Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

June 13, 2004 004

Buck and I built our cottage here just over three years ago. We have spent the last seven summers in North Carolina’s Rice Cove. This is our first June here at Longleaf. I grew up in Florida summers and know them well. Still, it’s a shock.

The temperature is nearly 90 degrees, and so humid my glasses steam up when I walk outside. It rained several inches yesterday and there have been flash flood warnings today.

We walked for an hour yesterday, wandering through a gauntlet of showy bead tongue colonies, which are much prettier than the name suggests. We marveled at the thick stalks bursting upward from last year’s planted pines, and the “me, too” effervescence of this year’s seedlings.

Beads of sweat running down my spine turned into a rivulet. Clearly, my medium long thick hair has got to go. Tomorrow. The air felt too thick and moist to breathe.

And yet — my eyes, which have been swollen and red due to allergies from the beautiful hayfields in North Carolina, are almost back to normal, no long itching and crusting.

And everywhere, flowers I have never seen before; flowers that only emerge in this wet, tropical season. They are surprising me with their paint box welcome.

It’s home, and I thrill to each new discovery. The southern fox grape, or scuppernong, vines have covered acres of woodland, tiny grapes have formed up, and are swelling with juice. I get so excited, I begin to babble about making scuppernong wine. Buck casts a sidelong glance in my direction, raising an eyebrow as if to check on whether my brain has begun to simmer in the heat.

June 13, 2004 001

Some of the most beautiful wildflowers are Thumbelina-sized, like this Milk-Pea.

June 13, 2004 007

We walked and talked, Maggie’s tongue hanging out, but staying with us. When we reached the spring, she gratefully lowered herself until the cool water touched her belly. I want to plant fig trees and Buck wants a grape arbor, and as we talked, an idea emerged for a sort of fruit salad of trees and bushes near the (to be built) pool. I can only imagine how happy the raccoons and possums will be when they hear that news.

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