Monday, December 29, 2008

You Really Can Go Home Again

This is my final random thought for 2008 and this time around it is not so random. I want to use this opportunity to pay tribute to a good friend who passed away earlier this month.

Ted Mitchell was originally from Oak Park, Michigan, but moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1988. For two decades he worked as a historic site interpreter and volunteer at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, and he was also the director of the long-running Thomas Wolfe Festival. I first met Ted on an early visit to the Wolfe Memorial and we later served together on the Board of Directors of the Thomas Wolfe Society.

Ted was quite a remarkable person. A researcher, scholar, and writer extra ordinaire, he authored numerous books, essays and articles on Wolfe, most recently, Windows of the Heart: The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Margaret Roberts (2007). A tribute by Ted’s friend, Rob Neufeld, of the Asheville Citizen-Times, gives you an idea of the type of person he was.
"Ted’s devotion to and reverence for Thomas Wolfe and his contributions to American letters was second only to his devotion and love for those who were fortunate enough to be counted among his friends and colleagues. Ted’s kind words and thoughtful insights into life’s many challenges were a constant source of inspiration and comfort for those around him. His unique and humorous perspectives on life could bring a smile to even the most hardened of souls. Ted loved the natural world around him and . . . he enjoyed daily walks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The beauty and grandeur of the mountains of North Carolina never seemed to lose their hold on Ted. A pair of binoculars was always by his living room window so that he could occasionally gaze upon the majesty of Mt. Pisgah in the distance."

So I am deeply saddened by Ted’s passing. He has given us so much over the years and would have certainly produced more fine Thomas Wolfe scholarship had his life not been cut tragically short. I will always remember his quiet nature and his true devotion to his friends and colleagues. He will be missed very much and the hole he has left in our lives will long be with us. That said, I dedicate this week’s not so random note to his memory.

I first encountered Thomas Wolfe when I was ten years old. It was 1961 and I was living in Asheville at the time. One day I spied his name on a historical marker near downtown. It noted that Wolfe was the famous author of Look Homeward, Angel, that he grew up in Asheville and was buried in nearby Riverside Cemetery. I would see the sign each time my parents made the trek from our home in east Asheville, through the Beaucatcher Mountain tunnel and into downtown where I attended weekly swimming lessons at the YMCA, on Woodfin Street.

It was after one of those lessons that I convinced my mother to take me to the Riverside Cemetery so that we might try and find where Thomas Wolfe was buried. Perhaps an odd request from a 10 year old boy? All I knew was that he was a famous author from Asheville, but I knew nothing more about him and I had yet to read one of his books. But I liked the sound of the name . . . and the fact that a famous writer had grown up in the very same town where I lived. My mother humored me and we drove out Broadway Avenue through an old residential neighborhood until we came to the main gate of the cemetery. It is a fairly large cemetery and I recall looking around for quite awhile before we found Wolfe’s grave. There it was . . . a simple red marble marker . . . one of several in the Wolfe family plot. I was saddened to learn he had died a young man. Thirty-seven might seem old to a 10 year old boy, but he was the same age as my parents at the time when he died. His epitaph - "The last voyage, the longest, the best" (taken from the Look Homeward, Angel) - and the other inscription on the tombstone from The Web and the Rock - "Death bent to touch his chosen son with mercy, love and pity, and put the seal of honor on him when he died" - made me believe he was probably in a good place.

I began to learn more about Thomas Wolfe. The boarding house – The Old Kentucky Home – which was owned and operated by Wolfe’s mother and where he lived when he was a young boy, was still standing on Spruce Street, just a couple blocks away from the house where he was born, on Woodfin Street. That house was torn down to make way for the YMCA where I took swimming lessons. In the fall of 1963 I began attending David Millard Junior High School, located in downtown Asheville, on the corner of Oak and College streets. Each morning I would ride an old green and white city bus up Tunnel Road and through the Beaucatcher Mountain tunnel, dropping me off at school. In the afternoon, my friends and I walked up to nearby Pack Square to catch the bus taking us back through the tunnel and home. Many afternoons we would get ice cream at a shop on Spruce Street and walk over and sit on the front steps of the Old Kentucky Home to talk. The house was a memorial to Wolfe, but I no longer can recall whether it was open to the public at that time. I remember thinking about Wolfe growing up in that house and I was very curious what it looked like inside. You could look through the windows, but you could not see very much. I never did go inside - not then - and it all remained a great mystery to me. I do have strong memories of that porch and the times I spent there with my friends. It was there that I first learned that President Kennedy had been murdered in Texas. My friends and I rushed home to be with our families not realizing then that we had left our own childhoods and innocence on that porch on that beautiful autumn Friday afternoon.

