knee-high by the 4th of july

If there's one thing I love, it's Ohio in the summer. It's green, it's lush, and the air is full of mosquitos and sweat. Ok, so I kind of love Ohio in the summer. For about 3 weeks. But I love the summer so much more in the country.

We walked around my dad's garden Sunday evening, looking at the blackberry bushes, the grape vines, the tomato plants, the herbs, and the squash and potatoes and beans. Beyond the garden is a little creek followed by a huge cornfield with a red barn. It's the perfect postcard of Ohio. James and I drove home afterwards on a country road winding between corn and soybean fields dotted with little farmhouses. We've loved living in the city, but I can't wait to move a little farther out. We both grew up in the country and ran to the city as soon as we could, and while we still love it, we both find ourselves yearning for a slower pace. I've learned to find solace in the cornfields in the same way I do in the Carolina beaches and western mountains.

It was Gracie's first 4th of July! Her great-grandma bought her a frilly, patriotic outfit that I couldn't not put her in. Her heart beats true to the red, white, and poo as we had to throw the outfit along with everything in a 1 mile radius in the washing machine after only a few hours in it. We took her to my parent's house and stayed there overnight. We watched The Twilight Zone, ate food from the grill, and she slept in my childhood crib. My insomnia caught up with me again and I was wide awake until 6am, when I finally managed to crash into a fitful sleep until Gracie woke an hour later. I spent the morning curled up on the red couch in my parent's sunroom, trying to nap but not able to. I spent the rest of the day inhaling caffeine while nursing the baby in my dad's recliner and watching Beachfront Bargain Hunt on HGTV. In other news, I'm ready to go buy a beach house.

Speaking of beachy areas, my mom introduced me to a PBS show called A Chef's Life, and I've been marathoning it all day between diaper changes and coffee refills. It's about a couple who open a restaurant in rural, eastern North Carolina, several miles and a few tobacco fields away from where I went to college. It's in a town called Kinston, which I drove through many times on the way to the beach. I would lock my doors and hold my breath until I passed the city limits, as it's not the safest town. I knew I would love the show when the theme song was an Avett Brother's song. The chef, Vivian, wears Old Navy vintage v-neck tees, so I know she's my soul-sister. All their produce comes from farms within a 30 miles radius of the restaurant, which I love. She's currently making homemade wine with a man whose legal name is Gator, and she makes it look so charming I almost wonder why I moved away.

I love Ohio and I have no desire to leave, but four years after moving away, North Carolina is making its way back into my heart. I can't wait until I can take Gracie to see where her dad and I met. I don't miss living in North Carolina, but I miss certain aspects of it. I miss the ECU campus and its old, brick buildings. I miss the long, barren road on the way to the beach. I miss watching thunderstorms roll over the tobacco fields. I miss hunkering down during tropical storms and the pop-up storms at the beach. I miss the fresh seafood and the tall pines in the sandy soil. I'm glad I live 12 hours north, but I'm also glad I have a reason to go back and visit.

It's funny how so often we have to leave a place in order to appreciate it for what it is.


  1. Oh my lord, does that Fourth of July getup Gracie is wearing come in adult woman sizes? Because I think I just found my outfit for next year. Mary Jane shoe-socks included. I COULD CRY. On Sunday I was showing off your Instagram to my friends as if Gracie were my own child. HOPE THAT'S ALRIGHT.

    Avetts/PBS/a cooking show-- ARE YOU ALRIGHT? I know that's a lot to handle, for you especially. I watched an entire season of Food Network Star last weekend, and I won't apologize for it.

    The picture of North Carolina you're painting with your words is making me homesick for a place I've never really been. So-- next summer? All of us? Beach house? I'll bring the sunscreen.

  2. Gracie is SO cute in that patriotic outfit- even if she ruined it shortly after ;) I FEEL this post on so many levels. I drive downtown to work every.single.day and man, I'm just over it! I grew up out in the country too, with cornfields lining the roads I drove to school and I just miss those big open fields/skies. We are hoping to move within the next year or two, but we're both undecided on where that will be. Of course it mostly depends on our jobs- but sometimes I just wanna up and move somewhere I can have a couple chickens... and maybe a horse ;)

    Also- Beachfront bargain hunters is our JAM. I'm addicted.

  3. What Avett song?? I've been in an Entourage hole, so I haven't been watching much else. But I like the sounds of this PBS show? And Old Navy v-necks? Sounds like my kinda thing.

    I like visiting big cities, but I've grown to really love coming home. Or, going to Vermont- yes, the mountains of Vermont. They've won me over in recent years.

    So, I'm totally down for renting a beach house-- just saying.

  4. Wide open spaces make me claustrophobic unless they're on top of a mountain. I'm a city girl through and through. Tell you what - you move to the country, and I'll move back to the city, and then we can visit each other and have the best of both worlds!

    Have Old Navy tshirts gotten any better? Back when I used to buy them years and years ago, they would always shrink length-wise but not width-wise so they'd end up looking like misshapen crop tops, which is not a cute look whether you're 13 or 32.

  5. Love all the green! Oklahoma gets yellow and brown in the summer. Boo to that. Love little Gracie's outfit!

  6. Matt and I ate corn on the cob this weekend and I asked if it was New Jersey corn (which is probably the one good thing that comes from Jersey!) and he said no, Jersey corn probably wasn't ready yet. I said, "Oh yeah, knee high by the fourth of July." And he had NO IDEA what I was talking about. I couldn't believe it. For a second I thought maybe it was just a weird thing my family said but I'm so glad you know about it too! :)

    Looks like you had a wonderful fourth! Your description of NC makes me want to visit there! I was only there once but I was too young to remember. It sounds wonderful!

  7. Ah I can't get enough of that baby and her hair! It's even more full than Penny's was, and she had a ton. I love it. She's so cute and squishy :)

  8. You described my thoughts about moving to the country so perfectly. I also grew up surrounded by cornfields and while I couldn't wait to move to the city (and have truly loved living in the city), the country is definitely calling me back. Summers are definitely when I miss it the most. Here in the city we can only get glimpses of the sun going down between buildings. I miss my parent's place, where the sun dazzles every single evening as it goes down between the big old silo and the fields. I miss the wide open spaces, the black sky dotted with fireflies, slow porch swings and big gardens. Every time I drive out to my parent's place I feel like my soul has a little more room to breathe. Still, I know when/if we move back to the country, I'll at times find myself longing for the city life. I fear we may have set ourselves up to constantly be missing one place or another. I guess that's life though--holding all the places we love in our hearts, wherever we happen to be at the time.

    1. You summed it up perfectly. But really, the fireflies in the country. My favorite part of summer.


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