Coastal Carolina – Spring Fever Hits Hard

Cause if you gots the fever, I’ve gots the remedy.

   by Donna Byrd

I don’t know….It started a few weeks ago.  I’d been fine up until then…But something’s happening to me.  I can’t stop staring out the window.  It’s like, something’s out there and it’s calling me.  Calling my name!  And, I’m hearing things. The ground sounds like it’s rumbling. The trees are buzzing with this high pitched energy noise.  Birds are singing at night.

And my hands…they’re the worst!  I want to dig holes in the dirt and feel it’s grittiness under my fingernails and you know how I hate dirty hands!  I know it’s crazy but I want to put my nose in the loamy earth and inhale the rich essence of something I can’t quite put my finger on. I don’t know… Life?  The essence of life?  I’m  finding myself watching tutorials on bulb planting and the pros of planting with bare roots.  I’m hoarding my money to spend at the dreamiest place ever (Pender Pines Garden Center). Heck, I’ve started walking around Lowes’ garden center like a young girl walking by that new boy’s house, humming to herself while she takes a gander at his bedroom window. But I’m looking at rose bushes!  It’s embarrassing. IMG_1126

My feet want to break out of the boots I’ve worn since last October and I can’t find my flip flops. The other day, I was sitting on the porch steps in a daze, my eyes closed.  The sun felt so good and warm on my face I peeked open an eye to make sure it wasn’t God or an angel pressing against my face.  It was only the sun, but that’s just it…when I feel this way, I believe anything can happen!  I’m losing my sense of sensibility! I’m getting all dreamy and feeling “spiritual” tingles.  I want to lay down on the ground and hug the earth.  I need help!  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

I was sitting on the bed, propped up with pillows, my computer in my lap, opened to a flower nursery website. Southern Living and Coastal Living magazines were scattered all about the king sized bed. Bill was sitting next to me, my ramblings nothing new to him. It was that time of year again when he knew he had to be careful and gentle with me.  I had suffered these symptoms year after year, usually beginning around the first week of March. He put his cool hand on my warm forehead.  “Honey, I think you’ve got Spring Fever.”

That was the moment when “Dr. Bill” took out his “spring tonic” and began to open the bottle. He knew that one spoonful of his remedy would bring my fever down to a controllable level. He’d developed it over the years and it had a powerful affect on me.  I am usually too delirious to realize the simplicity of his remedy at my time of need.  I gulped it down like a good girl who was promised a fairy tale garden for swallowing the medicine she’d been offered. IMG_1123

“Donna, what do you want to buy?  How much money are we talking about? I mean, of course, within reason.”  And somehow, these two questions and that part about “reason” cut through my delirium. The tonic worked immediately.  I came back to myself.  It was a miracle.  I didn’t say a word and just stared at him because I wondered how much he was going to let me spend.  I told him my plans and then my bottom line: “I want to fill in my front flower beds with lilies, phlox, liatris and balloon flowers.  I’d like to put some knock out roses in the back yard with some hostas, maybe a few hydrangeas, up by the house.  That’s all.  My guess is that it will cost a few hundred dollars… maybe three?” IMG_1117

I waited for his answer and he paused, because he knew he had to say “yes” when he was thinking, “no.”  Wisely compromising, he said, “Donna, go out and spend about half that much at first. We’ll worry about the other half later.” My Spring Fever healing had begun.

The next day, feeling eighty percent better but in my right mind, I set off to Lowe’s. Since we had bought a house in southeastern North Carolina in Sneads Ferry, on the mainland across from Topsail Island, I had to study up on what types of flowers would grow in our sandy soil and humid “down east,”  coastal environment.  Going out on a limb and because it was early in the planting season, I bought some summer bulbs and bare root summer flowers.  I read that planting your flower garden with bulbs and roots was cheaper plus the flowers would be stronger because of a better root system. Since I was all for saving money and having strong, big plants, I thought I’d give it a try.  I saw a sign on the side of the bulb display that said, “Dig, Drop, Done.”  Sounded easy enough to me.IMG_1176

When I arrived at home, I was full of high hopes and the car was filled with bag after bag of rich garden soil and pretty boxes containing the promise of multitudes of colorful summer blossoms. I put on a new pair of garden gloves and went to work.

I began by digging the flower beds and spreading the rich new soil around in them.  May I just make a comment here about how hard that was?  I had forgotten how much elbow grease it took to dig up a garden. I stood back and admired the pretty, clean beds but was so out of breath and shaky that I decided the next day I would place all of the bulbs and roots where they would be planted in my garden and then I’d just do the “drop” part.  The hardest part was over.  Nothing like a hard day’s work! IMG_1132

The next morning when I awakened,  I thought the Spring Fever was back in full force but with new symptoms.  My body ached so badly I could hardly get out of bed and it seemed to worsen as the day progressed.  There was a cold rain pelting the black soil on my bare garden and I was hoping the dirt wouldn’t wash away.  I made a pot of chicken soup and stayed inside all day, cursing my body pains and nursing a sinus headache. I would begin the “Drop” part of my gardening whenever my body said it was OK.

