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    • Happy Congealed Salad Day!

      The turkey is in the oven; the dressing has been made. The table is set, complete with a centerpiece featuring oak leaves turned the color of pennies and cotton bolls from the field right outside the door. The flag is waving in the bright November sun. I am ready for Thanksgiving. But the truth is that I've been ready since Monday. Because, on Monday, I made the congealed salad: Lime Jell-O, cream cheese, crushed pineapple, and pecans, shaped into a wreath by a Tupperware mold. I don't remember the first time Aunt Doris brought the congealed salad to Thanksgiving at Grannie's. It seems as though it was always there, in the 9 x 12 Pyrex dish wedged in between the sweet potato souffle' and Mama's creamed corn. Not everybody liked it, but to me it served as a sort of palate cleanser, a tart eye-opener between the butter-laden side dishes and the even-more-butter-laden desserts. The combination of smooth and crunchy, tangy and sweet made it my favorite -- well, one of my favorites -- on the holiday buffet. After the death of my grandparents, which coincided with a geographical spread of cousins and the arrival of yet another generation, their children began gathering in smaller groups, family units as it were, to celebrate Thanksgiving. The first time I ate turkey and dressing without congealed salad I realized a terrible mistake had been made and quickly got the recipe from Aunt Doris. Every Thanksgiving and every Christmas since then I've made it. Even if I was the only one who ate it. I suspect that every family has a dish like congealed salad, something that might not at first look as though it fits in, that offers a slightly different flavor to an otherwise predictable menu. In fact, that dish might not even have been food. It might be a person. Someone whose ideas, whose language, whose skin color is in contrast to everyone else's. Someone who stands out at first, but who eventually fits in, right there between the sweet potato souffle' and creamed corn and without whom the celebration just wouldn't be the same. I can smell the turkey now. In a few hours I will take it out and carve it. I will set out my own 9 x 12 dishes of dressing and macaroni and cheese. I will pour the vegetables into the bowls. And I will pull out the round glass tray that belonged to Grannie which is where the congealed salad will sit in the very center of Thanksgiving, a reminder that this national holiday is always a very individual one. Copyright 2020

    • Falling Leaves

      The first leaf fell without notice. Loosened its grip on the branch and floated on unseen currents to the ground. The second leaf quickly followed, also without notice. Over a period of days, a week or two, others, many others, joined them and it was only after the back yard was littered with leaves that I noticed. Slow accretion is the way of nature. Nothing happens overnight; it just feels that way to people not paying attention. Falling leaves, fallen leaves are beautiful. Pomegranate red, pumpkin orange, yellow that is not the color of anything else, mottled like tortoise shell. The rustle, the rattle they make as I walk through them, intentionally shuffling, is like the crackle of a fire, the crunching of stiff paper being squeezed into a ball. When I catch sight of one mid-fall, twisting languidly toward the ground, I feel as though I’ve been touched by magic, visited by a fairy. And, yet, I can not fight back the sadness. The beauty is tinged with loss. The trees that have housed birds, shaded me, fed deer will soon be naked, asymmetrical armature silhouetted against a winter sky. Winter, especially this winter, this season into which we march like weary soldiers after a spring, a summer, a fall that force fed us isolation and fear, anger and contention – the four horsemen of some kind of apocalypse – reminds us of how very fragile we are. Fragile like fallen leaves. I hear a phrase in my head, “casting a pall.” That is what falling leaves, in all their beauty, do. They cast a pall, they drop a dark mood over something otherwise merry. Over the past couple of weeks two men that I have known and loved for years have died. One, the big brother of a childhood friend who I got to know in adulthood, and one, a professional contact whose humor and tenderness turned him into a dear compatriot. Hub and Saint Buddy were good men, husbands who loved their wives, fathers who loved their children, citizens who contributed to their community. Their loss, each and both, have cast a pall over us, over me. I can not know the weight of the loss on their wives, their children, but I do understand it. I understand that it is suffocating, that it is deafening, that it is too heavy to carry alone. Which, I suddenly realize, is why we need pallbearers. Not just solemn men who carry their own grief along with the casket, but the friends, the neighbors, the acquaintances who show up with food, who show up with flowers, who simply show up. With each act of acknowledgment of the sorrow, they become pallbearers, helping to carry the pall of the loss. The past nine months have left us all spent. Anyone who is not weary, who is not hungry for hugs and the fellowship of easy laughter, is suspect. That person, I would imagine, is not worthy of being a pallbearer, but the rest of us, those of us who have known loss and sorrow, are more than worthy. We are called. Called to walk alongside each other, to form a company of fragile souls who, recognizing their fragility, march on. Called to pay attention to the falling leaves and the broken hearts and called to search for and share the beauty in both. Copyright 2020