My family moved from Asheville that following spring of 1964, and it would be over twenty years before I would return. I am sorry to admit it, but I did not think much about Thomas Wolfe or his books during those many years. In the summer of 1986, I took my wife and young son on vacation in the north Georgia mountains. Our route took us through Asheville, and while we were there I wanted to show them where I once lived and went to school. We walked around downtown and eventually over to Spruce Street where I saw the Old Kentucky Home again. It looked pretty much the way I remembered it even though downtown had grown up around it. Now the house was open for tours and soon we found ourselves snaking through the narrow hallways and up the long flight of stairs to explore every room, niche and cranny. The guide told us about the time Thomas Wolfe had lived there and he came alive for me for perhaps the first time.

It could have ended there. We could have walked out the door at the end of the tour and never gone back. And perhaps Wolfe was correct when he wrote that you can never go home again. Maybe we would have driven on to the Georgia mountains and I would have never thought about Asheville or Thomas Wolfe again. But it did not happen that way. At the end of the tour, I was looking around the small book store located in one of the downstair rooms. There I found postcard of Wolfe boarding a streetcar in Berlin in 1936 with the tower of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche clearly recognizable in the background. I had been to this very spot not long before and the now bombed-out ruins of the Gedächtniskirche tower is one of the more prominent and recognizable landmarks in Berlin. So, Thomas Wolfe and I shared more than I had thought. We both lived in Asheville when we were young and we had both gone to Berlin as young men. While perusing the books in the gift shop, I also came across a display of many earlier editions of Wolfe’s books, including a number of German translations. As an American student of German culture, I am often struck by the number of American writers who are popular in Germany, and by the number of German titles in that small display, I presumed that Wolfe had found an audience in Germany. I purchased a copy of Look Homeward, Angel and read it while I was on vacation. I was stirred by passages describing the old boarding house and I read references to Germany and Germans.

I decided then and there that I wanted to explore Wolfe’s affinity for Germany and I began reading everything he had written (no small task) as well as what others had written about him. I delved into Wolfe’s letters and notebooks and I was suddenly thrust into the small circle of Wolfe scholarship. I joined the Thomas Wolfe Society in 1989, figuring this would put me in touch with others who researched and wrote about Wolfe. I made a number of good and lasting friendships with some wonderful and generous people and to this day I look forward to annual Society meetings as one of the high points of the year. They never disappoint.

When I first saw the name of Thomas Wolfe on that small historic marker in Asheville over 40 years ago, I would have never dreamed that one day I would be involved in a scholarly effort to better define his life, his work, and ultimately, his own understanding of a culture so foreign from the one in which he and I grew up. From reading his name on a sign, to visiting his grave in Riverside Cemetery, to the delight of reading Look Homeward, Angel for the first time, to the rediscovery of this childhood interest some 20 years, to the beginning of a scholarly interest in Wolfe, I have come a long way with Thomas Wolfe.

I have grown up with Thomas Wolfe lurking in the shadows – sometime so close I feel like I can reach out and touch him, that we could sit down on those step of the old boarding house on Spruce Street and talk about a thousand topics. Other times he seems to be on the edge of the shadow. Close enough to know he is there, yet too far away for any meaningful connections. But Thomas Wolfe is always there. And his presence is always stronger when I am in Asheville visiting the Old Kentucky Home on Spruce Street. I find myself standing only a few yards from where I first saw that historical where I came to know who Thomas Wolfe was . . . only a few yards from where the house he was born in once stood on Woodfin Street. It has been a long and rather circuitous route over 47 years. Ironically, when I am in Asheville I realize that Thomas Wolfe had it all wrong. You really can go home again. Ted Mitchell knew that too and I can only hope that his long last voyage is the best.

