By Margaret Evans, Editor
Y’all aren’t going to believe this, but lately I’ve grown tired of expressing myself.
(I see you laughing. Stop laughing.)
It’s true, I swear. I actually tried to slink out of writing this very column, but my boss wouldn’t let me. That boss, our publisher, also happens to be my husband, and while he doesn’t ask much of me around the house, he’s surprisingly strict about holding me to this task. When I’ve got no idea what to do for dinner, he’s happy to consider take-out or one of Beaufort’s great restaurants. When I’ve got no idea what to do for this column, he’s like: That’s tough. Now sit down and write.
But I can’t even seem to muster up an interesting Facebook post these days. Not even a feisty comment on somebodyelse’s post. It all just seems so pointless anymore, this thing we call “discourse.” Nobody wants a real conversation, not really, because everybody already knows everything. Of course, what half the people in my life “know” directly contradicts what the other half “know,” and they can’t all be right. But they are all extraordinarily certain about what they know. Meanwhile, I know next to nothing.
So what is there to say?
I would rather read. Or watch TV. Or wander through the Cypress Wetlands Trail. Anything that doesn’t require expressing an opinion. I guess you could say my well’s run dry. It happens. Typically it fills back up again, if I spend enough time reading, watching TV, and wandering through the Cypress Wetlands Trail. But for now, it’s dry as a bone, and there’s this dad-gum page to fill. A stream of consciousness may be the best we can hope for.
Here’s something: I just came off a summer Conroy Book Binge. I spent a couple of months slowly consuming Beach Music – for the first time since its publication in 1995 – for a Lowcountry Book Club Convention session that I will (hopefully) have survived by the time you read this. During those two months, I also read Bernie Schein’s new memoir Pat Conroy: Our Lifelong Friendship, and Cassandra King Conroy’sTell Me A Story: My Life With Pat Conroy, which comes out October 29th. I worried I’d be sick of all things Conroy after this summer book binge, but it had the opposite effect. Turns out Pat Conroy is just as fascinating to read about as he is to read. This bodes well for the future of the Conroy Center and for Pat’s legacy in general.
On the TV front: We’ve been watching Ken Burns’ documentary, Country Music. People are always surprised when I tell them I didn’t grow up with country music. “But you’re from Alabama!” they say, shocked and confused. It’s true, but what can I tell you? My parents preferred classical, show tunes, and cheesy pop. I know every lyric in the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, but I don’t know my Grand Ole Opry. As I write this, we’re only on Episode Four of the Burns doc (1953-1963), but I am absolutely enthralled. It feels like an important American history lesson I never learned in school. As I listened to Peter Coyote tell the story of Hank Williams’ death at age 29, in the back seat of his car, on a cold country backroad – and of his funeral, with all those beloved musicians in attendance, both black and white – I wept for the sad, resilient beauty of my country and its people. I hope all of America is watching this series. We need it.
I’ve also just enjoyed a whirlwind romance with a show called Grantchester, originally on Masterpiece, and now on Amazon Prime. A friend from choir told me I’d like it, and that was an understatement. As much as I’m loving Country Music, this odd Alabama girl feels far more at home in the small English village of Grantchester, circa 1950-something, where lives a handsome priest who solves grizzly murders when he’s not listening to jazz, drinking bourbon, and wrestling with God on all manner of issues. This troubled young priest stole my heart, and so did all the other characters, and I zoomed through four seasons so quickly I barely had time to savor them. Season five does not yet exist, and I’m sad. I miss my small English village.
About the natural world . . . I’ve been wandering in it and reading about it. I keep coming across articles with titles like “The Intelligence of Plants” and “Scientists Discover Trees Have a Heartbeat.” Maybe it’s just because I keep clicking on these articles and reading them, but for me it’s been The Summer of The Tree. It started with an article called “Can Plants Feel Pain?” and came into full bloom with the gorgeous and profound novel The Overstory, which I read with my book club. In a few short months, I’ve gained a whole new perspective on trees, their significance, and their kinship – with each other, and with us. This perspective had been creeping up on me for years, but its arrival on my doorstep feels like a revelation.
Who doesn’t love a revelation? The only problem is that I now have to contend with it. Revelations always require change. Dammit.
I plan to start slow. After all, I’m still in the learning phase. I’ve been meaning to take myself on The Beaufort Tree Walk, a self-guided tour through downtown Beaufort created by the Lady’s Island Garden Club. Somebody left the brochure at my office months ago, and it’s been hiding under a pile of papers on my desk. I spilled coffee on said pile last week, and when I scrambled to clean up the mess, there was the Beaufort Tree Walk booklet, green and gleaming and fairly unscathed.
It’s now on top of a new pile of papers, beckoning to me every time I sit down at the computer. I intend to use it, too, just as soon as things cool off outside.
Which, at this rate, should be sometime around Christmas.