I checked something off the Life List today. And it was a good one.
I ate shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner, followed by…I hope you’re sitting down for this part…honeysuckle sorbet. It’s been on my Life List for just under a year now. I know it’s been just under a year because someone told me about the honeysuckle sorbet last spring, at the tail end of honeysuckle season…a week too late for me to try it. I vowed not to let another season pass me by like that, just watch it tumble past while I took for granted that the honeysuckle would bloom endlessly, until I was good and ready to enjoy it. Honeysuckle will not wait for you, my friends. You have to operate on its time schedule.
So I have been stalking the Crook’s Corner menu, waiting for the honeysuckle sorbet to appear. I talked Audrey into driving to Chapel Hill with me for the occasion. I started with shrimp and grits, because I will never, ever turn down shrimp and grits. These are lighter than you’d imagine, with a kick of lemon that ties the whole thing together. Crazy good.
But not as good as the honeysuckle sorbet. When it came, I had a moment of…well, not panic, exactly, but definitely trepidation. “Wait!” I told Audrey before we started. “I’m not ready. I mean, there’s before I taste honeysuckle sorbet, and after I taste honeysuckle sorbet, and what if this changes everything?”
Audrey is good at psychology, though, whether we’re talking about sorbet or Life Lists or Why I Am Terrified to Cut My Hair Short. She raised an eyebrow. “Yep,” she said. “Everything will be different. And still good. Better, even.”
I needed things to be better. I was counting on things to be better. Things in North Carolina were downright unpleasant this week. It is not our finest hour, as a citizenry. I’m not proud of the way things went, this go-round. I do, however, still love this state; it’s where my roots are, and where my home is, and I’m willing to stick around and work to make it better. There’s so much about North Carolina that’s beautiful, and pure, and good. I looked hard at my honeysuckle sorbet. I realized I was asking too much of it. I scooped off a tiny bite.
It tasted, friends, like joy and sunshine. It tasted like wild, sweet things growing at the edges of fertile fields. It tasted like mild, dusky evenings and rambles through thickets and morning dew and backyard gardens and sun shining through raindrops and children laughing. It tasted like Carolina.
And it was perfect.