Monday, June 8, 2009

Florida by Any Other Name

(In lieu of the beach, an interesting night in Ozark, Alabama.)

Rather then live in one of the homes that line Ozark's (Alabama) main street, when J.'s uncle was relocated to Alabama he and his wife rebuilt a near exact replica of their Florida home on top of a red clay hill they razed of trees then sodded.

Had I closed my eyes as we drove up their long, private drive-way and opened them in front of the house I would have believed to be back in Florida -- where I grew up. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the front of the house, but with its stuccoed walls, cool color, and breezy windows, it was a dead-ringer for one of the homes along Bayshore Boulevard on the Tampa Bay.

Inside was no different (although the furniture lent itself to a southern setting.) With the exception of the living room and one guest bedroom, the interior walls were painted aubergine, green, and gray. The ceiling in the dining and sitting room boasted vaulted ceilings with alternating panels of white and purple ("I just love purple," Aunt M. told us.) In lieu of a red room (which is ubiquitous in the South) there were two rooms painted coral. The house seemed to unfold before us; each room opening into the other in an inviting way.

We spent most of our time in the kitchen with J.'s aunt. She bustled around the island as she opened drawers that revealed high-end appliances and cherished service. She had a story for everything, including a ribbon of plates that decorated the wall above the cabinets. (The first few were gifts, and then she started collecting them.) An early 1900s Russian coffee urn was most interesting thing in the house, though it was not actually in the kitchen. "Uncle B. smuggled that out of Russia under Jimmy Carter seat in a limo when he was in the Secret Service," Aunt M. gushed.

We ate pork tenderloin that night served with a sticky bourbon sauce and sweet potatoes. For dessert, a simple pound cake. Afterwards, J. and I sat on a "snuggler" couch reading, then we watched a film with the older company. I barely made it to bed, but when I did, sleep was thick. Morning came and I awoke cocooned in a pink glow. Were there a noise machine, I could have tricked myself into believing the Gulf was just outside my window.

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