Who would think that wandering aimlessly throughout Midtown could be calming? It is not quiet, it is not serene. Perhaps it is a melding with the constant movement of the masses that is trance-inducing. Whatever it is, I find it odd and pleasant. But, why question what works?

Rizzoli Bookstore catches my eye. Here I am in the city at last, and I can’t shake the habitual need of a good book and a place to crash. Rizzoli’s is the quintessential bookstore.

Built-in oak bookshelves run from floor to ceiling in the three-storied space. The open staircase and rooms are lit with chandeliers, although the interior is flooded with natural light from windows that make up the entire front façade. I would shop here for no other reason than to take pleasure in the sheer beauty of the place.

I browse the children’s section and try to find a gift for the kids.

Some of my earliest memories are related to books. Curled up in her lap, Mother would read to me, coax me into following with her; running my finger across the words, I trailed her motions from left to right. Moving through the book, we spent as much time discussing the illustrations as we did the meaning. Always busiest during those days before I entered school, I knew this was precious time she set aside especially for me.

I cannot help but smile when I come across the Miroslav Sasek collection. THIS IS ROME reminds me of a dear childhood friend. How many times, I wonder, did she carry it and others back and forth between our houses tucked away in an old yellow Samsonite suitcase she had covered with stickers?

Scanning the section further, I notice they don’t have a copy of Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 ALABAMA GHOSTS and JEFFREY. There isn’t a bookstore in all the South that doesn’t have it and Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD up front and on display. With good reason – for gifted storytellers are held in much esteem in our region. Storytelling seems a talent bestowed before birth, rather than being acquired with time and knowledge.

Books brand within the heart a place that is all their own. As a child, Beatrix Potter was my favorite author and was an easy bribe that Mother would use to get me to behave during church services. If I managed to mind my manners throughout the sermon, she would let me visit the tiny library while she straightened her Sunday school classroom.

One afternoon she took longer than usual and as I sat there turning the glossy pages, I thought how wonderful it would be to take the book home. Not check it out, but take it, for it to be mine. Sliding off my Mary Janes so they didn’t click against the hardwood floor, I tip-toed to her classroom and peeked through the door. Sure that she was thoroughly preoccupied arranging art projects and cleaning away the paints, I took the book and slid it under the backseat of our car. After my bath that night I reread it, ran my fingers over the same glossy illustrations then tucked it away underneath my bed. But, when I rolled over to say my prayers, I realized I couldn’t.

The following Sunday I returned it to the library and apologized. Home from church and still filled with guilt, I walked down the road to my best friend’s house. Since it seemed we often wound up in trouble together, I thought she might be the best person with whom I should confide. Sitting at the kitchen table, we made pineapple sandwiches and listened to her mother carry on a conversation with Ricardo Montalbán who was on TV.

We slathered mounds of mayo on soft white bread, tore slices of pineapple to fit, then crammed our mouths full. These were our favorite summertime sandwiches and they had become an afternoon ritual. In between mouthfuls, I told her what I’d done then asked her the all-consuming question. “Do you think I am going to hell?”

Laughter in the living room rose above the noise of the TV. Zandra’s mother came into the room, walked to the table and sat down with us. She asked if I would make her a sandwich.

I nodded yes and was glad. It gave my eyes a place to go, helped to ease my embarrassment. She took the sandwich then and tried it, saying between bites, “People from Alaska don’t eat pineapple sandwiches.” I almost reminded her that she was Mexican, but took another bite instead. I knew that by trying my sandwich, she was being nice. Besides, she couldn’t fuss with a full-mouth.

“Now, your people are Baptist, right?”
“Yes mam,” I said, trying not to look down.
“And you are saved, isn’t that right?”
“Yes mam,” I responded quickly.
“Then why do you worry that you will go to hell if you are saved and your church believes that once saved always saved?”

I had to think about this for a minute. I had heard this quoted often enough, once used in defense after a certain man in my family stated without thought that Sunday morning fishing was better than fishing any other day of the week. And, then I told her the truth. “Because, I don’t believe that people who keep doing bad things get to go to heaven just because they once got saved. Unless people who do bad things are really, really sorry and pray for forgiveness, I think they go to hell with all the other people who do bad things,” I explained.
Putting her hand on top of mine, she laughed and said, “Child, you are not Baptist at all! You are Catholic!”