NEXT WEEK: A Final Measure of Kindness

Monday, December 22, 2008

Acorn School - Part II: Gone But Not Forgotten

Last week’s first installment of "Acorn School" told how I came to attend a one-room schoolhouse in rural southwestern Michigan. This week I want to describe what it was like to attend such a school. In some ways not all that different from other schools, but certainly a throwback to bygone days. It opened this city boy’s eyes to a different way of life.

I have enjoyed and appreciated the comments I have received to date. Please feel free to let me know what you think. In the meantime, here is wishing everyone a Festive Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year! Now to the rest of the story.

Although it was over 50 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. A typical day at Acorn School would begin with the arrival of our teacher (unfortunately I can no longer recall her name) who, like so many teachers assigned to these small schools, was a young woman fresh out of a teachers college. Each day she would prepare the classroom for the arrival her charges; windows would be opened (in winter she would light the wood stove in the corner), and she would raise the flag on the pole outside the front door. At 9:00am she rang the school bell marking the beginning of the day’s lessons. Those of us who arrived early enough would be put to work helping our teacher get ready.

I and my fellow students were seated on benches or at individual desks. Our teacher took daily attendance and we began each day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and usually also a short prayer (a new experience for me). Since there was only one teacher assigned to Acorn School, students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade would be called to the front of the room in groups and there they would have the teacher’s undivided attention while the students from other grades were expected to work quietly and diligently at their benches and desks until it was their time to go to the front of the room and account for themselves.

The morning’s lessons would pause for a brief recess – just enough time to go outside, weather permitting, to stretch our legs and get a breath of fresh air. Back inside lessons would continue until it was time to break for lunch. The afternoon was spent much like the morning with more lessons and another short recess after which the younger students were dismissed for the day so that the teacher could concentrate her attention on the older ones. Once these students were dismissed, the teacher was expected to sweep the floors and straighten up the classroom, although sometime students could be prevailed upon to stay and help.

Instead of beginning my formal education at a large urban elementary school where I would have shared a classroom with Lithuanian, Polish, and Serbian immigrant children from my neighborhood at home, many of whom spoke little English, I had the chance to spend time on my grandparents' Michigan farmstead and attend classes at Acorn School with one teacher and a few other fellow students, all children from neighboring farms who probably thought that all schools were just like Acorn School. I would soon know differently.

Our teacher was counted upon to provide the means necessary to educate, and from time to time, discipline her students; to teach them the ways of the world. The younger students, including myself, were seated closest to the teacher's desk. I can still remember the blonde-haired farm boy who sat next to me – Billy Barkovic – who also became my best friend. He lived in the farm just up the road from my grandparents and, ironically enough, still spoke Serbo-Croatian at home. My other best friend was Jimmy Rowen. I have no idea what ever became of them, but back then we were inseparable. The oldest student in school, and the only one in the eight grade, was a tall, lanky girl who sat all by herself at a desk in the back of the room. Since the teacher spent much of her time with the younger students, the older ones were expected to work on their own with a minimum of supervision. I could not wait until I was older and away from the constant stare of our teacher, although I am quite certain these stares were often due to the extracurricular activities of Billy, Jimmy and myself during class.

Acorn School had few modern conveniences one comes to associate with a city school. Between the teacher's desk and the school's only door was a large, rather forbidding pot-belly wood stove which provided heat during the long and often bitterly cold Michigan winters. Those of us sitting close to the stove managed to stay comfortably warm during the day although I imagine the older kids in the back of the room were not quite so lucky and often had to put on a sweater or jacket while we were shedding our.

Each morning during the winter the first children to reach the school, after trudging through the snow and ice, were expected to carry a piece of firewood inside to feed the fire the teacher had started when she arrived that morning. Students would also take care of other routine chores before school started – cleaning the blackboard and pounding the erasers clean on the front stoop, spreading a fine yellow dusting across the snow.

