Georgia Magazine - July 2017 - 33
The grass is greener right here
BY CATHY DEES
y Georgia begins with my first
breath. I was born and raised in
this beautiful state. But having
left this bountiful land for a very different environment, I now appreciate
Georgia with a new perspective.
While growing up in Stockbridge
in the mid-1960s, I never appreciated
the daily afternoon thunderstorms
during the blistering hot, humid summers. Thunder shook the house, and
the wind blew so hard that I was sure
it would cause the oak tree behind
our patio to topple onto the house.
Afterward, expecting a cooling
refresh of the air from the rains only
led to disappointment, as the sun
drank in the puddles of water, causing a thick steam to rise from the
streets. Nighttime offered little relief,
as air conditioning was a luxury for
only a few at that time. Sweating profusely and then shivering when a
gentle breezed sneaked through the
window, I tossed and turned.
Winters were always confusing.
One day it would be 30 degrees, and
the next, 70 degrees. One day clear,
and the next, there would be 3 inches
of ice on the ground that stranded everyone for a week. We took anything
we could find to use as a sled-garbage can lids or cardboard boxes-
and perilously slid down the streets
lined with cars and hills full of iceladen trees. We wore four pairs of
socks: two pairs on our feet and two
pairs on our hands to use as mittens.
It didn't matter if there was a trace of
snow or a foot of ice; school was out,
and we were going out in it.
You couldn't ask for better in
spring, with its warmer temperatures
and array of flowering bushes. We
started work on our tans in March so
as to be ready for the high school's
annual trip to Florida in April. However, the occasional tornado scare
came through as the season began to
Cathy Dees' daughter, Emma, completes a
corn maze in Forsyth. When Dees lived in
California, she missed the variety of Georgia's seasons and landscapes.
switch to summer. I remember how
my body ached after what seemed
like hours crouching in hallways.
Autumns in Georgia were best.
Finally, after a grueling summer, the
days were comfortable and the nights
were cool and crisp, perfect for sleeping. The nights were clear, and the
days were bright with crystal-blue
skies and puffy, white clouds balanced against the beautiful changing
leaves of gold, orange, purple and
red. Football was at its height, and
early evening band practice echoed
in the nearby neighborhoods.
By my late teens, I had developed my adventurous spirit and was
ready for something different and
unique. After college, I traversed
around and lived in at least half a
dozen cities around metro Atlanta.
But that wasn't enough. So, California, here I come.
It took several days to reach the
West Coast by car, but what wondrous landscapes I experienced along
the way! The flatlands in northern
Texas. The desert and snow-topped
mountains in New Mexico and NeMore online at www.georgiamagazine.org
vada. The mesas at night. The mountains along the coast of California.
The suburbs of Los Angeles and
San Diego amazed me. The planned
communities were so different from
communities in the South. Everything
looked so clean, new and organized.
Huge street signs hung over every intersection. There was no getting lost
here-except for the many roads that
led to nowhere, as developers just
abruptly ended roads once they had
gone as far as they needed for that development. Back roads rarely connected to other back roads, and basically
the only way to get from here to there
was on an interstate. But it was gorgeous, and I decided to stay for a bit.
My infatuation faded in less than a
year. I missed the ability to travel back
roads when traffic was stalled on the
interstates. The saying "You can't get
there from here" took on a new meaning for me. I missed the seasons-the
rain, the thunderstorms and even the
humidity. I especially missed the lush
green of the grass and trees that dotted every street back home. And even
though not a lick of it was filmed in
Georgia, I watched "Gone With the
Wind" every weekend as I longed,
quite literally, for "the greener grass on
the other side" of the country.
After a little more than a year and
a half, in early July, I got in the car and
returned to Georgia. As I hit the Georgia line late one afternoon, a thunder
cloud loomed in the distance. I saw a
streak of lightning, and the coins in
the car door rattled as the thunder
boomed. Huge drops of rain began to
fall on the windshield and then turned
into torrents. The thick green trees
and grass before me stretched tall to
receive the quenching rains. At last, I
knew I was back in "my Georgia."
Cathy Dees and her family live at
Veritas Ranch in Barnesville and are
members of Southern Rivers Energy.