It would be years later before I realized that, for me, comparing the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church and my conservative Protestant Church was much like comparing the platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties. While I agreed with many beliefs and issues from each, I could not agree with all from either. This shared meal and conversation is my last memory of the family with whom I was so close. At the end of summer, my parents purchased land for our new home and we moved from our small neighborhood out into the country. My friend and her parents returned to Alaska. But, our common, once shared love of books continued.

Back outside into the city and noise, the sun is shining and I decide that sightseeing, squeezed in with the few stores I want to visit, might not be a bad thing. On Madison Avenue, I pause to take in the Roosevelt Hotel New York. Built in 1924, it was dubbed the “Grand Dame of Madison Avenue.”
I make my way inside. A stairway leads guests up into the lobby. The magnificent chandelier, marbled floors and the black ironwork immediately remind me of New Orleans. How wonderful it would have been to be a guest here during the twenties, engulfed in the bustle of gay nightlife!

Not having anything else nearby I care to see, I head for Bergdorf Goodman, and wish again that it was the holiday season, that their famous storefront windows were decorated for Christmas.

Basement Level, I find the beauty department and perfume.
I think my love of perfume began with an obsession for bottles. Later, it was an association of scent. There have been times when I have caught a sliver, a hint of a scent; I remember it, but cannot at that moment place it, rather it is only the pleasant sensation of association I recall. Chanel No 5, fox fur and pointy high heels remind me of my GrandMosie readying to go out on the town; short platinum hair curled and pinned. Lemon and verbena lotion mingled with an earlier dabbing of Chloe remind me of my Grandmother Libby, always elegant, even when tending her flowerbeds; auburn locks tucked beneath a wide brimmed straw hat.

Looking about, I could make a wish list a mile long. Everything about this place calls out to the female in me; white marble floors, colorful glass jars set atop white, French-style cases. The place is both very modern and chic. Moving from counter to counter, I find myself lingering over the Coco Mademoiselle. Hints of patchouli and orange have me walking away wanting.

Next I head to Takashimaya for the flower arrangements, tarry for a while admiring the gardenias and orchids, ponder a pot of ginger tea and finger sandwiches, then decide I’d rather have real food and so hail a taxi to Lower East Side. Arriving at Katz’s, I pile my belongings onto the table and slide into a chair.

Katz’s Delicatessen opened in the Lower East Side in 1888. The aroma, so wonderfully rich, is agonizing. I look about. It seems nothing has changed since I was here in the early 90s! The establishment opened over a hundred years ago and became a favorite neighborhood eatery. They even provide the same military shipping for our soldiers overseas that became so popular during World War II with the slogan, “Send a salami to your boy in the Army.”

The menu offers too much! “New York Egg Cream with chocolate or vanilla syrup” jumps from the menu. Mixed with milk and a little seltzer it is listed as Heaven on Earth. Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain egg. Smiling, I notice it is only offered in Large or X- Large, so dessert will be first. When it arrives, the waiter pauses to ask, “Well, what do you think?”

“It is very similar to an old fashioned ice cream soda, but better,” I tell him, not just being polite.

It is impossible to be unhappy while eating anything that holds even the slightest semblance to ice cream. I remember stopping at a cafe for a sundae after a day of shopping with my aunt Karen on my first trip to New York. The waitress had set before us a monstrous dessert unlike any sundae I had ever seen. Of course, this was long before there was such a thing as Coldstone Creamery or Maggie Moo’s where ice creams and toppings are blended into strange and wonderful confections. My favorite way to eat ice cream however, is the way my Pop-Pop prepared it. He would pack a tall glass with store bought chocolate ice cream, then fill it with cold milk and place it in the freezer. He left it there just long enough for the milk to ice over. The chocolate took on a thick frosty consistency, icy around the edges. The mix of almost frozen milk against the icy chocolate was incomparable.
I wonder how many valuable memories I have lost along the way. So many I am sure. And yet, the memories where food and family are intertwined are most often remembered.

Scanning the menu a second time because I cannot choose, I notice they offer tongue. I thought only Southerners still ate these things? Tongue, tripe, knuckles, ears, feet or snout, some things are meant to be thrown out! That is unless they are cooked down, rendered unrecognizable, and provide the rich base for black-eyed peas, pintos, or stew. Liver is a delicious exception.

