Thursday, March 27, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

For those of you who have read this before, I am sorry to have to expose you again.
I just can't help it because I am sad tonight. I miss Georgia. I miss Aaron's grandmother Tudy and caramel cake and bugs that plaster my windowshield as we drive to the farm. I wrote this right before we moved here in 2005--and nothing describes my feelings more. Can you believe it was published in a local newspaper there? I can see so many grammatical errors now, but that is what becomes of not knowing my friend Cortney at the time and my constant battle with past vs. present. Oh well... this blog is a journal of here are my feelings at 3:36am...

Brianna and her cousin Sydney at the Shippey Farm

photo taken by Carmella Stroud

The Farm
By: Carrie Brown Stroud
Granddaughter-in-law of Mrs. Elizabeth Shippey of Morgan, Ga

I'm a Yankee turned Rebel. My husband, born and raised in the South, would yelp and holler at the knowledge of my little secret. My deep Southern secret. So deeply rooted inside my heart that unless I leave this red clay behind me quickly, I might just grow and bloom. I have lived here in Georgia for five years. Short years in retrospect, but long years to me full of culture shock, changes, and growth. I have had to learn to shift my fast pace, talk a little slower, and love boiled peanuts. All against my Yankee will. And yet today, as I walk outside the house into the muggy air and view this vast farming land, I want to be nothing but a Southern Belle.

I can close my eyes and picture every wall, every knickknack and photo at this farm. Every cupboard and cranny shouts its inhabitants from past and present. A Southern grandmother's home, welcoming every footstep and Christmas card. Comfort food for the soul. This farm, the Shippey Farm, located on three hundred and thirty-two acres of Georgia dirt is one of the greatest hands on accomplishments I have ever had the privilege of seeing. Papa Shippey, my husband's grandfather, is no longer here with us, but his hard work visually lives on. His beloved wife Elizabeth who we call "Tudy", remains without her legs and is still ever so self-sufficient. I come here, and do nothing, because she can do everything.

This house was built by their strong hands in the year nineteen forty- nine. I believe it hasn't changed much. It's history echoes off these pale green walls without the help of a narrator. Modestly furnished and uniquely arranged, every photograph, cross- stitch and afghan tells a story. A story of love.

The drive here is peaceful. Fields and pecan trees flourish outside our car window as we drive to Tudy's house...Home. My husband points out which fields are cotton and I (thankfully) know which ones are corn. My daughter Brianna yells over and over, "there's irrigation. They water plants and make them grow big and tall." We pass the crazy country store and the church with the annual Easter breakfast. Then we look to our right and see the farm. Not a red barn or a chicken coup squawking with the laying of eggs. Instead, we view a simple rectangular white house with a screened in porch. And we know our beloved Tudy sits in her wheelchair inside the house awaiting our arrival. We are greeted with a hug and a stove full of Southern cooking. The meal always consists of something in gravy with at least four cooked vegetables. I have grown accustomed to sliced tomatoes as a side dish, but I admit that collard greens are still a bit foreign to my liking.

No worldly obligations can touch us here. No cell phones work and no internet captures and keeps our attention. All focus turns to watching the Atlanta Braves and listening to Tudy play her sweet harmonica. The stories she tells, the history of her family, is enough to make you crave to relive those moments with her and in the same breathe desire nothing but the comforts of your own time. I can't help but smile fondly when I am in this house. I always laugh as the bed creaks and whispering is heard beyond the next wall. Quiet is not a state of being here. There are crickets chirping close outside and a CB radio always recites the small town traffic news. It is peaceful yes, but quiet, no. Yet, I go to sleep here effortlessly night or day. Perhaps it is the lack of worldly pressure, or maybe it is the history of old inhabitants in every room that slows me down. Whatever it is, this farm-like state of being, I welcome and succumb to its rest.

I forget until I come back again what it means to see the stars at night. To really see the stars. Without lights or distractions to block your heavenly view. Here at the farm, you can see the sky as if it were an open book with big bold letters and pictures. Blue or cloudy or diamond studded, it is simply waiting to be read. Activities inside the house are also a story of their own. Every holiday appears to look like Thanksgiving. More food than people present. This feast I admit took me awhile to get used to. But now, macaroni and cheese made with spaghetti noodles and sweet potato soufflé would seem odd if not included in the same bite. We pick corn from across the street and boil it for dinner as though we were pioneers. Straight from the dirt and into our mouth. However tasty it actually is, it's wonderful because "my gosh, it's Southern!"

My husband relishes in his ancestry, fondly speaking of times past. The tractor rides, the summer breakfasts Tudy would prepare and the fishing at their lake is recollected with such fondness. I hear he is proud like Papa, and with reason to be so. My experience here has been short in comparison to his, and yet, it has been filled with some thing to be proud of.

It's simply Southern. That is who you become when you enter that screen door. A Southern drawl is not far from your lips and life without caramel cake in the freezer is unimaginable. You breathe, you sweat, you talk Georgia. And you love every minute of it because it is who you are and all you ever need to become. As we leave each time honking our horn and yelling, "Bye, we love you!" in unison, I realize that nowhere will feel more like home to me than this farm. This dirt, this house, these people drew me in like a moth to a flame. And now, all the bugs, all the heat, and all the grease in the cast iron frying pan could never keep me away for long. Just call me a Rebel.


Nick and Jessie said...

Carrie...I have never been to Tudy's Farm but I would love to go, you explain it so well I think that I just paid Tudy a visit!! I never realized that you missed Georgia. You guys should move back. Nick and I are so lonely up here in ATL we would love to have friends by us again :) John and Angie come and visit ever 2 months or so and we love it when they come up!! Seriously, next time you come back you should come and see us or take us to Tudy's Farm :) Miss you guys!!

Summer said...

I loved your story! It makes me miss growing up in Texas. I would love to go back to those simpler days without a cell phone always going off or having to check my email because an important document is coming in. I miss you guys and hope I can see my "Georgian" friends soon!

P.S. I hate to tell you this but we will be there in November. Would you like to meet us there?!!!!!!

Hillybug said...

Hey you, You do have the cutest family ever and if and when you add to it, the next baby will only add to the beauty of the stroud clan. Love this story, I remember it well. I miss GA alot and it is weird to not have my parents there anymore. We will go back one day and when we do let's all go together! Love you and miss you alot.

-is your husband serious about vegas? he is so funny. you and I need to talk details if we want to make it happen!

Jen O said...

I love this story, Carrie...very vivid and colorful in its imagery. It reminds me of spending summers at my Granny's, falling asleep with the windows open to the chk-chk-chk sound of the big sprinklers out in the alfalfa fields. We're going to GA in May so I'll be thinking of you!

Cortney said...

I read it, again, and have a whole new appreciation for why you loath your current home so much. What a contrast! This place really does sound wonderful! :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't think you liked it here when you lived here Carrie. :) How are you enjoying Washington?

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

This post made me cry! I woke up this morning missing my old home in Georgia, especially now that it is fall. Here in Nevada we just don't have the beautiful colors that Georgia does! I grew up in Byron, Peach County, GA. Right in the middle of peach and pecan orchards. About 15 miles south of Macon.

My husband served his mission there...hmmm, now there's a story. :D

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