As young and impressionable students, we labored with the three "Rs" and spelling, all taught through a long and somewhat tedious process of memorization and recitation (I still can name all of the state capitals and the U.S. presidents although I was not quite as talented when it came to multiplication tables). The only relief from this routine was the all too brief recesses in the morning and afternoon, when we would play in the small school yard or in the fields of the neighboring Curtis farm, and the half hour given to lunch when a truck from the local dairy in Paw Paw would stop in front of the school and for a nickel would dispense cups of fresh milk used to wash down the sandwiches we brought from home that morning. Once a week a mobile library would stop and each child would be permitted to check-out one book with the promise to return it the following week. The only other break from the monotony of our lessons was an occasional trip to the outhouse, but only after we were able to convince the teacher that death was imminent. When freed, one could spend a few minutes in solitude, away from the chanting of multiplication tables and the teacher's watchful gaze. During the winter, however, one was less inclined to such diversions, regardless of need, as the cold winter winds often shook the school to its very foundation. But it was more than these cruel winter winds that threatened these small schoolhouses and the rural culture they supported.

Today there is nothing left of Acorn School save the crumbling stone and mortar foundation and the stoop where we use to bang dusty erasers and sit to drink cups of cold milk with our sandwiches. The school yard where we once played is now overgrown with brambles and mature trees and one would never know that a building once stood on this site. Acorn School is gone, but it will never be forgotten.

NEXT WEEK: You Really Can Go Home Again

Monday, December 15, 2008

Acorn School - Part I: Life on a Michigan Farm

This is my third weekly installment of "random thoughts." I am very pleased with the responses and comments I have received so far and I am glad that the things I have written about Florida and Maine have resonated with others. This week my thoughts wander farther afield, to Michigan, where I spent a great deal of time when I was growing up and where I started school in a one-room schoolhouse some fifty years ago (am I giving away too much information here?). Anyway, to the story at hand.

I am beginning to forget my grandparents. They have been gone for over 30 years, but for a quarter century I would know them yet never truly understand their lives on a small farm in southwestern Michigan. My grandfather gave his all to that hardscrabble enterprise, and made a life there for his family. He planted corn in the spring, picked asparagus in mid-summer, baled and gathered the hay and stacked the harvest corn in autumn. As winter’s snow blanketed his fields he would stare to the distant tree line, a rolled cigarette clenched between yellow teeth misshapen and cracked like crib corn as he awaited the thaw, the beginning of a new season that brought little more than the one that slipped away with the first frost of the autumn gone by. I seldom recall him smiling or laughing (my grandmother was the jolly one); his life on that Michigan farm was a difficult one. All their lives my grandparents tried hard to provide for their family. They had seven children. My mother is the oldest. The youngest would die before them. If my grandfather bounced me on his knee and made me laugh when I as a little boy, I no longer remember it. It was a long time ago.

But I do have a very strong memory of the time I came to spend on the family farmstead as I was growing up. It was the autumn of 1956 and I went to live with my grandparents while my parents were traveling for my dad’s job. I was entering kindergarten and so I had to be someplace where I could attend school. This is how I came to begin my academic career in a small one-room schoolhouse in rural Almena Township of Van Buren County.

That autumn I arose shortly after dawn to help my grandfather as he moved through his early morning chores. He stoked the ancient furnace with wood stored in the dark and shadowy basement then walked down the long hill to the barn where his five cows spent the night in the tie-up, giving each her morning ration of alfalfa onto which he drizzled a thick stream of black molasses before the morning milking. He would then feed and water the other animals followed by a trip to the henhouse to gather eggs, some of which would be served for breakfast along with bacon or sausage and a large bowl of oatmeal and milk straight from the cow. What a treat for a city kid like me!

After morning chores and breakfast, I struck off for school along the gravel county road, passing by neighboring farms with their similar fields and barns, each one a landmark I came to recognize on my morning and afternoon walks to and from school – a distance of perhaps a mile and a half although it seemed so much longer at the time. My favorite of these farms was old Bee Earl’s place. He did not keep cows or other livestock. Instead he had rows of whitewashed wooden hives and a small barn in which he would process and bottle his honey, each jar with a generous piece of honeycomb. Bee Earl’s honey was a regular staple on my grandparent’s table.