I decide on the corned beef, which the menu states requires a full month of dry curing. A gentleman seated at a neighboring table is presented with his cheesesteak just as I’ve placed my order. If he were still within earshot, I’d recall my waiter, but he is too far away and caught up in conversation with someone who must be a local. I sit and sip my dessert. People watching, I try to pick out other tourists. We are easy to detect.
Nearby, a couple argues and it is apparent by the disdain with which they regard each other that an agreement may not be reached any time soon.

For every problem, is there a solution? I have been told that there is and I have sat long in debate on why so often it is that people refuse the answer. Dismissive of the solution, people instead cling to anger or personal agendas. My friend and I had discussed it at some length when in closing he tied the answer up neatly, stating, “For there to be a compromise, something has to be more important than self. In choosing one thing, you must be willing to give up the other. Rarely do you get the cake, the platter it sits upon, the china, the silverware and someone to feed it to you.”

Elbow deep in corned beef, I’ve yet to eat so much that I cannot hear when I notice the already raised voices of the impassioned pair rise yet higher. The next question comes quiet and fierce, “What do I have to do for this to be over?” The query matches the scowl on his face. She says nothing, just stands and walks away. And, I look past them to the waiter who lingers, as if searching for something to say.

What is necessary to gain emotional independence? Can it be removed like shellac, this film of need -scraped away, flaked off, filed down, down to nothingness? In reality when you are guarded from the pain that can be inflicted by another, there is only so much happiness you can allow. When you begin to deaden an area of the heart, can it be contained? Or, once allowed to set in, does the deadening continue to spread like Gangrene and rot away at what little good flesh is left? Packing away the remaining majority of my sandwich, I head back out into the streets, southward again.

The streets become more brilliant in color, and heavy with scent. Teenagers loiter around the storefronts. No one attempts to send them away. Chinatown! Fish and turtle fresh from the boat line the walkway and crabs with brilliant unbound blue claws move about within tattered baskets, hapless, oblivious to their demise.

Rummaging through the piles of trinkets in a souvenir shop, I realize I am at a loss. Shuffling things, I call the children. Telling them where I am and describing everything, I ask what they would like, then purchase a flat screen print fan for Anderson and a variety of Chinese coins for Isaac.

A sign in a restaurant across the street advertises crispy fried soft shell crabs and steamed mussels. Another lists Dim Sum. I will have to return! The streets are full of people and full of stuff. I like this overcrowded, busy feel, with people smiling and chatting in the warm sun. The place seems so contained; a contradiction I admit, because you side step something strewn across every curb.

A fantastic shop catches my eye. From floor to ceiling, there are wares stored in clear plastic containers and bins. The place appears almost a mix between an herb shop, modern apothecary and a county farmer’s Co-Op where planters purchase feed and seed. One could teach science from this shop or Macbeth!

“Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

Bins are everywhere, filled with wax gourd, cassia bark, abalone, tiandong, turtle shells, shark fins, dried octopus and sea cucumber, cordyceps! All these would seem so odd had I not grown up in a region chock-full of home remedies, and medicine based on so much tradition and mountain folklore. How I remember afternoons spent foraging for persimmon to rub on skin blistered with poison oak or ivy, digging up sassafras root to steep for a cleansing tea, rolling slim rabbit tobacco and clove cigarettes to smoke so that our lungs would be strong. Queen Anne’s Lace and honey are supposedly wonderful for ulcers -which it is that truly aids, who knows. For years, we kept English honeybees not just for the love of that golden sweet substance but also to ward off regional allergies and treat burns. The idea is that the honey produced from the same pollen laden plants will reduce one’s allergic reactions during hay fever season.

Many of the plants we used as medicine were toxic in their raw, natural state. So, as children, we were taught to be wary. Foolish it is to go foraging and prepare the unfamiliar. I once knew a man I will not name who kept a jar of Clay County moonshine laced with wild bilberry that floated around bruised in the bottom. It was reported to be an ailment for the eyes, but somehow the concoction seemed to defeat its proposed purpose. And, of course, there is Southern Elderberry wine made from the plant’s delectable fruit. Certain species are as noxious as the polk weed we boil off in the beginning preparation of polk salat.
A rule of thumb learned early in rural life is that if you don’t prepare it yourself, you don’t eat it. Old Man Waldrop used to pluck the poisonous berries from the polk stalk and chew them. “To cleanse the blood,” he would explain. Our mothers said this was foolish. But in this case, we children were the wiser; we knew that man was so mean the devil didn’t even want him.

