Out in the great wide yonder
We hadn’t driven up into Melissa and Pank’s driveway in over a year. We knew to look for the weeping willow tree that grew tall and unruly in order to find her house in the dark. It had been a long lovely day already but my energy was ready to meet hers.
The girls knew exactly where they were and ran up the concrete steps waiting for Pank to open the front door. Like visiting family, there’s joyous greetings and instant stir of magical energy. Melissa was running around her kitchen moving fried chicken with a wooden spoon in a yellow cast iron pot while finding a box of treats for the dogs. There were amazing hugs given and a beer was placed in Patrick’s hand. “Sugar, I’m so happy for you two! Pank, they will be an old married couple like us.”
Melissa had received a call from me earlier that afternoon as I told her that I had just been proposed to after a long hike at Percy Warner Park in Nashville. Not only was I completely surprised but he did it the week we got to celebrate it with the ones who are my humans.
Our spend the night party had already been decided on weeks prior and only Patrick knew what the main point of conversation and celebration would be that Sunday night.
There was champagne poured and round sliced cornbread waiting for us at the community kitchen table. Melissa had met with an editor that night who spent months learning about the art of shucking oysters so she shared her learnings with us! Raw oysters and cornbread and champagne is the most perfect way to celebrate an engagement. Oh! and also a jig of George Dickle whisky.
“You must go see your bedroom” she urged. Its the same bed I had slept in years prior when I stayed with Melissa for Thanksgiving without a loved one in sight. Patrick and I turned the vintage metal doorknob and I screamed with delight. Used with practically a dozen red roses petals, a large heart was made in the middle of the bed. Pank accented the creation with stuffed turtle. He was tipping his hat to our pets Ferdinand and Francine who awaited our return back in Florida.
“Awwwww, Shit, someone open the door, I burnt the chicken!” Melissa is holding the fire-hot yellow pot with Crisco covered blackened breasts. Patrick runs to the screened-in back porch door and flies it open. She takes a few quick steps out and places it on their back yarden’s mesh fire pit. Coraline and Delilah remember this yarden well. The open door has them also running out to the third of an acre fully fenced in yard that has now been converted into a well planned out garden. Sprouting corn rows act as a privacy fence protecting from their ornery neighbor. Then there are carrots, banana peppers, three varieties of tomatoes, okra, bell peppers, cow peas, squash, and bloomed amaranth that shows off its rich burgundy hues. Being that summer months had come to its end and the yarden was a tad crispy the love that went into creating it could still be seen by the next morning.
We went to bed full and happy.
After the sun rose, I still though made room for eggs and the best damn biscuits I have ever had in my life. Patrick even brought them up again last night and we have been back in Florida for a week. I’ve come to realize that while I’m with Melissa and surrounded by her hospitality, it is as if I’m in a constant Instagram photo. You know, the ones you see where everything almost looks too good to be true. I realized this while I sipped coffee at their long farm table out on the screened in back porch and watched butterflies gather their wares from white honeysuckle looking flowers. The corn stalks swayed with the breeze and the bright sun peered its way through the fig tree’s branches.
We all watch Coraline prance around through the grass, convinced her bright and joyful spirit will be slowed due to tummy troubles. I had mistakenly let her out in the wee morning hours alone. Five minutes later, I returned to find her looking bashful near the fire pit. She decided upon herself that the burnt not fully cooked chicken would be an ideal morning inhale. Thankfully, Delilah who does not have a stomach of steal is too short to have joined in with the confiscation. (Due note that Coraline did release the hounds in Patrick’s parent’s yard prior to our drive back down south).
Our day continued by driving out to Melissa’s parents home in Clarksville, Tn. I feel renewed seeing the hints of autumn highlighting accents within the trees. The last time they saw me, they allowed Delilah to eat at their dining room table and lick turkey off her daddy’s plate. At this time their own dog wasn’t allowed inside. Oh, Delilah you have a way about you.
They own acres and acres of beautiful land and we walked while the pups ran ahead. We peered into tobacco barns that were readying themselves for a slow burn and threw sticks for Coraline and Maggie (Melissa’s four legged half sister) into the winding creek. The same creek bank that Melissa and Pank married on six years prior.
Patrick is at home in the country and so am I. I wonder if we will ever return to the true south? We wonder how and where our wedding will take place? When will I jump for my heart’s yearning spirit? Why have I not done it yet?
The questions can continue if I let them. The answers have existed way before the problems arrived. I need to remember all the options we have at our finger tips. Most important, neither of us fear change. So, let us bring up our glasses, clink to the ones we hold so dear and embrace this massive world that brought me Patrick and a moment on a hiking trail passed yonder where I was caught off guard as he held a ring in his hand after saying, “before we take another step, will you marry me?”