Lynchburg

These are writings inspired by my life in Lynchburg.  I moved here in 1986. This is an old, conservative,  southern, town at the foot of the Appalachians.  It is also called Hill City, or City of Seven Hills.  My great-uncle Walter, who worked for the railroad, lived here for years in the 1930s. My grandmother  learned to drive here one summer when they were visiting Uncle Walter. The car was a stick shift of course, and my mother was a little girl.  Mama said she feared for her life  when Grandmama drove.  Mama was sure they would slide backward down a hill and into the river before Grandmama could get the gears to hold.  When I moved here from the flat land of Tidewater, I was afraid of the same thing and I was driving an automatic. Despite her experience of learning to drive in this hilly place,  Grandmama said “Lynchburg is the prettiest city in Virginia”.

I’m still working on this website.  I want just Lynchburg stories on this page but the other entries keep showing up.

http://mariannevest.com/428/

 

 

Outside is a dogwood. The green leaves are hot with a dry yellow cast.   A cardinal sits on an empty bird feeder with its black eye focused on my window.  The camellia is smooth, glossy, green, not dry like the dogwood.  I know how they feel without touching them.

The storm split the big dogwood out front right down the middle.  A man is coming next week to look at it and see if it can be saved.  I have too many trees, so why am I spending money to save the old dogwood.  It was growing when my daughter was little.  She would run away to that tree when she was mad and hug it, glaring back at me like the tree was her new, kinder, better mother. It’s a marker. I need to keep the markers.  I know about illusions, but I cling anyway.

I read a poem this morning that had a jaracanda in it. I looked them up. They have delicate lavender flowers that cover the ground like confetti after a rain. I want one and can’t have it because they don’t grow here. I don’t want to think about where they grow because I won’t ever go there. I’m irritated by what I won’t see in the years I have left, in my one and only life.  Can I visit the jaracandas in my mind?  Can I read myself to them?

The fan is winding back and forth. It jiggles and shudders as it turns.  My husband says he can’t stand the fan.  I like it to blow right on my face while I write. It reminds me that I sit here with a face that feels it’s coolness and ears that hears its humming and rattling.  I’m not in another place entirely, a place where words spin and voices prattle and coo, a world where Virginia Woolf lives, where she watches the sun rise on the old school and the waves throw a skirt across the beach, as I sit beside her and share her life.

Julius

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  When I was twelve, Uncle Billy told us to steal a load of corn out of Mr. Aspenwall’s field. “I’m going to unlock the trunk on your Aunt Jack’s cadillac.   Now here's what I want you to do. I want you to drive down to the turnaround, … [Continue reading]

Blue Christmas Lights

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  Hearts were what the two sisters drew in the car. They pushed and crawled over each other to get to the window. They blew steam on the glass and then wiped it away with their fingers, making crooked figures that melted away slowly, leaving … [Continue reading]

Chicken Bride

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  Fuchsia crepe myrtle blossoms float on rainwater held by two large terra-cotta saucers. A Wyandotte chicken pecks at the water. Her feathers are white edged in black. She’s a chicken dressed in lace, a chicken bride. Dale sits … [Continue reading]

Aunt Helen’s Funeral

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East Ocean View Avenue, Norfolk 1938. There’s a house by the bay that has been there for over a hundred years. It once had a rose bower over the front door, and black, wooden shutters with crescent moon silhouettes cut into them.  The house … [Continue reading]

First I heard the stories that my mother and father told me.

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This is where the core of my stories came  from to begin with, this little girl who loved stories so much. I remember the AA Milne books and the Book House book. There was the story about the dog in the manger which Mama read to me over and over (I … [Continue reading]

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