Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mr.O'Hara and me

I am reading the authorized sequel to "Gone With The Wind," which is called ,"Scarlett." I must say that I find it to be as intiguing as the original.

My family and I first saw the movie at the Hunter Theater in New York and I don' think I have ever gotten over it.I was 17.The scene at the train depot with all the bodies ,spread out as far as the eye could see, was terrible.And then there was Tara. Home.Where Scarlett headed when she,Rhett ,Melanie and her baby escaped Atlanta and the invading Yankees.The horrific fire and explosions.And then home to Tara, the lovely plantation of her family.

The original Tara was in fact the plantation of Margaret Mitchell's great-grandparents, the Fitzgeralds of Clayton County,Georgia.We have lived on the original 3,000 acres for the last 20 years and never knew it.A very informative tour of Stately Oaks, a refurbished Civil War plantation near downtown Jonesboro, led us to this revelation.We live on two acres that borders the Flint River flood plain where Margaret and her brother used to play as children when they went South from Atlanta for the summer.

The original building was taken apart and it sits under blue tarp somewhere in Clayton County, waiting for the money to be donated to bring it back to life.

Of all the towns in this country that we could have moved to when we left New York, we came to Jonesboro.And Tara.

When I wander around our small parcel,the wind whispers through the pines.The white rue anemone and the violet wild geraniums nod under the pink native azaleas that are tall and unnoticed until Spring. It is then that I can hear that old Irishman, Mr.O'Hara.He is telling his beloved daughter, Katie Scarlett ," It's the land,Katie, the land.It's the only thing that lasts or matters.The land." And I feel chills all over, again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

old friends and gaps

Last month, inspired by a story that I wrote of my childhood , I decided to try to locate an old friend .We hadn't seen each other for over 38 years.I found her on "switchboard" in Florida and I sent her a letter.Two days later , my mail box contained an envelope with writing that I would have known anywhere.My dear friend.In bold print she described how she had prayed for help to find me! Wow!
Rosemary and I met when we were ten years old in the old neighborhood on Long Island.It did not go well.We met on the lawn of a neighbor and sized each other up.We were both very atheletic and competitve.Without saying anything about it we vied for athletic excelllence and recognition not to mention boys.We went to the same high school but had different friends.Later, in college ,we became closer and she was an honored part of my wedding.
I have a picture in black and white of us standing in front of the small ,white ,clapboard church in Allaben,N.Y.We had gone to the mountains for a 2 week vacation with my parents.We are eleven years old.She is plump and smiling and I am skinny and grimacing.
This summer, my dear friend and her husband, will visit us again in the Catskill Mountains.We have had two successful meetings since we found each other and we will once again pose for pictures in front of that church as we did 55 years ago.What a blessing.
What is most remarkable to me is the similar gaps in our lives.My only sibling died in December 2008 and my dear friend and her sister are estranged.I realize that if I hadn't followed the urging to write that short story of my childhood,none of this would have happened.I cannot explain what holy writing is but I recognize it when it happens.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I recently have come by some small treasures; one is a pen and ink drawing that represents Mundy's Mill, which used to be a working mill here in Clayton County.I bought corn meal there when my children were very small and made muffins.The mill is gone but they saved the wheel and it is on the grounds of Mundy's Mill High School.I found this wonderful drawing at the Goodwill Store near us for five dollars.After some sprucing up ,it hangs by my front door.
The other item was also five dollars .I found it on-line at a shop in Vermont.It is a white tile with a black drawing of my 5th great-grandfather's house in Guilford,Vt.He lived there in 1772 and the house still stands.It is pink now but somehow that is all right.It is a stunning colonial house.He was Gov.Benjamin Carpenter,and a Revolutionary War hero.This summer I intend to visit his grave in Vermont and have a chat and bow to honor his bravery.
When I worked at the Bellsouth building in Jonesboro,Georgia I used to jog to the Confederate cemetery and pick up trash ,all the while thinking,"What is a Yankee doing in this cemetery ?"The history of it always touched me.It seemed like sacred ground.
I was a history major in college in New York but never "used" it in my subsequent career.The love of it has come back in surprising and very satisfying ways.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


To those closest to me,it is not news that my sister and I were estranged.Per her desire, we had not spoken for four years.Last October, found her dying unexpectedly.She was 68 years old.
I went into her hospital room with great misgiving , not knowing how I would be received.I grabbed her very cold hand and showed her a picture of my granddaughter and we again became a family.I treasure every second of the time I spent at her side,little though it was.
I found the following in a book that I have been recently reading and it stunned me."For families will not be broken.Curse and expel them ,send their children wandering ,drown them in floods and fires and old women will make songs out of all these sorrows and sit on porches and sing them on mild evenings.Every sorrow suggets a thousand songs and every song recalls a thousand sorrows and so they are infinte in number and all the same."- "Housekeeping",Marilynne Robinson
Since her passing in mid December, I have had three dreams about her.In each one, she and I are laughing or smiling and she makes it very clear to me that she is at peace.Indeed nothing divides families.