Today, Patrick's father took us on a drive around Madison and into the surrounding fields, to show me what a cotton field looks like. Most of the cotton has been harvested, but there were a few stalks in the wet fields still standing, dry brown sticks with tufts of white stuck to the tops. We passed an empty lot, which Alan said used to be a cotton field. They're building houses there in the new year, but for now, the ground is torn up, and the mud is red, red and wet and clay earth that must be why crops like cotton and tobacco grow so well down here.
I am further south than I've ever been.
We drove out to Guntersville, AL for dinner tonight, to a restaurant on a lakeshore that serves the "Riverboat Special," a plate of fried catfish, fries, and hush puppies, with a side of cornbread, the best coleslaw I've ever had, pickled onions, mustard greens, and sweet tea. There is so much more food to eat.
I've seen more churches in the small town of Madison--smaller by far than Bellingham--than there probably are in all of Whatcom & Skagit counties combined. Tomorrow, I will go to Christmas Eve service at Patrick's father's church, and sing hymns and light candles--something I am not sure if I've done since I was a child living in small town Eastern Washington.
Tomorrow, I will go buy a present with Patrick for his giant beagle named Barney, a family tradition that I've heard about for two years. Every year, Patrick buys Barney a Christmas present, a toy or a bone or a ball. He wraps it, puts it under the tree, and somehow Barney always knows, every year, which present is his, and noses it and worries it and paws it until Christmas morning. Barney loves Christmas.