Mary Alice Monroe to SeniorNet Books:
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What I want to know is: If all of this was stopped, would the sweetgrass and the coastal lands come back?? Wouldn't it be great if we quit rebuilding and building and returned the coast to its natural state??
Will check out the links here after I get home Tuesday. My braother's laptop is too small for heavy reading.
How do the references to nature parallel what seems to be happening to the people in the opening pages? What tone do the descriptions in the very opening pages seem to give to the book? Is it one of sunshine and happiness or do you feel a threat? And if a threat, how many different sources does it have? What effect did this beginning have on you personally?
Let's list the broader issues that this statement encompasses, both in the book and in life in general, what would you say are some possible themes developing here?
Is it realistic for Preston to blame his son Morgan for his troubles? What happens when a grown child seems to need to go his own way or seems not to value what his parents have sacrificed so much for? The Blakeleys in this book have owned and run Sweetgrass Plantation for 8 generations, that's a long time. What seems most important to Preston, his son or his land?
Do you know of any other similar situation in life where a father hoped to establish a dynasty and failed? Is there something illogical about this wish? Whose side would you be on in this case? Morgan's or his fathers?
I found the descriptions of the weather, the beautiful low country's proximity to the wetlands and the ocean so familiar. The losses of the sweet grasses are juxaposed against a backdrop of dysfunction and sadness of many family losses. A way of life for the Gulas may be coming to an end also.
What hiding-place do we look to, what help, if the earth itself is causing the ruin, if what protects us, upholds us, on which cities are built, which some speak of as kind of foundation of the universe, separates and reels?
health the marriage the heritage, keeping Sweetgrass for another generation, the loss of "home," I am not sure we can say the parent/ child relationship here is crumbling, it may HAVE crumbled and are you seeing just a tad of jealousy there from Preston towards his son? I need to read that part again. nature? Not sure we've gotten to this part.
Though she had never said so openly, it was clearly understood by both women that even tho Mama June owned Sweetgrass, she wasn't from Sweetgrass. And that fact was a major burr under Adele's seat.
How realistic is that idea? What traits does this crisis and this decision bring out in each character? What do their reactions tell the reader about each of them? Did June have a choice in bringing Preston home? Why or why not?
"I realized I was no kind of friend to let you go through this alone. Not after all we've been through together. Now, I cant do all I used to—and neither can you. But together we'll manage. I'll come by to make sure the house is running smoothly and make certain you're not starving while you tend to your husband. And I'll lend an ear when you need it. It's the least any friend could do." (page 90).
I think this relationship between these two women is extraordinary, but it seemed to start out differently when June first decided to take the way past the sweetgrass basket stand, didn't it? How long had it been?
On the subject of choices, Adele doesn't seem to think June has any:"…everyone knows that Preston shielded you from financial decisions. You preferred it that way. Frankly, you can't afford to bring him home. There'll be medical costs, a decrease in family income and a rise in all of your fixed expenditures. You have to face the facts. You must consolidate and sell your assets." (page 84).
I am not sure what Adele means here, why would there be a decrease in family income? They are …what 65 and 68? And what's in it for Adele, anyway? I can't figure her out, she actually, like Queen Mary, takes things here and there that she wants!!! Can you believe that?
June says I can't sell Sweetgrass, "this isn't just about selling property. This is the family heritage. Preston has devoted his life to preserving it. Once Sweetgrass is gone, what will happen to us, to the family?"
There's that question again, what is family? And there is Preston's concern again, and it's not love, or is it? Is family people you are attached to by blood or marriage or can it be something else? Is it the notion of a house and land or is it something else? It's a good question to ask in 2005, post Dan Quayle, anyway.
Anna, good points about choices, and I remember the laying out in the parlor, too, of those deceased,
So we have lots of great new focus points today, thanks to you all. What to you IS the pivotal point of what we've read so far? Is it the phone call? Is it the stroke? What ideas do you have about anything said here or in the heading, let's hear from YOU!!
On my father's side of the family, I have the picture of my GGrandfather and his third wife and children in front of their new home on their farm in Union City, Indiana from the 1890's. I have stayed in that house many times when my aunt and uncle lived there. And, I took a picture of it in 1999 and one can view the many changes that were made. Its still a lovely old farmhouse but my family moved on as they aged and needed to be in town. This is more than I wanted to say here. For me, its nice to have seen some of the family homes but its the people that I remember and love to tell stories about. I can move anywhere with my memories and still feel at home. I hope my children feel the same way.