Last year, when I began planning this trip, I purchased three guide books of the city. While mapping out Chinatown, I was surprised to find that there are almost 300 restaurants within the neighborhood’s boundaries. Some sounded better than others, and although I had my list of wants written out well before I left home, I have found that once I get into an area several things tend to dictate choice. The first two are my mood, and the prolific bragging of locals. Often as not, however, I choose a place to dine based on nothing more than the way a place feels.

Today, I am looking for an eatery called Sweet-n-Tart Cafe. My new friend Karen suggested I try the congee, a type of rice porridge. In the South, there is a particular fondness for a dessert that is also considered a staple. In our home that staple was rice pudding. It ranked right up there with the various biscuit topped cobblers: blackberry, peach or sweet potato. Rice pudding even held its own at the table when presented along with butter pound cake. All these family recipes were handed down over the years. Along the way, others crept in. Some were come across accidently and yet others long searched for -like the recipe for Lillian Carter’s Peanut Butter Pound Cake.

Rice pudding back home is a buttery, dense pudding loaded with vanilla, sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. The overall consistency can be described as velvety. Usually it arrives at the table crusted with a browned sugar and butter topping. It is wonderful hot from the oven, at room temperature and even straight from the fridge, ice cold. Like banana nut bread, rice pudding is a staple breakfast food as often as it is dessert.

During my childhood, rice pudding appeared most often when times were lean. Those were the days when a summer evening meal consisted of fresh scrubbed vegetables from the garden and fish from the trotline. Lean dinners in the winter were often bowls of pintos and cornbread or skillet fried potatoes with onions. As the seasons changed, fish gave way to game: fried dove or quail with gravy, braised rabbit, smoked turkey or venison. All of these could be taken within a five-mile radius of our home. The variety may not have been great, but there was usually plenty. Biscuits with butter, cornbread with sorghum, molasses or honey -these were present at almost every meal. Other times, they were the meal. More staples. How often I sat at the kitchen table during the late evening with Grandpa, feasting on only this and black coffee.
I wish I could remember the things we talked about and the stories he told as clearly as I remember the food. Just as there was always Grace before dinner in one grandparent’s house, there were always stories in the other. Rice pudding, however, was common at both dinner tables.

Cash Only is posted on the door to the tiny restaurant. As of yet, this has been the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make in the city. Thank goodness the guidebooks warn tourists up-front. If not, it would probably be as close as you could get to having a Southern woman in true distress. At the counter, I order the Congee with Hong Dou. “Good for you,” says the man nodding his approval and making a circular motion with his hand around the stomach.

“Thank you,” I tell him. It is all I know to say.

Congee is made by cooking rice with water until it breaks down into a porridge-like consistency. It is usually flavored one of two ways: salty and robust with flavorful meat, or glutinous and sweet with red beans, dates and palm sugar. I am in want of the latter.

The congee arrives and the serving is more than I anticipated. It is a meal and has the wet consistency of porridge rather than the thickness I associate with rice or bread pudding which, when scooped, holds together. I have to admit to being somewhat put-off by the addition of beans. Trying it though, I am pleased and notice a chewiness that regular rice pudding does not have. It is warm, sweet and heavy, very much a comfort food. Admittedly, it is probably healthier than the rice pudding I grew up on because it is cooked without butter and cream.

I hail a taxi, but after several blocks the feeling of being caged consumes me so I ask to be let out. I need to move, to walk. There are so many people out and about. It is hard to get used to.

Rosy peaches the size of my fist catch my eye. Walking through the open store, I concentrate on breathing in the clean smell of fresh produce. Although the rich scent of dirt has been washed away, there lingers another that calms; describable only as the scent of things from the earth, the smell of memories. The farthest corners summon. There are so many packages! I purchase a box of fortune cookies, pay and walk back out into the crowds.

This visual shopping, or window-shopping as Mother calls it, is a method I use to fill my tank. When I find myself stuck in a funk this uncomplicated appreciation supplies a quick jump-off, a charge that sets me back on track. I do not need to own these things to enjoy them and because there is no predetermined direction or reason, only leisure, it provides relaxation. The textures and colors I absorb and inadvertently my needs are filled.

The warmth of the sun is veiled again by the gathering of storm clouds. Collectively they attempt to blanket out the last sunlight of the day; as if in protest, colors along the street burst against this ruddy light.

