Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring… and ring
– Stable song, Gregory Alan Isakov
The magic box
We’ve been trawling estate sales, relocation sales and yard sales with increasing enthusiasm for what we might find. There’s something voyeuristic about walking through the leftovers of someone else’s life. It’s also an amazing treasure hunt. Sometimes you only find dust and ghosts. Other days you get lucky. We’ve bought life vests and a keyboard, a skateboard, a camp coffee maker and several of our kids’ favorite toys, all for about $30 in total – a real bargain. One rainy Sunday the kids found a “box of stuff”.
Initially I didn’t want a big box of little things to step on, but it was $2 and Xman really wanted the pair of kid binoculars that “really works, Mom!” After all, the sign read, in what I like to think of as Southern Charm Font: “do not separate”. Sometimes, where I see coal, my kids see diamonds. So off we went with our $2 box of stuff and a definitely not complete $1 megablocks pirate ship.
It turned out to be a box of magic. The kids spent most of the day digging and playing and discovering. It was just perfect for a very wet and windy early Autumn Sunday. We found Belle and Beast, Iron man, a talking chipmunk and an army of hoppy frogs. There was a (toy) scorpion that I threw across the room when it started moving in my hand (one of those wind up/spring-loaded things – it gave me a genuine fright). The kids thought that was hilarious. After they ran away.
Turning into pumpkins
Winter takes all the color out of the landscape and leaves a stark, bleak scene that’s fitting for the set of The Following. The sky is bleached to an almost translucent blue that reminds me of the glare of white hospital walls under clinical hospital light.
The transformation from summer to winter, however, is spectacular. In a reverse alchemy the landscape transforms from shades of green to a kaleidoscope of gold, bronze, red, yellow and orange.
America goes pumpkin crazy. The early launch of the PSL (Starbuck’s pumpkin spiced latte) was announced on CNN (for the record, there were more important newsworthy events that day). You can buy pumpkin spiced M&Ms, pumpkin beer and pumpkin spice hand soap. There are a million different ways to get your pumpkin spice fix. There are also fall festivals, BBQ tasting, corn maze exploring, pumpkin picking and hayrides. Oh sweaters and jeans, how I have missed you!
My favorite seasonal pick-your-own activity is apple picking (for Fall, because in winter we get to pick our own Christmas tree and there is nothing that beats that!). We drove up to a little mountain town called Flat Rock, NC to pick our own apples, drink apple slushies and eat freshly made apple cider donuts. So, so good.
Of course we’re back in a comfortable school run / homework / extra mural rhythm. My end of summer road trip memories of the beach and killer whales and Mickey Mouse are becoming vague. Soccer has been replaced with cub scouts. Babybelle started a two-day a week preschool. Xman was promoted to a high white belt in taekwondo. I just turned another year older. We survived the masked mob that is Halloween.
On being local
You know you are no longer “new” when you start running into people you know at the grocery store. I usually look my absolute worst at the grocery store. Sometimes the best time to run an errand is in the gap between bootcamp and picking Babybelle up from school. (State: messy appearance, but absolute mental zen.)
I recently met up with a Saffa friend in NYC for a girl’s weekend (best present ever!). She burst out laughing at me in the middle of a not that amusing sentence. What she found so funny was that apparently I’ve started losing my accent, but only certain words and phrases. I hear this is a rather common phenomenon. I did expect to lose some of my accent. Sometimes it’s a necessary survival skill (see: wah-duhR. Also, try buying batteries. At first I was confused at the blind panic on the cashier’s face in the store at my simple request. Until I realized: baDDery. For future reference, I cannot get myself to actually say baDDery, but I may compromise my linguistic values in an emergency.) But I absolutely refuse to compromise on zebra. My tongue baulks at the idea of saying zEEbra. It’s zeh-bra.
Speaking of pronunciation. South Africa, we really have to talk about renaming biltong. I am not suggesting calling it South African jerky. (The word jerky totally lacks any appetite appeal). However, when we (Saffas) say biltong, Americans hear “bull tongue”. And who wants to taste that?!
We’re heading to Joburg for Thanksgiving. (Rather unexpectedly. A family matter.) I am really looking forward to our visit. How much has changed? Will Joburg still feel like home? Have people changed? For the better? Will I have to face some personal demons? Probably. Has America changed me? Probably. I believe for the better.
Even if it means my accent is a little funny now.