I once had an English professor who told us that foreshadowing, symbolism and irony are literary terms, and by definition, can not happen in real life. It is our desire to see our life as a coherent story, he believed, that made us look for such things in hindsight. I disagree, but then, I think I’m the protagonist.
I recently learned that the city of Cary, NC was originally named Bradford’s Ordinary, which seems to disprove Professor Harris’s theory. Ordinary is just too apt. I often feel like life here is generic, flavorless American, a landscape of interchangeable strips malls and industrial parks and the highways leading there, the lifestyle I wanted to escape by moving to China.
Reading about North Carolina’s extra-long growing season doesn’t describe the gardens here, bursting with larger versions of familiar flowers of Massachussetts and New Jersey. In patches between concrete convenience, I find wild vines with glossy green leaves and delicate white Southern flowers, or huge blossoms with almost tropical petals and sweet, heavy scent. Even our balcony basil and mint are touched with the wild growth here.
Evenings bring lightning flashes on the horizon from distant thunderstorms. Summer storms arrive, they come with the intensity and suddenness of the Kate Chopin story, a golden sunny day turning to wind-tossed trees and heavy, fat raindrops in minutes, and clearing just as quickly.