Along the way to and from school I would encounter or bid farewell to my fellow classmates at Acorn School. At the time I was an only child, but at school I was part of a bigger family. Unlike the city school I could be attending in Chicago or Detroit, I was not merely a face in the crowd. I had become a fundamental part of a real American community although I did not realize it at the time. An essential part of the Michigan landscape for over a century, one-room township schools were far from obsolete and served a vital purpose well into the 1950s. Several generations of Michigan children, including my own, received their education in these schools where teachers and students shared close quarters and often the responsibilities for keeping the school operating. Despite their many successes, one-room schools were ultimately doomed and dwindling rural populations and a new strategies to improve primary education gave rise to newer and larger consolidated schools thus making these smaller schools obsolete and expensive to maintain. It would be several more years before the last of these schools closed, but throughout the later half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century the small one-room schoolhouse seemed almost as prevalent throughout the countryside as the ubiquitous barns and silos.

NEXT WEEK: "Acorn School - Part II: Gone But Not Forgotten"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why "Looking Toward Portugal"?

I have returned to Maryland from more southern climes. Fortunately, the traffic headed north was far less than what we encountered on our southbound journey the previous week. It did not look like early December when we left Florida after the long Thanksgiving holiday, but it sure looks and feels like it back here in the Mid-Atlantic. We even had some snow over the weekend.

This new ‘blog" is barely a week old and I have already had a number of inquiries regarding the significance of its title. Why am I "Looking Toward Portugal"? I suppose this is a legitimate question and there is no big secret mystery. For the past two decades I have been gravitating to the coast of Maine. At first, it was only during our annual summer hiatus, but in recent years I have returned more frequently . . . every chance I get, to be honest. And each time I go back I find myself standing on that rocky shoreline, looking out to sea and pondering this and that. Well, if you gaze in a general easterly direction from the Maine coast, you will see nothing but the rolling swells of the Atlantic. Nova Scotia is out there somewhere, but if you continue across the Atlantic you will eventually arrive on the northern shores of Portugal somewhere near Oporto.

I have come to believe that my life today, and what I hope to accomplish in the years remaining to me, are in no small way tied to the pleasant days I have come to spend on the Maine coast over the past 20+ years. I am constantly reminded of Jack Kerouac’s observations when he stared out across the Atlantic from the shores of Long Island (he naturally gravitated to America’s two coasts) – "this last lip of American land." Writing in On The Road (1957): "Here I was at the end of America . . . no more land . . ., and now there was nowhere to go but back." It reminds us of our limitations, but it also offers a hint of what might be if we only choose to look beyond those far horizons.

So what lies beyond? When I first discovered Maine and its coast in the late 1980s, I often stood on a rugged finger extending into the surf below the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (the one depicted on the Maine state quarter). I also favored Ocean Point, a few miles to the southwest of Pemaquid on the southern extremity of the Boothbay Peninsula. Later I ventured farther Down East to Quoddy Head, and the most eastern point of land in the continental United States (and like Kerouac I am also drawn to the America’s Pacific shore, visiting Quoddy Head’s western counterpoint at Cape Flattery on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula). About five or six years ago I discovered the eastern headlands of Monhegan, a small island located 15 miles off the Maine coast which has long been immortalized in the paintings of the Wyeths (James Wyeth still has a home on Lobster Cove on the island’s southern exposure), Rockwell Kent (who originally built the Wyeth cottage), George Bellows, and so many others. Even today one cannot visit Monhegan’s headlands, coves, and shores without encountering artists discovering and interpreting the island’s landscapes and seascapes for themselves. As I sit here in our dining room in Maryland writing this I am surrounded by several paintings depicting Monhegan Island scenes. The island remains close to my heart even when I am not able to be there.

In fact, it was an artist by the name of Bo Bartlett who gave a name to what I have been doing all these years. Bartlett divides his time between Matinicus Island, which can be seen from Monhegan Island on a clear day, and Vashon Island, near Seattle (yet another who is drawn to America’s two coasts). "Still Point," his summer home and studio are situated on Wheaton Island which forms the small village harbor on Matinicus. He refers to the seaward side of his island as "the Portugal side," and so I attribute "Looking Toward Portugal" to him.

In last week’s column I made reference to Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s tenet that everyone needs "some small place of enchantment to turn to." Although I do enjoy my more and more infrequent sojourns in that swamp and hammock country of north central Florida, it is the coast of Maine that has become my true querencia, the place where I feel most grounded and where I long to return. It has become my place of solitude, solace, and inspiration. Looking out to sea from "the Portugal side" of my own life, and pondering what lies beyond that meeting of water and sky, I know that my grand search will never be over. Certainly not in my lifetime. I will always return to that "last lip of American land."

