Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 66

guest column

Late-Night
Mountain Air
Cece Bell is an author and illustrator
of books for children. She lives in an
old church in Montgomery County,
Virginia, and she works right next door
in a newish barn. Her graphic novel
memoir, "El Deafo", which chronicles
her childhood experiences with hearing
loss, received a Newbery Honor and an
Eisner Award in 2015. She has also created many picture books, and often collaborates with her husband, the author
Tom Angleberger.
by Cece Bell
The first five years of my life, in the early '70s, I lived in
Richmond, Virginia. One of my earliest memories began
its shape there, in the muggy twilight of an early summer evening. I was already wearing my pajamas when
I joined my older brother and older sister in the back
of the cavernous white Volvo-we were leaving the big
city to visit our grandmother. I stretched out and fell
asleep with my head on my sister's lap, or more specifically, on the pillow that my sister was holding in her
lap, the satiny pillow with the psychedelic pink and
brown flowers that my mom would sit on to help her
see better when she drove.
Granny Bell lived in the mountains across the state,
and across the street from the train tracks, in a sweet little
house on Depot Street a few doors up from the Cambria
train station. It took a long time to get there. I woke up
when my father lifted me out of the car. The late night
air was cool, sharp even, especially for summer, especially
after Richmond, especially after a long car ride that was
stuffy even with the windows down the whole way.
The air smelled like cut grass, maybe. Like cherries
from the cherry tree in Granny Bell's backyard, some
ready to be picked off the branches, and some just barely
beginning to rot on the ground. The air felt cooler the
farther away it got from the ground that had been storing up heat all day, which was a surprise-doesn't warm
air rise and cool air sink? Dad carried me to Granny Bell's
66 BlueRidgeCountry.com

Cece Bell: "The late night air was cool, sharp even, especially for summer,
especially after Richmond, especially after a long car ride that was stuffy
even with the windows down the whole way."

bedroom and tucked me into one of her twin beds, and
I nestled under the white chenille bedspread, waiting for
Granny Bell to join me later, in her own bed right next
to mine.
When I replay this memory in my head, as I always
do in summer, I feel the soft knobby bumps of the
chenille under my fingers; I see the dim lamp, kept on
for me, illuminating the wallpaper, making the white
daisies glow on their pale blue background; I taste the
Tang that Granny Bell mixed for me and placed on the
bedside table; I smell the slightly cloying perfume of
Granny Bell's ancient rose lotion, hanging in the pockets of the room that the air outside the open window
couldn't reach-a product I am sure she never used, as
Granny Bell herself smelled like Dove soap and green
beans. I like to think that I hadn't lost my hearing yet,
that I could hear the trains passing by in the night, that
I could hear the adults catching up, laughing just outside the bedroom door. If I was four when this memory
happened, then yes. If I was five, then no. I've never
been sure. Memory does play its tricks.
Years later, I moved into my own house, also in the
mountains of Montgomery County, also across the street
from the train tracks, and also surrounded, in the summers, with that same cool mountain air that envelops me
in my grandmother's warm embrace, and prompts a real
craving for a glass of Tang. ī†


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017

Features
Romance, Reunions and Family Fun for Summer
Mountain Summer: A Photo Essay
When Asheville Took over the 1970sā€™ Paper Dress Fad
Bateaux along the James River
On the Appalachian Trail, the Easy Way
BBQ!
Departments
Letters / Worth a Click
Contributors
From the Editor
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
The Good Walk
Country Roads
Singing in the Garden
Festivals & Events
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Romance, Reunions and Family Fun for Summer
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Mountain Summer: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - When Asheville Took over the 1970sā€™ Paper Dress Fad
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Bateaux along the James River
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - On the Appalachian Trail, the Easy Way
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - BBQ!
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - Cover4
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