Andy, I share your feeling about the beach. It may sound foolish, but I think if everyone lived by the beach there would be no wars, tho I don't know if history would bear me out there. Thinking back, for much of my life lived near water -- not always in sight, but there. Lake Michigan, the Atlantic, and the Missippi River.
What brought Morgan home? He didn't get his father's message until several days after the fact because he had been away from his home. I think his sister Nan, and we haven't said much about Nan, called him and told him about the stroke. Will have to go back and check. I don't thnk Mama June called him. She was dumbfounded when he came home.
Like some of you, my children really don't have a place to go "home" to as we moved several times and none of them lived for a long period of time where I have lived the past 28 years. but they have made their own homes.
Denjer, I'm with you-- let's not be too hard on Adele yet, b _ _ _ as she seems. What does she have? A home? A family?
One final thought -- I love my family, and each time I come here I get to know my grandchildren a little better. But right now, sitting in my son's house, I'm glad no one will be home until 4 pm.
They just didn’t get it. Matters of family didn't register. She was sick to death of listening to their endless sports reports or excruciating details about cars. Sometimes she felt as thought she were talking to herself throughout the meal, desperately trying to engage them in conversation while they ignored her and shoveled food.
"You think you know everything just because you got that college degree. Well there's a lot to know about people and life that you can't learn in books."
"So many years had passed since that afternoon. Yet sitting on the side of his bed, Mama June wondered if she'd had many moments in her life as pure as that one in a flat-bottomed boat. She felt again the girlish rush she'd felt that day...."
Page 176: she reached over to pull back the gingham curtain and peer out the window. Pale yellow-and-pink light flooded the marsh as dawn rose over the east. In these precious minutes before the sun shone high and bright, the air felt fresh and cool against her cheeks. Purple martins were dipping ans diving across a brilliant azure sky in a glorious dawn dance…
In Sweetgrass, Mama June had to journey through the past--the good and the bad--to reach truth. She was lost in the fog of a hazy past because of false memories or deliberately discarded/avoided ones. After all, she followed her mother's advice of, "don't think of that now." I think many people do this from time to time. In her case, the tragedies of Tripp's and her son's deaths were overwhelming. I sympathize with that kind of loss.
I do know we can't just give up on it. We're passing on tradition. Both of us. There's too much a stake for the future generations to just let it all go. There has to be a way to pass it down somehow. To keep the land safe, the sweetgrass safe. 'Cause once it's gone, it's gone forever.
That's a great series of lines and they apply to not only Sweetgrass and the baskets, and ecology, but also I think you can apply it to Mama June's own life, that was very touching, she and the letters in the attic.
Do you have any old letters? Have you kept them? What did they show you about the writer OR you?
And here's one final line I really like:How ironic, she thought, to store the past but never tend to it." (page 201).
What does that mean? How could you "tend" the past?
(hahah I did have to laugh at the opening little lines for Chapter 8. "The construction of the Cooper River Bridge…" )
When we went to the Isle of Palms this past January and went across to the SC Aquarium we were one wild eyed bunch assembling in that parking lot! I have NEVER seen anything like that horror of a bridge, and hope I never do again, never. Just when you think you're going to die of a heart attack but it's over, like a roller coaster it starts all over again! Everybody was wide eyed and slightly out of breath! Hahahaha
Golly this is MUCH too long, hard to stop, what do you think about any or all of these things or anything else you've noticed? Which character seems to be changing the most?
A blade of sweetgrass for your thoughts!
That's a good thing, isn't it? Going over things we've done or said in our mind, trying to get things straight.Now let's ask you, if you have a painful memory, do you personally feel going over it helps or hurts?
For years hers had been a stale, tired marriage, one filled with disillusionment and disappointments. Her and Preston's conversations were perfunctory. They didn't share interests, nor did they even try any longer. They'd fallen into a routine of isolation. He often preferred to be alone than with her. He went for walks with is dog or spent time in his office with the door closed. This did not distress her, as she felt the same.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened.--T.S. Eliot
How do the descriptions of the scenery and nature foreshadow what's about to happen? Why was it important for Morgan to relive the scene in the boat when his brother died and what did he learn from the "conversation" with his brother?
You want to continue to own and manage your land and determine what it looks like 20, 50, or 100 years from now. You are willing to give up certain rights, such as the right to large-scale development for you and all future owners. You have a need for potential significant tax deductions and credits. Estate taxes are forcing you to sell land against your wishes