    • Beautyberries and the Sinkhole

      The deck at Sandhill rotted.  The boards softened and splintered and then disintegrated.  The posts and spindles lost their grip on each other.  The finials fell apart. The deck at Sandhill rotted, so it got torn down and a new one is being built. But before the sawing and hammering could start, I had work to do – pruning back the hydrangea, digging up and separating the lily and iris bulbs, and doing something about the beautyberry bush that had spontaneously sprouted under the deck and proceeded to take over one entire corner. The renegade bush had outdone itself this year.  Each of the long heavy branches was at least three feet long and the berries were a brighter shade of magenta than I’d ever seen.  In the early fall sun they glowed like a million tiny globes, perfectly round, perfectly smooth.  The thought of chopping them off, tossing them into the branch, was not a pleasant one. I have, however, done unpleasant things, encountered unpleasant choices, experienced unpleasant consequences many times over, so before I could get sentimental I grabbed the clippers and set to work.  The thinner branches fell cleanly, the thicker ones required two hands on the clipper handles.  The inside of the branches were still green, still alive. It is one thing, I thought, to tear down a deck of rotted boards, but it is quite another to do this – to massacre a thing of beauty simply because of where it grew. Because during the last few weeks I’d been inundated with robocalls and television ads and flyers filling my mailbox, all of which wanted to make sure I knew that America would be destroyed if the other side won in this year’s election, it didn’t take much for my thoughts to turn from the unfortunate beautyberry bush in my backyard to the unfortunate souls all over the world who don’t have to contend with robocalls and television ads and flyers.  Where the absence of the aggravations equates to an absence of freedom.  Where agency is a myth and representative government is a fairy tale.  Where the luxury of complaint is nonexistent simply because of where those souls find themselves growing. On Tuesday morning I drove down my dirt road, turned onto a county-maintained highway, crossed U.S. Highway 301, and followed the pavement to Union Baptist Church where those of us who live in the Sinkhole precinct vote.  I donned my mask, accepted a plastic glove, showed my ID, and proceeded to mark my ballot. I took a sticker and, walking outside to stand between the church cemetery and an oak tree that is probably only a few years younger than the republic, took a rare selfie. The deck at Sandhill rotted.  The beautyberry bush was cut down.  Living things, including democracies, are susceptible to rot, to destruction. That said, the deck is being rebuilt.  The beautyberry bush will probably grow back.  And I believe that this country, whatever damage may be done to it by political party, candidate, or election results, will also recover.  That, as I wrote on the inevitable Facebook post that accompanied that selfie,   all things shall be well and all things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Copyright 2020

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    • Books | Kathy A. Bradley | Author and Writer in se Georgia | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor.   Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. |

