Month: August 2013

Shoulder Season

They call it the shoulder season: that time in September when the rental houses are cleaned up and closed out, when the striped tents disappear from the sand, when the gate to the pier creaks on it hinges. The sky still shines blue, the ocean water still laps warm. But the little kids who once hopped like sand fleas across the beach are gone,...

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Angels on the Train

We were many. An overflowing, summer-stuffed, unpracticed group. Even those of us who weren’t novice train-goers were intimidated by the crowd, made nervous by the excess: would I really have a seat? He was kind, the conductor who did not view his job as an opportunity to inflict minor cruelty on those more ignorant—and dependent—than he....

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Not Feeling Smiling or Friendly

Exiting the Office Depot, I saw a sign: “Now Hiring Smiling, Friendly People.” I wondered if I would pass the “Smiling, Friendly” test. I debated this on my way to the car. Talking out loud, to myself. “You flunk!” my examiner shouted. “Smiling, friendly people don’t talk to themselves. They have...

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Substitution Will Not Work

Recently, I have had two distinctive events in my life: the death of my dad and the birth of my second grand baby. These events are distinctive in the sense of momentous and thus distinguished from my otherwise normal life. They are also distinctive in the sense of distinct: they have nothing to do with one another. In their comments to me, folks...

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Life is Tough All Over

You can talk all you want about how “sweet” my daddy was. And he was sweet, particularly at the end of his life when he tromped through the brambles of dying without letting erupt anger, complaint, or self-pity. In fact, he did the opposite, insisting always that he was doing great, feeling great, just glad as all get-out to be here. But...

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Thank you, Daddy

When I was young, I loathed the publication of grief. I hated the wail of ambulances, screaming death through the streets. Even more, I detested the sight of the black crawling hearse, dragging all of us unwillingly into the otherwise-private funeral procession. I’ve mellowed in those opinions, which I held very strongly, very vocally....

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White

The sea burbled in, and the child followed the shells strew on the sand like sparkling coins. Her head full of stories of wrecked pirate ships, she skipped after the seagull feather blown in the breeze and gathered shells willy-nilly, scooping and shaking and stacking in her palm, until she spied the white shells. Soft white puffed shells, like...

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The Star Fish Story

“Do you want to pet the starfish?” the young woman at the museum’s petting exhibit asked. She did not tell me the exhibit was for kids. She did not ask me to push away from the rail. She made room for my curiosity. She showed me the starfish’s mouth, and its eyes. She said, “It’s softer than it looks.” She let me hold the star fish until it curled...

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Leave-takings

One by one, the family departs. First the young couple who must return to our nation’s capitol to meet their grown-up job responsibilities. A weekend they’re given, but their excitement at life allows no room for regret. * We have a few precious days without leave-taking before my mother and Elli pull from the driveway. They are returning...

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