Three days later (count them, one, two three,) my body said I could venture out as much as I felt like it. I took all of my boxes of flower “thingy’s” and went outside to my front porch. I’d decided earlier that I would be like a Victorian gardener and write down all of the flowers I’d planted so that later I could look back in my garden journal and remember what was where. Looking down on my scribbled pages, hoping I was going about it the right way, I thought I’d plant them according to their projected heights. I opened my first package.

Liatris and balloon flowers were bulbs.  Easy!  Just which end of the bulb went on top?  Wondering if the bulbs would turn over by themselves if they were planted upside down,  I started digging the holes.  Hole…water…bulb.  Hole…water…bulb.  I squatted.  I sat flat on the dirt.  My back and legs were screaming at me.  Grains of dirt squeezed up under my fingernails even though I had on gloves, yet I toiled on.  Later, admiring my work, I realized after I had dropped the bulbs in and covered them, the ground still looked the same – bare. The bulbs of promise were several inches below the ground getting a feel for their new home. Bending my ear down toward the soil, I listened.  I heard the faint hum of the bulbs, their nervous energy just waiting to start sending roots downward and little shoots upward.  And then, Donna, the Down East gardener,  smiled and said…”It is good.”  I had to take a break to steady my wobbly legs and catch my breath.

It was then time to plant the border flowers: purple freckle phlox and dahlias, the bare root plants.  I took them out of the package and stared at the plastic bag they came in,  moist dirt and roots with some type of nodules hanging on them filled the bag.  Gently, I  pulled one out and honestly, I couldn’t tell if it was the top or the bottom of the plant.  It was so dried and shriveled that I wondered if I should take it back to the store and exchange it for something that looked more “alive.”  “Oh well,” I thought, “I’m just going to put it in the ground and cover it up.  A flower should know what it’s supposed to do.  “Dig. Drop. Done.” Right?

I planted all the bare roots, spacing them as I should,  praying that I was putting them in right side up. Spreading my hands out over the gardens, I asked God to fix any wrong I might have unknowingly done and bless my garden in spite of itself!  Done! I trudged up the porch steps, feeling every groaning muscle in my body.  It’s a known fact:  If you want something beautiful, you have to work hard for it.IMG_1186

I glanced at the wicker settee and saw several other boxes of plants that I still needed to put in the ground but they were for the back yard.  Those gardens too, would have to be dug up and formed the way I had planned them.  “Dig. Drop. Done,” was starting to seem like an insurmountable task.  I gathered up all the boxes that were left and went into the house, putting them on the dining room table so that they could remind me every time I walked by them, “Hey, look at me!  I need to be planted by the end of March!”

Ugh!  I was filthy, tired and sore. As I ran some hot bath water, I wondered how much I would have had to plant if Bill had given me  all the money I thought I’d needed to plant my flower beds.  I crawled into the tub and thanked God that my husband had “been gentle with me” and only let me get half of what I wanted.  His tonic for treating “Spring Fever” had healed me from head to toe.  Just throw a little money at a project you really want to accomplish and half way through, you’ll lose energy or interest in it. Brilliant! As I begin to clean the dirt from under my fingernails, I wondered if I could come up for a cure for the “March Madness” that seemed to infect him every spring.  I was going to have to think on that one!

Update:  It’s only been four days and already we’ve spotted some of the Asiatic Lilies coming up in one of the beds around our Flowering Plum tree. I guess I planted them right side up after all or God had pity sakes on me!

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Remember, Treasure Realty has the immediate remedy for your Spring Fever.  Check our stunning spring getaway homes and prices.  You’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is Topsail Island beach time!  treasurerealty.com

OK little darlings!  Here are three of my favorite artists paying tribute to one of one of my all time “greats,” George Harrison.  Enjoy your song!

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Let’s Hear It For The Home Beach!

I wrote this blog for treasurerealty.com.  I wanted to share it also with my “museinme” friends. Check out their website and consider taking a vacation here on beautiful Topsail Island.  Thank you very kindly!

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

As a child growing up in Tarboro, North Carolina, there was only one place that our family vacationed: Atlantic Beach. Living only two and a half hours from that glorious shore made it possible for us to visit the Crystal coast regularly. If we couldn’t stay for an entire week or even one night, that was alright. We’d just pack a lunch and head out early on a Saturday morning, pointing our car eastward toward heaven and when we’d had all the sun and fun we could take in a day’s time, we’d head back home facing the big, orange setting sun.

pier from NatI can’t tell you how many times our family of seven went on those wondrous beach excursions only to come home sunburned and exhausted from a day spent body surfing in the warm ocean water, digging in the sand and walking the endless beach searching for shells. I can remember Momma and Daddy getting all of us sleepy headed children out of the car, carrying the youngest ones in their arms and putting us in our beds with our bathing suits still on and sand still in our hair. Oh, those were some golden days!

