Carolina dreaming in autumn

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sometimes, if we’re lucky and live long enough, we get to make a dream come true.
I am sitting on a porch, writing on my laptop (thanks to the wonders of Wi-Fi) at a cabin on a lake in Carolina, North or South or maybe both. I’m not sure. The lake straddles the state line and flows between several basins, making it difficult for me to say exactly where I am.
No matter. I am here. And I am present.
I grew up in these mountains, running barefoot, chasing cows, dodging snakes, pinching cousins and marveling at the dazzling spectacle of the changing of the seasons.

I left after college to make my life and rear my children a world away in California. I’ve returned many times to visit family and friends, to sink my toes in red dirt, eat fried green tomatoes and fill my senses with the land that I still call “home.”
Too often, I’ve come for funerals. My grandparents and most of their 12 children, including my mother, are buried on a hill above a BI-LO supermarket parking lot. My dad and most of his family were laid to rest as well, in the family plot at a country church some 40 miles up the road.
My sister and brothers and nieces and nephews and dozens of our cousins have lived their entire lives hereabout.
All of that’s to say this: My roots are here. I have roots in other places: 30 years on the coast of California, seven in the desert outside Las Vegas. I’ve always loved the coast and I’m learning to love the desert.
But the Blue Ridge Mountains were my first love, the place where I learned how to walk and talk and breathe and dream and try to make sense of who I am.
Wherever I go, whatever I do, some part of me dreams of being here in these mountains.
Especially in the fall.
And so, lucky for me, here I am, making a dream come true, sitting alone on a lake watching leaves put on their show, and picking up once again where I last left off, writing a novel that I’ve put down for too long.
My husband understands my wanting/needing to do this. It’s one of the reasons I married him. He doesn’t seem to mind that I’m not exactly … normal. He knows I’ll come back to him when the leaves are down.
I wish you could see them. There’s not a lot of color yet, just green, of course, more green than imaginable in the desert or even on the coast or maybe even in a jungle.

For now, there is only a hint of color, a promise, a leafy dream of red and yellow and gold. I can wait. In the meantime, I watch other things.
In summer, this lake hums with power boats and jet skis and lots of folks looking for anything but peace and quiet.
Fall is a different story. Basically, I’ve got the lake to myself, more or less. Except for a distant, barking hound. And a great blue heron with legs that are longer than mine, who likes to fish in the shallows off the porch. And a dark, feathery shape I suspect is a hawk that dive-bombed into a dogwood tree and flew off with a squirrel.
Occasionally, in the distance, I hear a chainsaw or a leaf-blower or the voices of men debating how to build or shore up or rip something down. Voices carry well over water.
Also, over the weekend, I saw a pack of seven dogs — Labs, I believe — swimming across the lake in the company of a woman standing up on a paddleboard.
I don’t get Showtime or HBO, but there is no shortage of entertainment when you’re busy watching a dream come true.
I am here. And I am present. And that is all it takes, really.
Show up, be present wherever you are and watch your life become the life of your dreams.
Where are you? What’s your dream? Let me know.
I’ll let you know how it goes on the lake with me and mine.
Contact Sharon Randall at