden patches and the birds sending their songs high up into the air. And then, because it can only get better, I traveled South to Edisto Island for a work retreat. And once again I found my heart, sitting in the sand and pressed against the opening of a shell, listening to the echo of every beat. I spent two glorious days, sunrise to sunset, on (or near) the beach. While some of it was spent at work, as it must be on a work retreat, long walks and photographic moments began and ended each day. I left slightly sunburned with a glow already fading as I basked in the sunshine for one last moment as I boarded the plane from the tarmac.

The temperature today in Dayton was 18 degrees and a layer of ice fell over everything. I consoled myself by wading in the memories of warmer days and balmy breezes left behind not so long ago. Someday I will live again in the Carolinas. And though I was not born there, and though I have no ties other than heartstrings to the South, I do believe it will always be home to me.

for a complete look at all the images, go to


Edisto Island