Sweet Georgia Green

My first spring in Georgia in 2010 I was out of town for a few weeks in April. When I returned I was hesitating and even making wrong turns trying to weave my way through different routes in my neighborhood. All of the landmarks I used to navigate had vanished. Everywhere I looked was a wall of green. The change was so dramatic that I just did not recognize the landscape. And beyond my neighborhood, some houses on larger properties had completely disappeared.

While I was in Seattle for a week recently, it happened again. I wasn’t losing my bearings this time but I was still struck by the change. Before I left I could see eight neighbors’ houses from my back deck. When I came back, I could see two, the same two I would be able to see all summer because they are on either side of my house. The rest had disappeared…completely. The only way I know they are there is because they occasionally fire up a lawn mower or yell at their dog to “go potty.”

It’s full spring in Georgia and it is beautiful. Fall is my favorite season here, but only by a smidgen. The burst of green, the birds pairing off and defending their territory, which is also my backyard, the peas clamoring to cling to something, anything, in my garden. The darkness of the mid-afternoon shade. I love it.

Yes yes, the mosquitos are coming, as is the humidity. It won’t be long before the only thing showing when I work in the garden are my eyes and my glasses will slide down my nose on a sheet of sweat unendingly. I will bask in the air-conditioning every 30 minutes and I will shed 10 pounds before August.

But I won’t care. I will remember the spring and look forward to fall, like a sophomore who knows nothing and everything at the same time. The sweat will sting my eyes and the bites will itch and I will cuss but I will cuss with a little laughter mixed in because how lucky can one man be? How lucky?

Sweet Georgia green. I loved growing up near the beach, sometimes on the beach, in California. But I have to tell you, my middle age is more suited to a climate that takes and gives in equal measure, a climate that requires my cooperation as much as my surrender, air that requires my active participation beyond simply inhaling and exhaling. I’ll tell you, if you grew up in California and walk out into a July day at noon in Georgia you will not be inclined to assume survival. It’s like a reminder, a reminder I need and appreciate and am grateful to experience. There are places where you can take the air for granted. Not Georgia.

Anything that requires you to be conscious of your breathing is a gift. Anything that requires you to stop and start again is a gift. Anything that forces you to acknowledge that some things are bigger than you…is a gift. Sweet Georgia green.

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