Monday, September 3, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This is the first summer in six years I have stayed home (well, July and most of August). I didn't travel to teach or speak or what-not, and I gave myself the gift of home. My family gave me the gift of themselves. What loveliness. Here is some of what I did.

I gardened.
I've lived in Atlanta for three years now, and I finally have gardens. I didn't even try to tackle the red-clay Georgia soil. Two years ago I started building raised beds, right in the front yard, where the sun is. I filled them them with good, dark dirt and compost and leaves. And this summer we had magnificent moments of beauty, even as I battled the whiteflies and drought.

My friends Doc and Bill built a porch for the front of my little house in the little woods. It's almost finished --

Friend Jim Williams finished the kitchen renovation. This is my favorite view -- into the woods!

Friends came from far away -- this is our friend Jen with my son Zach (also known as DJ Veda).

Nearby friends came to supper on the back porch and shared stories.

We shared music, too:

Went to New Orleans with Jim, my sweetie. Visited with friend and fellow Harcourt author Coleen Salley -- she's coming along steadily after a hip replacement in June. Here's Jim with Coleen:

And then, that sweetie Jim Pearce and I got married. Yes, we did! July 30, at the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur, Georgia. My kids came with us. Friends came to our home for pot luck afterward. They brought guitars and casseroles (including black-eyed-pea salad!) and we had an evening of songs and words and even a little dancing as we celebrated together. It was a moving, memorable day of family and friends, laughter and (tender) tears.

I moved from Maryland to Atlanta three years ago, in part to live 2 miles away from Jim instead of 650, in part to come home to the Southland as a writer, and in part to create a home from which my family would begin again as well. My youngest-of-four Hannah had just graduated from high school in 2004. Now she's beginning her senior year at Oglethorpe University here in Atlanta.

So. I stayed home this summer. I climbed Stone Mountain. I ate real tomatoes. I slept like a baby. I wrote, strong and steady. I researched the next book. I reconnected with family and friends. I'm just about ready for The Book Tour. Come with me! Here's the Harcourt webpage for THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS -- it's beautiful, isn't it? You can read an interview I did with Harcourt, and you can read the first chapter of ALL-STARS here.

And before I let you go -- tell me: How did you spend your summer?