Place Where You Live:

Cowee, North Carolina

Ruby-throated hummingbird.
Ruby-throated hummingbird.

On clear days the light feels more penetrating than a desert sun. A cliché’ Carolina-blue set against reds and burnished pumpkin-hued tree fringes, looking like a graphic for a religious tract or benefit supper. I prefer the foreboding of a pewter sky looming above my southern Appalachia. There is a sharp loneliness in these coves, until you start your phenology log. You obsess over occurrences. If you’re a songwriter, it informs your writing but decreases your interest in humans. Good luck convincing dinner guests that you are paying attention and not looking out the window to see if “Leonard” the big-beaked juvie-cardinal is on the feeder.

The nuthatches and titmouses festooning the limbs hugging our 120 year-old home are oblivious to the notion I must travel to the closest city, over an hour away, to participate in the doings of my own species. City-mice friends bought me a ticket to the Nick Cave film and after, we talk about my waning garden and their taming of ally cats. And despite having to huff my inhaler, I wonder why I live so far out in the country.

There are manifold reasons for the relief and the safety I sense in this place. It has me under its spell. It states that there are yet to be defined mythos and codes and that ‘woad’ rhymes with ‘cold’, if you are really ‘cold’ and that the most dangerous thing in these unglaciated ancient slopes are bipeds. It deems that I could dedicate the rest of my days to watching the ravens or to learning the names of more than 460 spider species I call neighbors.

But today, I’m thinking how not to draw people here because too often they are not here for the beauty, the fertility of the soil or even their families but for a homogeny they couldn’t find, retiring in Florida. Now I wonder, who is the poacher baiting deer up here? I fix to pee on the corn strewn beneath the deer stand, and the Great blue lobelia nods to me. I place a frond on the camouflaged seat.