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.