Barbara Brown Taylor is the author of some rollicking good reads, especially if you enjoy elegant prose with an introspective, Episcopalian vibe. (Who doesn’t?) Check out the trilogy in this order: Leaving Church, An Altar in the World and, my favorite, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Taylor lives, I’m told, near Clarkesville, Georgia.
Dear Barbara Brown Taylor,
My mom and I, we went looking for you last week.
Truth be told, I was the one driving the search.
“Who?” a friend asked when I told her I was going on a self-guided BBT Tour. “Ugh. Can’t you be a fan of a normal celebrity, like Scott Eastwood?”
I don’t know who Scott Eastwood is, so no. Another friend, an aspiring author like me, was more supportive: “Someday, BBT will be going on the LKB Tour.”
You’re probably pretty nervous at this point, BBT. Let me explain:
I was reading your book, Leaving Church, on the porch one golden September afternoon, and it was one of those rare and delicious I-half-thought-it-but-you-said-it (and said it so beautifully) experiences. I followed my husband around the rest of the day with the dog-eared book, Let me just read you this one paragraph…
My mom phoned that night and said she’d figured out a place for us to meet between our two houses for a mother-daughter getaway: She’d heard about a cozy inn near Clarkesville. Had I heard of Clarkesville?
Maybe a little.
I hopped on Amazon and lickety-split ordered Mom a copy of Leaving Church. Read it and we’ll make a mini book club meeting of our trip, I told her. She was game. Better yet, Mom wound up really liking the book, especially the bit about thin places.
Glad you tossed that in there, BBT.
First things first, Mom and I met for a long lunch at the Copper Pot downtown. Lunch always comes first, even before literary sight-seeing. Then we headed straight over to Grace-Calvary, exploring the charming old church slowly, with due reverence. Oh, those enormous, wavy glass windows! The tiny balcony! And Mom and I, we’re suckers for a pew door. Outside, we walked the labyrinth, wondered about the age of the bending hemlocks, reminisced about Episcopal churches we’d met through the years.
Grace-Calvary behind us, Mom was ready to comb each and every antique shop, walk the woods in pursuit of a waterfall, take our wine in front of the inn’s lobby fireplace. But my appetite had only been whet—what better places are there than places read about in books (besides, perhaps, thin places)?
So, naturally, I turned to Google. And lo and behold Ed, Mr. BBT himself, sells organic vegetables and such. What does this mean? we marveled. Praying for a homey sign at the end of the drive announcing “Pick Your Own Apples” or “Taste and See: Local Honey” or maybe “Kale Sale,” we traveled the winding way to Indian Ridge Farm. Alas, the only sign we met with warned that trespassers would be prosecuted.
Law-abiding if nothing else, we took off and found yet another shop. Mom bought some yard art; I shuffled around the art supplies aisle. Oil paints hold an allure, but still. This was not a thin place.
That night, our last in Clarkesville, we went to Harvest Habersham and ordered farm-to-table foodie food, some of it sourced from Indian Ridge. We settled into a booth, Mom with a Malbec and me with a spiced concoction called an autumn Manhattan, which warmed me to my toes. I spotted a foursome at a table across the restaurant—a woman with BBT-ish hair sat with her back to me. (Do you know how many ladies have BBT-ish hair from the back? It’s exhausting.) Wouldn’t that be something? we whispered. Would we say hello? Confess all? Or put our heads down and giggle like middle schoolers over our fig leaf-wrapped blue cheese and pickled scuppernongs?
The woman started to stand to go. Before she turned around, I knew. The BBT I had a professional crush on would never, ever wear an oversized black sweatshirt splashed with giant pink flamingos. Not to dinner, anyway.
After a meal to end all meals, Mom and I bid the lovely restaurant owner, Laura, goodnight, and I worked up the nerve (of which I have no shortage, you are likely thinking) to ask if the Indian Ridge folk ever came in. Her face lit up when I mentioned you.
“You know, every now and then I get this feeling: this is an Ed and Barbara night,” Laura said. “I’m usually right. I had that feeling tonight, but it was not to be.”
Ah, well. I think Mom was laughing at me by this point. But she’s partly to blame—when I was a kid she took me to a Madeleine L’Engle talk at the local library. I was hooked: on books, on writers, on the idea of the creator of such magic standing in a room explaining how rabbits are pulled from hats.
BBT, I know you’re an introverted romantic with a touch of OCD (same here), so all this attention has the potential to be terribly uncomfortable. I tried to go through proper channels. Your lecture was sold out, booked solid, I tell you.
My only choice, I now see, is to write the book worthy of an LKB tour.
p.s. My haunts: Mugs Coffee Shop in downtown Alpharetta (the table in the corner by the window), the city library or the garden outside, my house on Henderson Road, the white Cape Cod with blue shutters…