Homebound: A Tour Of Mersea

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Christie and I are homebound. She, an author and writer of contemplative prose, is bound to Maplehurst, a red-brick farmhouse built by Pennsylvania Quakers in 1880. And I, a writer of poetry and prose, live in a small southern shrimping village. My home, Mersea, is an old white Victorian built in 1904. We are both writers, wives, mothers, but nearly twenty years and hundreds of miles lie between us.

Christie and I exchanged a few “Homebound Letters” over Lent. The nature of a letter is to communicate over a distance, but the season of Lent introduces other distances — there is the space between winter and spring, the break between longing and fulfillment, and the chasm, so like a tomb, between death and new life. But what is Lent, after all, but a kind of long homecoming? It is a practice of return and a way of erasing distance.

 

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them”Psalm 126:6). This is the meaning of Easter.

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Easter is watching all that miserable distance shrink, almost to nothing. Easter is no more letter-writing but a face-to face encounter. Christie and I haven’t yet achieved that, it remains our not-quite-yet, but here is our literary equivalent. Here, for you Christie, and for each one of you reading along, is your very own tour of Mersea at Easter time. I am so glad you’ve come to visit.

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Christie, welcome to Mersea! Not only do I welcome all of ya’ll, but the sounds of the sea gulls and songbirds, and the sweet smells of salt air and sea spray coming on shore, they welcome you too. As if on cue they are singing their own songs of gladness and welcome. Shrimp season has just re-opened here so Sweet, my english cocker spaniel and I walked to the end of the road to the seafood market this morning and bought fresh shrimp for our lunch. So I can promise the shrimp salad is fresh! And the girls provided the eggs for the deviled eggs. So they are fresh too. (Perhaps we can exchange recipes. I’d love some from you all.)

Let’s have lunch on the front porch in the spacious wicker rockers with all the cozy colorful pillows. You will learn so much about this small village by watching the locals walk up and down our sidewalks. There will be lots of bicycle riders too, of all ages. I hope my neighbor rides by today, the one who pedals her tricycle with her big fluffy dog tied to the handlebars. She always makes me grin. My hope and dream and wish is to ride my own bicycle into my seventies and eighties. She is an inspiration.

We will not be bored, watching the world go by, you and I and our lunch of shrimp salad, fresh lettuce greens from my garden and fresh picked chocolate mint in our glasses of iced tea. Every once in awhile a crabber will go by with his or her crab pots in the back of the pick up truck. There is such beautiful simplicity in the design of the pot and in making a living from the sea. The village will tell you some stories, if you sit still and listen.

This wobbly old front porch has recently won my heart and become my favorite room in the house. It doesn’t hide its age or the wear and tear of living. It flaunts the fact that it has survived at least two major hurricanes, if not more. I am sure you saw the sign posted on the front column when you arrived, the one presented by the Village Museum. I will tell you over lunch a little more about my decision to name the house Mersea. You see she already has one “official” name, The Thomas William Graham house. As you will see in a moment, she not only has two names, but two front doors as well.

I suppose I could be a bit prideful about how desperately we need to paint the exterior of the house, but change and renovation take time as you well know. There is a certain special kind of peace which comes in loving Mersea in her in-between place. I am beginning to wonder if she will be too shiny, too new, too polished once her new paint is applied to her old white boards.

Now, which door shall we enter. These two front doors of ours, I find them to be at once doubly welcoming and a bit odd. I have a passion for doors, so this suits me just fine. But when folks come to see us they are just not quite sure how and where to enter when we say “Come on in!”

In the springtime and anytime the weather is showing off, we leave the front doors open so that the outside can come in and bring its goodness. Fresh air and cool winds flowing through Mersea is one of my greatest joys. Open! Yes, open is always preferred. And two open provides double the sea air and gull cries and birdsong and smells of spring.

But we must have screen doors. As you know, the gnats and mosquitoes and the “no see ums” can be unbearable. We joke and say it keeps the village small, as it keeps folks away. One screen door slaps so hard you will likely remember its slam even when you return to Maplehurst. The other door is so loose it sometimes requires an intentional closing. This is one of many juxtapositions and idiosyncrasies you will see as we continue on the tour.

Let’s go through the foyer and through the dining room. Try not to peek as I want to show you these spaces a little later after we go to the kitchen to grab our lunch. You must be hungry as you have come so far. I made a pecan pie and we are having fig preserves with lunch. Both are a hat tip to the pecan and fig trees out back. I don’t make good biscuits, but I buy great biscuits. The biscuits are just a placeholder for the spoonfuls, plural, of fresh fig preserves. Bought too. But this summer I have big plans to make my own, like my mother used to do with figs from her fig trees. I am missing mother this first spring without her. Spring was her favorite time of year. So many things here at Mersea were gifts from momma. I will point them out to you as we go.