      Winner of the Will D. Campbell Prize for Creative Nonfiction; Recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year/Essay (2013) In her second book of essays, Kathy Bradley continues her examination of the natural world as a prism through which to understand the human experience. With her family farm in the coastal plains of South Georgia serving as the anchor, Bradley uses her observations of animal life, agriculture, and the seasons to create what others have called parables, but what she calls “a map key or decoder ring” for some of the dilemmas of twenty-first-century life. Bradley shares the story of how, through wandering, she came to know the land that became her home and how that knowledge worked as ransom to gain her release from societal expectations. “Like numbness beginning to thaw,” she writes, “I felt the pinpricks of pain. I rambled with no purpose beyond looking in order to see, listening so that I might hear.” The chronological stories, four years’ worth of tales that began life as newspaper columns, are inhabited by wild and unpredictable animals, civilized and unpredictable people, moons and cornfields, tides and floods and droughts— each described in sensory detail, each a metaphor rich in meaning. Bradley invites readers along on her wanderings in order that they might find their own meaning in the recounting of commonplace events and the lives of ordinary people. Along the way, Bradley decides to build a labyrinth at the farm, a decision that brings a new perspective to her exploration of the world. “The deliberate and contemplative act of walking an actual labyrinth, the physical movements that I ... imagined would mesh body and spirit and leave me enlightened, the slow and purposeful wandering toward a literal center and back out again has become, instead, a slow and purposeful wondering.” Website Designed by Beola Le'Shaun Consulting Recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year/Essay (2017) Breathing and Walking Around is not a memoir. It is a record of four years’ worth of observations of common people, everyday events, and the natural world made by Kathy Bradley from her home in the coastal plains of South Georgia. A lawyer by training, a storyteller by nature, she shares with precision and layer upon layer of sensory image simple tales that emerge, in the end, as parables. ​ Beginning at Sandhill, the house she built on her family farm, Bradley takes the reader with her as she walks miles of dirt roads with the dogs Lily and Tamar, alert to the details of rural living – the movement of the seasons, the nearness and unpredictability of wildlife, the sights and sounds otherwise drowned out by 21st century living. The meandering continues down the Atlantic beaches, the shorelines of inland lakes, backroads and interstates, and we are at her shoulder as she, like a paleontologist, uncovers joy in the magic and mystery of the familiar and the brand-new. ​ But Breathing and Walking Around is a true story and, so, along with the joy there are moments of questioning and uncertainty, moments when doubt challenges faith. It is in these moments, when Bradley struggles to bring order to her own life, that she most clearly articulates the universal truths that weave through all our stories, ribbons of continuity and hope. Breathing and Walking Around began life as newspaper columns, each dated entry independent and viable on its own, unconnected to any other. Only upon preparation for publication was it clear that they told one story. ​ And that that story was a part of the one big story that includes us all.

    • Kathy A. Bradley | Southeast Georgia Author | www.KathyABradley.com | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor.   Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. |

      Beauty is everywhere. Join Thanks for subscribing, stay tuned! Let's Keep in Touch! ​ Subscribe to our newsletter. Kathy A. Bradley A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley has been writing from her family farm in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor. Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center, for which she received Georgia Author of the Year Awards in 2013 and 2017. She has also received the Will D. Campbell Prize for Creative Nonfiction, was a finalist for the Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Award in Essay, and was a nominee for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA). Meet Kathy Book Kathy Books "Beauty is everywhere. Simple is better. Quiet is a gift. Let’s embrace what we already have, where we already stand, and who we already are.” Website Designed by Beola Le'Shaun Consulting Website Design by Beola Le'Shun Consulting

    • Privacy Policy | Kathy A. Bradley | Author and Writer in southeast Georgia | A lawyer by training and a storyteller by nature, Kathy A. Bradley is a writer in southeast Georgia for more than 20 years as a newspaper columnist and magazine contributor.   Kathy is the author of two books, Breathing and Walking Around and Wondering Toward Center. |

      Kathy A. Bradley privacy policy ​ What type of information do we collect? We receive, collect and store any information you enter on our website or provide us in any other way. In addition, we collect the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the Internet; login; e-mail address; password; computer and connection information and purchase history. We may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, length of visits to certain pages, page interaction information, and methods used to browse away from the page. We also collect personally identifiable information (including name, email, password, communications); payment details (including credit card information), comments, feedback, product reviews, recommendations, and personal profile. ​ ​ How do you collect information? 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Changes and clarifications will take effect immediately upon their posting on the website. If we make material changes to this policy, we will notify you here that it has been updated, so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we use and/or disclose it. Questions and your contact information Provide valid addresses/channels in order for your users or site visitors to be able to contact you. If you would like to: access, correct, amend or delete any personal information we have about you, you are invited to contact us at webmaster@kathyabradley.com.

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