Wish You Were Here

You’re looking at the beautiful apartment where we currently reside in Durham (note the sarcasm – also note the luggage – this was the night we moved in). Black vinyl furniture and beige carpet may bruise my aesthetic soul but it will do for now. And I suspect very few furnished short-term rental apartments are done up in my particular “style”.

My aesthetic soul has undergone lots of bruising lately; Toto, we’re not in Portland anymore. Those leafy streets and sprawling old homes and independent businesses in cool old buildings – it’s hard not to think of them without sighing heavily. North Carolina itself is not ugly, not at all. But the city planning and retail developments leave a lot to be desired. I guess I just didn’t think college towns would mean strip malls everywhere but it seems to be so. And make no mistake – despite the progressive, liberal, hippie-ish politics (especially of Chapel Hill) the car is a necessity here. Particularly where we currently live, tucked to the side of Durham, edging the Duke Forest. But it looks like it’s not going to get any easier no matter where we live – this area is both small and spread out, a rather disturbing combination. Looks like I’ll finally have to take the plunge and get my license at last, though I draw the line at becoming a two-car family. We used to be able to leave the car for days at a time, weeks at a time if we wanted, using it only for weekend trips. We’ll do our best to work around it, but local public transit has a long way to go.

The benefits of small-ish town living? (and believe me, this is the smallest town either of us have either lived – and we used to make fun of Portland for its small stature! What did we know…) There are some. Trees and wild life are rampant. Here is a shot of my daily walk in the Duke Forest, just outside our back door. Note the blue sky – boy, does that make my heart happy:

And here is a close-up of the bark of one of my favourite new trees, the Loblolly Pine. Besides it’s excellent name, it’s tall and thin with clouds of needles at the top and a bark that resembles the skin of a python:

The birds are incredibly colourful – orange finches, tiny yellow birds, and yesterday I saw my first bright red cardinal. Hopefully when I get a zoom lens, I can capture some of these beautiful birds and also the giant, brightly coloured butterflies. I need a guidebook to start identifying them all properly.

The wildlife also gets a little bit bigger than the birds. Taking a load to the laundry room the other day, I surprised a doe and her tiny spotted faun, grazing outside our door. And today, on my walk here- I came across this fellow:
We examined each other quietly for a while and I decided to head in the other direction so as not to disturb him too much.
But he decided to follow me down the path a spell, freezing every time I turned around, as if I wouldn’t notice.
Guess that wouldn’t happen in the city.

So – we’re in a mild form of culture shock but there is plenty of beauty to be found and we look forward to finding some more. Plus, we just came back from the pool for a dip at 8 pm in the fading sunlight and warm night air. The crickets have started up their nightly song. Now this is the summer I’ve been dreaming of for so many years!