NEXT WEEK: "Acorn School - Part I" (Part II will appear the following week)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Down on the Creek -- Notes from Florida

“I do not know how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote that to describe her home and farm at Cross Creek, Florida back in the early 1940s. I understand what she meant for I am also drawn to that same swampy backwater with it hammocks of dark, rich soil populated by live oaks, a variety of palms, and the scions of orange trees planted by Miss Rawlings after she purchased the farm 80 years ago. The orange and grapefruit groves were long ago killed off by hard frosts but these legacies remain where the dense hammocks have regained their original foothold. “The hammocks were the same then as now,” Marjorie wrote in Cross Creek (1942), “and will be the same forever if men can be induced to leave them alone.” We can only hope. So each time I return to Florida I try to make time to go to that magical place. And this time is no different.
My son Ian and I drove a grueling 14 hours and 800 miles from Maryland to Gainesville, Florida the day before Thanksgiving. The wife/mom had already been down in Florida for two weeks and so we were anxious for a holiday reunion. We drove it straight through with a couple briefs stops for gas and coffee followed by the attendant pibroch. Luckily, the weather was on our side - sunny, blue skies of a late autumn day. The holiday traffic was pretty thick, as to be expected, and frequently we found ourselves knotted up behind long lines of 18-wheelers moving down along the Eastern Seaboard. There were a few bright spots during an otherwise monotonous drive. Gas at $1.59/gallon in Dillon, South Carolina, near South of the Border. The big decision of the day was where to take a lunch break. The ubiquitous Cracker Barrel restaurant at almost every exit along I-95, or Café Risque, the infamous topless truck stop in North Carolina? The former serves a tastier plate of grits, that’s for certain. Actually, we opted for a favorite pizzeria in Santee, South Carolina only to find that it had been transformed into a nice little Mexican joint with inexpensive but very tasty fare. Later in the evening we safely navigated the notorious speed trap towns of Lawtey and Waldo, on US 301 in north Florida. And it was unsually chilly when we arrived in Gainesville at 8pm
The following day was a big family Thanksgiving feast in Tallahassee which reminded me of the many family Thanksgivings of yore. In more recent years, however, it has just been the three of us eating at a favorite German restaurant in Washington, DC. I have missed the big gatherings and the family camaraderie. Lots of games before dinner with various family factions talking trash about who would win. The important thing is we were all together and we all had fun. Of course, everyone ate much too much. Isn’t that the point in the final analysis?
The weekend after the holiday was spent down in the Tampa Bay area visiting more family. A chance to sneak over to the Gulf of Mexico on a sunny but windy morning, watching the anglers heading off to fish the mangrove swamps along the shoreline, and the shoals and wrecks farther out to sea. There were a couple of afternoons spent on the Sponge Dock at Tarpon Springs, eating some good Greek food in sight of the fishing boats and shrimpers lining the banks of the Anclote River.
Which bring me back to my own “small place of enchantment” in rural Alachua County east of Gainesville. Today is our last day in Florida for this trip and we spend part of it roaming the back roads over by Cross Creek, Micanopy, Island Pond, and Hawthorne. The narrow country roads pass under canopies of live oak festooned with long gray beards of Spanish moss. There is water in Cross Creek and in the River Styx (not always the case), and we observe white herons and egrets wading the sedgy marsh shallows looking for their next meal. We wander around the Rawlings farm and surrounding hammock; we are lucky to have the entire place to ourselves. Again, I am reminded why I like to come back to this special part of Florida. Perhaps Miss Rawlings said it best. “It is necessary to leave the impersonal highway, to step inside the rusty gate and close it behind. One is now inside the orange grove, out of one world and in the mysterious heart of another. And after long years of spiritual homelessness, of nostalgia, here is that mystic loveliness of childhood again. Here is home.”
Tomorrow we arise before the sun and head northward toward our own home in Maryland. The time in my enchanted place has been far too short. But I will return again, and sooner rather than later. So stay tuned for more notes from Florida.

NEXT WEEK: Why “Looking Toward Portugal”?