I have never been to Texas, so pretty much everything I know about it comes from watching Friday Night Lights. In short: it seems like a nice place with some pretty cute boys. Does that about cover it? There are a lot of jokes about how seriously people from Texas take being from Texas, but I have to admit to you that I am pretty serious about being from North Carolina. You can ask some of my friends who moved away whether I still give them a hard time about abandoning our fair state, and they will tell you that the answer is yes. (Susan? Can I get an amen?) I got this from my mom, who was also raised in this land of tobacco, red clay, and college basketball. Most of what my brother and I did as children centered around our extended family, and what I learned from them was to love God and love the land and people around us. There was something beautiful about every season: the fireworks of leaves in the fall, the mild winters and wonder of occasional snow days, the daffodils and dogwoods in springtime. But summer is when I really learned what it means to love North Carolina. Our hot summer days fade into muggy nights as the edge of the yard is dotted with fireflies. We drink sweet tea in mason jars and pick corn in grandma’s garden, shucking it on the back porch. We snap beans in front of the TV, lounge inside reading novels in front of the air conditioner, and beg to go to the pool. There is a chance of thunderstorms every day, but it hardly ever happens. And we eat tomatoes fresh from the garden, anyone’s garden, because everyone has extras.
It is hard to narrow it down, but tomatoes might just be my favorite part of summer. I refuse to eat those ugly pale ones that are all you can get in the grocery store in the winter. Tomatoes mean BLTs and canning and fat slices on hamburgers. They taste like heat and sunshine and afternoons at grandma’s house.
When Tanya Davis opened the show we saw on PEI, her first song was focused on the beauty she sees and loves around the Island. The line I quoted in the title of this post stood out to me: You have to stay in a place through all the seasons to appreciate everything that it is. I think PEI is a wonderful place to visit, but she is right: I only know a part of it. On the way back to our B&B, I told Mike, “The way that she feels about PEI is how I feel about North Carolina.” Perhaps it was one reason I loved her songs so much: I recognize myself in those words, in that rootedness. I love all four seasons here, even the things that seem to drive other people crazy. It is where I am from and it is a part of me as much as my family. It took me a long time to realize that everyone doesn’t feel this way.
On Prince Edward Island, I noticed that the tomatoes on our salads were, frankly, not very good. Possibly it is not quite tomato season there yet. Or maybe it doesn’t ever get hot enough for them to have a real tomato season, not like we do. It was disappointing. They had many other delicious foods, but I thought from time to time about all those tomatoes that I was missing back home, the juice running down your arm as you take a bite of your sandwich. I saw my mom on Saturday, and she brought me a bag of tomatoes from my grandma’s garden (and some from my great-uncle as well). I realized how glad I am to be home.