As we became a little more prosperous, our family still made the “day trips” but stopped staying in the cheaper “mom and pop” motels where we would all pile into one room.  Our parents began to rent a beach cottage for a whole week every summer. Glory! I can still recall several summers back in the early 1970’s when my mother’s brothers and their families would come too. The adults all had the bedrooms and all of us kids would sleep on pallets on the floor. In the morning, we’d get up early, eat a huge breakfast and head down to the water, which was four blocks away! However, no one complained. We looked like we were in a parade, all of us headed down to the beach, some of my uncles leading the way, the older children holding onto the younger kids and our mothers bringing up the rear.  Each one of us shared the load of drinks, intertubes, towels, beach chairs, books, shovels, pailsIMG_5935 and suntan lotion.  I know we must have been a sight but we didn’t care. We were at the beach!

When we weren’t chillin’ down by the water, we were eating. Food always tasted its best at the beach.  We would dine out once that week at Tony’s Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City. I am still not sure what made it so sanitary. But the rest of the week, my mother and her sisters-in-law would cook our favorite meals for us. They would buy fresh vegetables at little roadside stands that we passed on the way to the beach and with those fresh offerings, cook up the most amazing comfort foods I’ve ever had in my life! To this day, I still think that a vacation at the beach requires fresh corn and tomatoes.

After our happy, noisy meals, we’d go out and sit on the screened in porch, playing games and hearing our uncles tell silly stories about my grandpa’s failed attempts at being an inventor and how they survived poverty during childhood. As a child, I couldn’t imagine being that poor but Mom said it was true. Anyway, they kept us kids laughing and feeling grateful for the opportunity to vacation in heaven. Happier than a birdOne year, we did nothing but talk to each other in rhymes. “I wish I had a drink. Then this poor old mind could think!  Donna, would you bring me some iced tea and while you’re at it swat that bee?”   To this day we still remember with fondness the times spent in the boxy, yellow, cement block cottage four blocks from the beach.

As the years went by, our families prospered a bit more and each family began renting their own places at the beach. We wanted to be near our relatives so we rented condos in the same beach resort at Salter Path, a few miles south of Atlantic Beach. I suppose I would consider those years our vacation “glory years.” During that time, my siblings and I married and brought our spouses to the beach with us. Our cousins did the same. We all had the bedrooms then and our young children and their cousins slept on the floors.  I’m not sure how many condos we rented, but some years we had five or six three and four bedroom condos. It was a week long,  family reunion!

Byrd kids ft macon 1991

Now, my children and all of their cousins remember those days as their golden, summer days.  Some of their best memories from childhood were made at Summerwinds in Salter Path, North Carolina. Atlantic Beach, on the Crystal Coast was our “home beach” stompin’ ground!  My husband and I can’t ride down that long beach road without feeling a wave of nostalgia or twinge of homesickness for the beach of our childhood and the memories we made there later with our own children.

Children grow up and move away, as Bill and I did. Over a period of twenty-five years we lived in other states and adopted other “home beaches.”

miami 1999

When we lived in Orlando, Florida, we could jump in the car and be in Cocoa Beach in an hour. During the year we lived in Miami,  we could look out from our fourth floor sun room and see dolphins swimming in the aquamarine waters off Miami Beach and huge Carnival Cruise ships sailing away to the Bahama Islands. That was truly a home beach.

For a period of ten years, we lived in Oxford, Alabama. To our surprise and delight, our “home beach” became Destin, Florida, five and a half hours away.  There we would take week long, family vacations and sometimes two or three other shorter trips each year. I remember once during that time, sitting at the restaurant, Pompano Joe’s, staring out of the open window propped up with a stick onto a beach that looked like a Corona Beer commercial and saying out loud to no one in particular, “I’m so sorry, Atlantic Beach, but I have found another.”

byrd kids topsail

Over these last four years, I have yet again found another home beach. Bill and I now live in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, five miles away from the beaches on Topsail Island. It’s only about an hour’s drive south of Atlantic Beach and I can honestly say, “It’s good to be back home again.” Already, my children (all six of them are grown and live in Nashville, Tennessee) are making their eastward treks to their new “home beach” here on Topsail Island. We also have two small grandchildren that will now be making memories on our lovely 26 miles of natural beach paradise.

north topsail ocean ridge

These days, I drive by many lovely beach homes situated on Topsail Island. Some of them are huge and have ten or so bedrooms and a pool!  I then think back fondly of the humble beach vacations of my childhood and wonder about the fun times we could have had in a home that big and luxurious, just a few dozen yards or so from the water. I guess what we didn’t know then didn’t hurt us at all, did it?   As I stare wistfully at that beach mansion, I wonder what would it be like to get together in a place like that this summer? I suppose that even with all that room, the kids would still probably want to make pallets and sleep on the floor!

Did you have a “home beach” growing up?  Do you have one now?  Share a memory or two with us in a comment below!   

Here’s your song!  Enjoy!

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