We spend our Saturday away from the motel room, TV and reporters in blue jackets standing in the rain predicting doom and the end of Florida by looking for a good bookstore. Siri gives us the NewSouth Bookstore in downtown Montgomery, twenty minutes away.

We buy a stack of books. The surrounding businesses are closed for the weekend. The bookseller follows us out and directs us to a coffee shop down the block on Court Square where a bronze fountain stands at its center. Turning back to fill our parking meter, she assure us we don’t need to. No one checks.

The goddess Hebe, the water bearer, crowns the tiered fountain. The water comes from an artesian well used by First Peoples until the arrival of the colonialist settlers who put the run on them. Slaves were auctioned here. This is where Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat.

We buy ourselves fancy coffees from Prevail Union, a white wall minimalist space, which shares an entrance to the barbershop. Men sit waiting their turn in the chair.

Taking our drinks we start north towards the capital buildings. A TV reporter with a cameraman asks if I’ve come from Florida? I hurry up to Keith and Sam, each of us meandering in at our own pace up the quiet street. A historical marker tells us the Civil War began on the second floor of an old building– the sending of some fateful order by telegram. Two streets up, we peek into the basement of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church and are ushered into Dr. King’s pastoral office,   an imposing desk crowds the small wood-panelled room. Adjacent the Capitol we tour the First White House of the Confederacy. We overhear a docent’s comments about Confederate statues in the news. We study the monuments that surround the Capitol. Amongst Confederate surgeons and soldiers stands a Loblolly Pine grown from a seed that went to the moon on Apollo 14. “The Moon Tree.”

Directly across the street from Martin Luther King’s church looming over the entire downtown is the RSA Building. It’s size and newness is incongruous with all that this little corner is striving to hold. I’ve read that if you want to know what a society most values, look for its tallest building. The RSA Building is a bank.

Montgomery welcomes us, the refugees of a hurricane. She feels like a city that has learned much about herself and yet is baffled by which part is most who she is now. When you have been all things, how can you possibly settle for something as archaic as a label? Is she what she’s proud of? Is she what she’s ashamed of? What she fights for? What she fights against?

Our past lives are rich with history of times we were visionary, and times we were terribly misguided.

In this city, these strange unions humming along in what surely must be one powerful vortex, all that we are meant to learn from the system of reincarnation seems vibrantly alive. We are all of it. We are moon trees growing out of dark, mysterious spaces.

The Prevail Union Coffee Brewers have a quote from William Faulkner that I think sums it up pretty well. “Man will not merely endure, he will prevail… because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion, sacrifice and endurance”.

Something to ponder while sitting out Nature’s destruction.

 

    Mountain Phobia

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