Monday, December 31, 2007

It's Not Goodbye...

I've brought you some pictures. Pictures of Aurora County: the real Aurora County, Mississippi, which is Jasper County, Mississippi, where my father was born and grew up, and where my stories take place. This is Louin, Mississippi, the real Halleluia of LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER and THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS; this is Comfort's Snapfinger, Mississippi. Look closely and you'll see my grandmother's house (not the pink one) -- she's the real Miss Eula -- and the path that Ruby takes from the house to town.

I grew up summers here. These pictures were taken in July. Louin was a thriving town in the Thirties before the Depression hit. It was a tiny town like Halleluia when I was a kid. Today it's... older. More tired. But I still love it.

It's almost midnight. Almost 2008. I'm hanging on to the last hour and forty-nine minutes of 2007. It's hard to let go.

And it was a hard year. Well... maybe hard isn't the word. A challenging year. But what year isn't? As Uncle Edisto says in EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS, "Open your arms to life! Let it strut into your heart in all its messy glory!" yes, yes, yes.

Let's see, messy glory: I lost one editor this year, and then another. But I watched THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS come into the world with lots of joyful noise, and I ran right behind it, on tour... everywhere, it seemed, for so long! It was a pleasure and a pain, and a complete joy.

I met new friends. I visited with Eudora Welty and William Faulkner, read ALL-STARS on Thacker Mountain Radio, drove through the dark night through the Mississippi Delta with Jim Allen, doggedly planted my gardens through the long, dry summer in Atlanta, got married in July to a long-time love, paid for my daughter's last year in college, saw my grandson for the first time in five years, made quilts for my grandgirls, visited kin, welcomed family, watched the rain fall through Christmas week in Atlanta, and criss-crossed the country, teaching.

Not in that order. It's late... stream of consciousness is taking over. My husband is gigging on New Year's Eve, of course. He and his bandmates are jazzing the year in for party-goers somewhere here in Atlanta. I'm going to get a long, hot bath now. I have played in my closet for the past two days -- with all the traveling I did this year, I scarcely got unpacked before I packed again, and I ended up just throwing everything in the closet at some point. I bought a dresser this summer, but I never had the time to fill it. So it felt so good, as one year was ending and another beginning, to gather my clothes -- every piece of clothing I own -- and sort them, wash them, dry them, fold them, hang them, make a pile for Goodwill, and make a pile for IRONING, can you believe it?

I kept thinking of my mother as I buttoned all the buttons on each shirt I hung, just the way she taught me to (and just the way I rarely do), as I folded each blouse just-so, a third this way, a third that way, now fold in half and give it a pat... and I found myself remembering how often I would come home at the end of a school day and see my mother ironing in the family room, watching ANOTHER WORLD. She ironed everything and taught me how to iron as well -- collars and sleeves and pillowcases and... well, I got a hankering to iron; I miss my mother.

So I ordered my drawers and closets, and then tackled the mountain of paper in my office -- another catastrophe of the tour. I found things in that mountain I'd forgotten I had... things I didn't know I had. If you haven't heard from me and have expected to... well... you will. I found it. Them.

Once I had the office ordered, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for supper. Ate it on a tray with a tall glass of cold milk and watched an old movie (TOP HAT, Walter) and smiled. Sighed. I never eat grilled cheese sandwiches anymore. Comfort food. Good. Muenster cheese is the secret. Lots of muenster cheese. Sssssh.....

It's so blissfully quiet here tonight. Not at all like the raucous, lovely years when I had four kids at home and made egg rolls for an army on New Year's Eve, played charades with the neighbors' families, and went outside at midnight with the kids to bang wooden spoons on pots. No, not like that anymore. Everyone is grown up. Everyone is away. Everyone is finding his or her life. And so am I. It is good.

It's a good year, when one delights in what is joyful and grows, even Grinch-like, through challenges. It has been a good year; and it's hard to let a good year go.

It's hard to let you go, too. You've stuck with me through thick and thin this year, on the '07 Book Tour for ALL-STARS; I have so appreciated your good company. So I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm going to migrate you over to One Pomegranate, if you are already a subscriber to the '07 Tour Blog. If you are already subbed to One Pomegranate, you need do nothing -- you're already there. If you are a subscriber to the Tour Journal and have not subbed to OP, you will be receiving an email in the next couple of days from OP, asking you to confirm your subscription to OP -- One Pomegranate.

If you don't want to be subbed to OP, do nothing, and you won't receive further emails. If you do want to sub to OP, click on the link provided in the email, and that's it. Easy peasy. From then on, you'll receive your blog posts from me as One Pomegranate. And you won't hurt my feelin's if you've had enough and need a rest. Come back and see us now and again. We'll keep a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge for you. We'll keep the front room picked up ----------------------------------------------

You don't need to unsub from the '07 Tour Blog. This blog will remain active and online, although I won't be posting here, as the '07 Book Tour is officially and completely and terrifically over. What a run we had with ALL-STARS -- thank you so much, so very much, every one of you: booksellers, readers, teachers, students, librarians, parents, kids, drivers (Hey, Jim Allen! Hey, Carol!), friends and family, and a Grand Slam thank you to Harcourt Children's Books, especially everyone in marketing who put together such a fabulous tour and worked so darn hard to make sure it came together so splendidly. My baseball cap is off to you, gods and goddesses, all.

You can scroll down and read specifically about each bookstore, each bookseller, each school, each town, each conference, each MEAL I ate, just about... happy sigh, I'm so glad I kept an accounting. I will not forget you. And you will not be allowed to forget me! I will keep coming back, hoping you will welcome me back into your lives, bookstores, schools, libraries, homes, with the next book, the next story, the next time.

You were more than awesome. Meeting you all this year was like playing in Dodger Stadium with Sandy Koufax, listening to Vin Scully announce the play-by-play, sitting in the stands under the lights during a night game, watching the ballet of a perfect game.

It was a symphony true.