It is Autumn on the mountain. Trae and I are still living in our rented house on Raven's Den road, and I'm trying my best to soak up the last bits of sunshine and warm color on the trees while it lasts. About half the mornings are frosty now, and we're due for our second real cold spell later this week.
This Saturday I was waylaid in bed, sick with the faintest of colds. Not enough to prevent me from making popovers on Saturday morning or harvesting vegetables from the garden, but enough for me to spend several hours sleeping and reading when not doing the above activities.
I've been reading Marja Mills' book about Alice and Nelle (Harper) Lee in Monroeville, Alabama, the town where my mother's family (of 12 children) grew up. My mother remembers her mother, Suzanne, pointing Nelle out to her as a child in the 1960s. I'd love to travel there one weekend with my mom to see their old house -- if it's still there -- and school and where their enormous Catholic family attended mass. I remember visiting my grandparents in the nearby town Evergreen when I was a kid. They had a yard full of pine trees, and I remember my grandad teaching me how to eat salted watermelon on a hot day and pointing out constellations at night.
Trae and I are still working tirelessly on our new place (well, he more than I at this point). He's built the walls and laid concrete board for tile. I sanded a door for the bathroom and ordered lumber, which was delivered on Friday from Cline Lumber Co. in Dalton, GA. I love that the world is still small enough around here to where you can call up a sawmill and place an order by phone, trusting that their product is as good as they say it is (it was actually better). We're learning all sorts of new skills and lessons in building this studio, and while there are lots of decisions to be made jointly (read: lots of discussion about details with your spouse at 9pm after a full day's work and no supper...), we are getting better at it and getting a lot done, which feels good.
The past month has been full of both deep joy and some painful lows. The day before we closed on our house, one of Trae's elderly kin passed away. A few days after we purchased our new property, we learned that a friend is battling cancer. On the one hand we are happier than we've ever been: full of plans and dreams, raising a puppy and happy to get to work on our new place. But these two events have kept us in check -- remembering that life is short and precious, that we need to squeeze each other a little tighter, be a little more patient, kinder, grateful.
We ate dinner at a neighbor's house on Friday evening, a neighbor we hadn't met yet who lives about a mile away. We stayed up late eating great food and drinking wine and playing music -- had THE most lovely time. How lucky we are, I kept thinking, to live among such great folks and in such a setting. I don't want to take it for granted. Life is too short, too precious.