Southern Nights In The City

We the Swaits have moved everything into the new apartment, which is much roomier than the previous. Just about everything's still boxed up, but we're on the way to making the place our home. The inside of the apartment is nice and spacious, and I even think (finally!!) that we'll be able to set up a studio space for Kimberly to paint in. But I think it'll be outside the apartment that I'll set up my perfect little place-o'-Joffreness.

The outsides of the buildings in our complex are a drab yellow brick, and these square bricks are piled onto each other into square buildings. The effect's kind of yucky, but it's not straight "orwellian" (oooooh...) because of the Floridaness of the environment. The buildings themselves are set next to each other in such a way as to form a square, but despite all this squareness, square bricks, square buildings, square complex, the overall aesthetic effect is very organic. Hedges grow halfway up each ground floor window, and a mess of native bushes, shrubs, and leafy miscellania grow up around the tiny deck each apartment is furnished with. The only engineered touch of niceness on the buildings themselves is the cast-iron railing along the decks. The railings are about three feet high, and have a sort of spanish-moorish pattern to them. Cast-iron siding in the same pattern make up little pillars on either side, helping to support the floor of the second-story deck, and continuing up to form its roof. So besides the mass of plants growing in front of each railing on the ground level, different species of vine climb up the pillars onto the railings of the decks above. Half of the apartments, including ours, face out onto parking, but the interior apartments look into a yard of some good size containing a small playground, a pool, and (just to continue the "lush" theme) a little pond complete with cypress swamp "knees."

These are cypress knees.

Gainesville's a great place for free furniture in the summer, as departing students, or those simply moving across town, deposit the furniture they can't take with them on the sidewalk. On Saturday, while moving stuff from one place to the other, I spotted a red wicker rocking chair and snatched it. It's a little beat up, but it supports my two-hundred-ninety pounds of power, and it was free, so every day in its comfort is a bonus.

Anyway, this "new" chair is the centerpiece to the new niche I've established on our deck area, utilizing the spot's natural strengths. I count nine different plant species a-potted up and domesticated by Kimberly's skill on the inside of the railing, and all sorts of craziness the first five feet beyond it, and some of those plants are even reaching through the railing into the deck.

Tonight I have plunked my chair down in the middle of all this, have lit a pipe, and am now scribbling in the new leatherbound journal my brother gave me. Crickets provide a constant background noise (and as I write a twin-prop buzzes by north of here, headed for Gainesville Regional), and the air is heavy and damp, so that mah brow is beaded with sweat. A little breeze swings by occasionally. Although tonight's drink should be a gin and tonic, or just a little bit of scotch, I must drink Diet Pepsi. Still, I've made up for that deficiency by putting Billie Holiday on the little box out here: Them There Eyes is playing now. I wish I had a version of Strange Fruit, that would feel especially appropriate tonight (heavy, black, and southern).


Well, I've finished smoking, Kimberly and Renata are asleep, and I can see through the sliding doors that the cat is doing something strange to herself on the couch. It's probably time to go back inside and call it a night.

Despite all the piled boxes, and not having the gas turned on yet (cold showers!!), today has by God's grace been a day of rest. I'm tired now.

One more thing: Kimberly and I have been very upset by our inability to have people over after worship these past few weekends, especially with all the new folks visiting and attending as Fall semester approaches. That hiatus o' hospitality ends next Sunday. Finally!

Oh, and my dad has added new photos to his site.