September 2, 2009

The Whole Catastrophe

After being by myself so much, the arrival of the whole catastrophe was jarring. Aunt Lynne, Uncle David, Mom, Dad, Grandmother, Granddaddy, Zoe, Mihn... it was a full house. I find myself very tired now that almost everyone has left. I retreated to my room a great deal, which was tolerated. I enjoy everyone being here for the stories it stirs up--stories about the family, about my grandparents' childhoods, about the people they knew and the community feuds. We ate fried chicken, butter beans, fried shrimp, black eyes peas, mashed potatoes, biscuits, pot roast, chocolate pie, clams in white wine, crabmeat norfolk, and all kinds of other White family specialities. The day before my parents arrived it seemed like the house was buzzing. R.C. and his wife, Joyce, arrived to clean up the yard and mow the lawn and deadhead the flowers, and Golores spent 5 hours cleaning the house from top to bottom. It was strange to be here before everyone came, when there seemed to be this upstairs downstairs dynamic and everyone was in such a hurry to get the place in ship shape shape. I didn't really know what to do with myself except make coffee and try not to get underfoot.

Everyone seemed well enough--more emotional, perhaps, then in years past, but I'm realizing more and more that there was probably a wealth of drama constantly going on that I simply could not detect as a child or bother notice as a self-centered teenager. Everyone is happy that I am here, though concerned and maybe a little confused. I guess not all twenty-three year old Californians want to move to rural Virginia just as they're supposed to be striking out on there own in the great wide world.

I haven't seen the raccoon babies since Zoe arrived and am worried about them. I hope they are surviving, adorable little stripe-y softball creatures. Raccoons make sounds like branches creaking, and no one else seems to know what I am talking about when I say that. Maybe I haven't mentioned them before. The babies would come twice a day, morning and dusk, to steal figs from the fig trees in the yard. Grandmother told me to shoot them (she's very protective of her figs) and R.C. said, Put some food scraps out in the dingle. That'll keep the coons out of your figs. As soon as Zoe arrived she chased one of the babies into the water, where it swam around for a good hour before vanishing. The swan family appeared two days ago for the first time in a week and came right up to the yard. They were enormous, and intimidating, and very pretty. The seven swanlings are not very elegant. Their necks are rather woobly, as opposed to graceful. They look like snakes floating in big feathery boats. They wiggle their behinds when they eat.

People are beginning to recognize me on the island, which is comforting. I get a full raised-hand-wave, as opposed to the customary one-finger-who-the-fuck-are-you-wave. Colby is coming to visit. He'll arrive Saturday night. I am trying not to be too ridiculously excited, because it seems like it would be bad luck. I think I may be starting to catch some of the superstition floating around here. According to the grandparents superstition was a huge part of Mathews life when they were children. My personal favorite (of many) superstitions: on New Years day a woman cannot come to your house first. Apparently this was of such grave importance that my Great Grandmother Hudgins would invite a half dozen men over for breakfast at dawn on New Years Day, simply to ensure that no woman would arrived first. My Granddaddys mother would bribe a neighboring boy over at one past midnight with a gift for the exact same purpose. Now does that make any sense at all to you? You have to wonder what awful happening gave rise to this particular ritual in the first place. Black eyed peas, also, were a New Years must.

1 comment:

  1. I just ran across your blog today. I want to read it all. I see it has been over a month since your last post. I hope you will continue your writing.