Would you like coffee or hot tea with your pecan pie?

To be continued…

(Follow along on Instgram @graceappears for more photographs of Mersea)

 

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Christie Purifoy has offered to give all of us a tour of her home. Click the link here to follow along on her Homebound Home Tour of Maplehurst At Eastertime.

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The Greatest Of These Is Love

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Join me today at Grace Table?  My words and I are over there telling a love story. A story of love.

“It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was love very soon after we wrapped our heads and hearts around one important realization. Beauty lay behind the fringes of the dirt. Redemption could be found on the frayed edges of the brokenness. Restoration would require patience and sweat equity. It would demand waiting. And it would call for trust. But it would return much more than it could ever have asked of us.

This was a transaction of the heart. And we would be reminded that love wins every time.

Thank you, as always, for joining me at the table….(Click the link to read “The Greatest Of These Is Love”.)

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Monday Morning Quarterbacking On Saturday: Five Things I am Grateful For This Week

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Thing One

When I lived in New York (aka Manhattan) I recall, begrudgingly (aka I have tried to forget), the huge chunks of time standing waiting for the subway, the elevator in my apartment and the elevator at 285 Madison Avenue. It seemed barren. Like as a waste-land. A time thief. Endless amounts of time in transit.

So today as I shopped at Tractor Supply with my husband, I breathed in the life-style change. New York is a faint and dimming memory. Today’s outing, with smells of rubber and metal and sights and sounds of “country” this and “country” had me fully present-in-the-moment and swimming in the irony of yesterday juxtaposed to today.

Thank you, today for the siren’s song of leventy-leven brands of dog food and time wheeling the card up and down the rows searching for chicken wire and chicken pen accoutrement.

Thing Two

Oh what a tangled web. Earlier this week I was invited to high tea at a friend’s home. She was in town for four days from the UK and brought her teacups and silver, scones and tea paraphernalia in her suitcases. Grateful for high tea with three courses or was it four, what? And for friendships nurtured over tea.

Thing Three

We have squash and radishes in our garden. Backflips I tell you over spying their arrival.

Thing Four

Death almost snatched my very old lab from my arms this week. She fought back and lived to tell about it. And I have witnessed a miracle. She is old ya’ll. She cheated death this week. For that, I am grateful and amazed. Each day is a gift. Truly.

Thing Five

I am thrilled to be finding my writing friends (who are far flung all over this country) on Voxer. What a gift to discover accents and voice nuances and inflections. And little mini chats keep popping up like the gifts planted decades ago in my hundred year old yard by Mrs. Graham. Oh life. You are filled with ordinary wonder.

Thing Five and a half

People, “the book” thing is becoming realer. I just need an agent, an editor, a publisher and a million words. What the what? Help. Seriously though, the support has me teary. I should have started this post with “it” as Thing One

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Happy Weekend wondering and wandering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

S.O.S. – A Not Very Poetic Call For Help

Some sentences are just so…plain. And ordinary. And without poetry. This one is one of those.

Ya’ll, I need a little bit of reader input. Boring. Right? But there is a poem following the request. If you have one minute or a few minutes, I would be honored if you would give me a sentence of two. You can leave it in the comment box. Or you can email me at wynnegraceappears@gmail.com.

My heart is pounding and my insides are restless about this “book thing”. I may never write one. Or I actually may sit down and write one. And if i do or when I do, I really would love the push from readers or the “don’t do it” from readers.

(Spoiler alert. There are a lot of books out there. Do we really need another one?)

But I would be silly or crazy or mad not to ask you all for your feedback. Before the book dies on the vine or on the shelf. Or fall flat. Or never gets written. Or all of the above.

Poetry or prose? Poetry from me mixed with space for you to journal and draw and scribble and ponder? Essays?

So speak your mind. And thank you. No really, THANK YOU.

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Boots

The Lady at The Check Out Line and Other Wise Souls in Sheep’s Clothing

The shepherds of the world, the meek and the mild
Disguised in plainclothes
Scanning the jars of Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce, while sleepy smiling
Asking all the right questions
Thanking you for bagging
(Paper or plastic, used to be the world’s oldest, space filler of quietude)
Hidden behind the clerky smile
And the name tag
And the all business
And the internal musings “is it five o’clock yet”
Is the fountain of wisdom
Waiting to erupt
They welcome our confidences in their non-threatening ways
The check-out line becomes the shrink’s couch
And we confide
“At least you found it”
She says to me
I know you know the words, I lay down before the altar of just formed trust
PHD in human frailty

They will inherit the Earth.