Bradford’s Ordinary

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.

But summer has arrived, unlike any summer I’ve seen, with long, lingering twilights. The light fades so slowly I only realize it’s nighttime by the appearance of lightning bugs.

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.

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0 Responses to Bradford’s Ordinary

  1. Steve says:

    But then again, the protagonist usually doesn’t have elbow patches on suede suits and a keen insight into literary analysis. (That is, unless you’re reading some poor sod’s graduate attempt at a fiction novella.)

    Today, in MA, there was thunder and rain and lightning and wind, and in the very next moment there’s the sunset, gleaming on the west-facing houses, jarringly backdropped by the darkest storm clouds you’ve ever seen.

    I keep coming back to New England. I think the mercurial weather plays a part, swaying, drenching and parching the trees, in turn.

  2. Meg says:

    Exactly what I needed to hear today, Steve! Thank you!

    I miss the New England snows (although I can’t say I miss the biting bitter cold) and the houses in visual harmony. This area seems to be matching developments (sometimes w/ a gate to keep out the riffraff from the development down the street) or haphazard mashing of styles. Maybe it needs more time to get a cohesive style?

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