Under the Magnolia Trees

by Sally Hendrick, Editor in Chief

On my walk the other day, I found myself being pulled underneath a grove of Magnolia trees. My mother planted one in our front yard that grew to be the biggest, most beautiful one in town. If you slip into its cover, it's almost impossible to be seen, but close to the trunk are so many hearty branches that make it easy to climb.

Before ours grew to be big enough, I would climb my neighbor's magnolia and play under there for what seemed like hours but was likely only a few minutes.

Something I want in life:

1. Peace and quiet in my immediate circle but with noises swirling all around.
2. A hiding place from which to view the world, where no one sees me, but I can see them.

I am so happy and grateful now that I can see the other side of the mountain, the one that’s been hiding a mysterious and frightening world I knew nothing about before.

I have a gut feeling

Today I notice my gut feels satisfyingly healthy, not too hungry, not too full. When I eat my next morsel, I will study it, feel it, and then finally taste it before I swallow it to feed my healing body.

Here in my blue ocean, I will study my surroundings, feel the weightlessness of my body, and taste the salty brine that won’t let me fall to the very bottom of the sea.

Floating. That’s what I need to do. I need to float through life from now on.

Today my new blouses arrived in the mail, ones that have intricate embroidery, satiny pieces, and colorful tassels to tie at the neck into a bow or however I feel like tying it that day. They’re each unique in their own way, which is why I purchased 7 of them, one for every day of the week. I look pretty in the mirror, and they work well with my favorite pairs of pants with elastic in the waist, so I can wiggle underneath without worry.

I can walk in the park in this cool, crisp weather, and not be drenched with perspiration by the time I get home. I can wear one of my new tops if I like and look like the well, put-together woman that I’ve finally found again after so much plodding and searching.

Nothing to accomplish anymore. Nothing to pine over now.

I just want to go where my comfy shoes take me, and if that’s to sit underneath a small grove of magnolia trees at my favorite park, then so be it. I may take a small folding chair next time I’m there, just so I can sit and watch other people go by. I’ll write. I’ll eat something. I’ll give treats to Hugo, or I’ll just rest a bit before making my way back home.

Imagine reading a book in my new hiding place!📖😀

Under these magnolias, there are fingers rooted to the ground, easily tripped over if not careful.

Photo credit: Sally Hendrick, Bicentennial Mall State Park in Nashville, TN.

The waxy brown leaves that have fallen away from its branches can get slick if not mindful. For now there is no fragrance to draw into my nose, but by May or June, this place will smell like a woman’s dressing room sprayed with White Shoulders eau de cologne that reminds me of my grandmother. Even the knuckles of the roots remind me of her hands, the ones I studied so carefully as they floated across the piano keys with such grace.

Our mantel every winter was decorated with patches of dark-green magnolia leaves tied together with floral wire covered by thick, white ribbons tied into perfect bows. The tendrils of the ends would hang down so beautifully with an angled cut to make them look like pointed ballerina toes. My mother had such talent with her hands’ eyes, not missing a spot that could be spruced up with any sort of greenery she could find in our yard, a neighbor’s, or at the family farm.

Whatever happens next is exactly what my gut will say is to happen, and I am happy to study, feel, and taste it everyday as I float through the rest of my days.

Do you have an essay, poem, cultural travel story, or deep-dive commentary piece you'd like to submit for publication? Just click here to apply online, and we'll give it our love and attention for consideration.


What you don't know about Jim Crow

by Sally Hendrick

Two little girls in rural West Tennessee are best friends but only in secret. Separated by a cotton field, their lives couldn't be any more different. Sudie's and Mabie's friendship, beautiful yet tragic, leaves a mark for generations to come.

Sally takes you on a journey back in time to the early 1900's Jim Crow South, as she imagines what life was like for her grandmother, Sudie, weaving together memories from her own childhood and stories from her family, even the black women who raised her.

Coming someday soon. Please enjoy this chapter for now.

Read a chapter for free