You know you are deep in Southern territory when women driving open-air Jeeps keep an aerosol can of hairspray handy. Reminds me of the time many years ago when now-husband John Pitts called me from his office in Washington, D.C. “My ink pen exploded all over my shirt,” he said. “Any advice for getting it out?” I replied with the universal antidote: “Sure. Ask one of the women there if you can borrow their hairspray and then saturate and blot.” There was a pause and then laughter. “You forget,” he said, chuckling, “that this is not the South. I bet none of the women I work with even know what hairspray is.” Putting aside the argument that Washington IS, in fact, the South, it is true that hairspray — lots and lots of hairspray — is a Southern essential. Especially in Jeeps.
I’m not very much of a nature girl. I mean, if it’s a choice beween curling up with a good book and a cup of good coffee versus lacing up the hiking boots, I’m taking the book and coffee every time. But sometimes, nature just sort of demands that you put the book down and unplug the computer and forget where you put your cell phone and simply be still and appreciate. Which is what some girlfriends and I did this past weekend when we rented a house on Smith Lake in Alabama and then proceeded to do not much of anything else. No, that’s not true. We ate and talked and laughed and drank and talked and laughed. And reveled in the peaceful and utterly quiet surroundings that demanded absolutely nothing of us except to enjoy. We’re making it an annual tradition to get away on the weekend before Thanksgiving, before all the holiday craziness — which we wouldn’t give up for anything, by the way — makes us … well, crazy. It’s like filling up your tank with super-extra-serene fuel to get you through the next few weeks, topped off with a refreshing oil-change of quality friend-time.
Oh my goodness — the holidays really haven’t officially started yet but I bet you’re already feeling stressed. Let’s see if any of these things are on your list: Baking, cooking, cleaning, organizing, traveling, shopping, keeping everybody happy. Sound familiar? Yikes. Well, I’m going to help you out here. For just a minute, slip away to this wondrously quiet and peaceful little piece of Alabama. This past weekend some friends and I rented a house at Lake Smith — and did absolutely nothing. The only two rules were that we couldn’t move the cars once we got there (and really there’s no place to go) and that it was an official MUFW (Makeup-Free Weekend). We pretty much hung out in our baggy PJ pants and T-shirts, talked and ate all weekend. But, look — we saved a chair for you! So in the next few days, when things get hectic and you start to wonder why those Pilgrims were so thankful anyway, hang in there and remember: Christmas is only a month away.