Are there fixed stages to this madness we call life, I wonder. At varying times we are consumed by different needs, different worries and different desires. Is there a pattern? I believe there is. My life is not as different, has not been so different, from that of so many women. Many of us face similar obstacles and we draw strength and understanding from each other’s experiences. The discoveries that lie between us, between the layers we create together –this is life! Yes, I believe there are patterns, just as there are with the weather, the seasons, the stages of life.

But, why is it that I have spent the majority of my mature existence trying to improve myself, my place in life, only to look back longingly for the person I used to be?

As a child I did not worry about the past or the future. I did not look so severely upon myself. Nor did I fret over the actions of others. Every day was looked forward to.


The trip so far is proving relaxing, but I am far from understanding what I need or even being sure how I feel. I cannot let go of the immense disappointment I feel, the anger or even the resentment. My confidence has been destroyed. Everything had seemed just as it should.
Journaling is supposed to help, but I can feel waves of angst rising within me, threatening to overpower all rational sense. Emotions how quickly they can consume! When happy they elate the soul, when unpleasant they can drown even the strongest.
I must focus on the positive –I am healthy. My children are healthy and happy. I have wonderful parents, a brother and sister-in-law and nephews. The city is exciting and I am here on a trip I’ve always dreamt of. I have had two good days. I will have another tomorrow. I will be o.k. This feeling will not last; the bad passes just as quickly as the good. It only seems to remain longer.
Recognizing that I must have something to distract myself until I am able to sleep, I quietly put away my journal to read, think on the words of others for a while, then discover my old journal, unknowingly packed and so I begin to read and reflect on it as well. Back and forth I move between the novels I love and the journal, trying to find some understanding without getting too caught up in the memories.
It is impossible to see things clearly when you are too close. Clarity comes with distance and time.

Elizabeth Mozley Partridge

💛WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR is Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/We-Share-Same-Sky-memoir-ebook/dp/B079TFYYJ7?ref_=ast_author_dp


In the mood to enjoy a little armchair traveling, I pulled an old favorite from the bookshelf. When the bookmark slid from between the pages, I expected it to be the water taxi ticket from our girls trip (me, Mother, Anderson) to Venice in 2008.

I am always tucking precious keepsakes into my books. Never would I have thought it would be my ticket to the 102nd Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building. I brought back very little from the trip to New York City that fate filled summer -other than a few souvenirs for the kids and two journals filled with notes that would become WE SHARE THE SAME SKY.

That was 15 years ago! Where does the time go? And, why does it pass so quickly?

The moments, the memories that comprise our lives are precious—-the good ones and the bad ones too, for they both shape us and define the paths we will choose.

If you would like, WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1985762838/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=



NewYorkCity #Memoir


It’s Almost Christmas!

Christmas is around the corner, but it’s not too late to purchase a #book for the #bibliophile in your life! Available On Amazon #ElizabethMozleyPartridge


Alabama Author, Elizabeth Mozley Partridge

Time has a funny way of bending in on itself. #NYC

This past November, my husband and I were deep in conversation when our driver suddenly stopped due to traffic. As we looked out into the rainy streets of New York City, I was stunned to see Paley Park just steps away. She (because she is too beautiful to be anything else) was glossed with rain, just as she had been the first time we met in 2007. Time has a funny way of bending in on itself. So much has happened since then, but I am still the same girl; I still believe in all that is good. And, I know I am blessed.

When we returned home, I pulled out a copy of the book I wrote about my weeklong retreat in New York City ~ WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR. And, I located the chapter where I mentioned my first introduction to Paley Park. I’ve included a partial entry here.

Elizabeth Mozley Partridge

💙 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Simplicity – free of complexity, refinement, or pretentiousness

For only a moment, I forget where I am. I have awakened to the sweet sound of rain, its drops playing out a song on the sill and making a tattoo of patterns on the glass, droplets that splat, gather and run. I’ve awakened in the past, on my old couch. How often I slept my lonesome weekends through.

There was that one soaking April I awakened to find the French doors of my living room standing open, thrown wide the night before to let in the breeze. I both loved and hated that white room, with its spacious doors set across the back. On the second story, it sat as if nestled within the limbs of trees. This morning the rain had made heavy the syrupy smell of warming wisteria and its scent had come inside with the wind to blanket the house. I had risen, prepared a pot of coffee, put Madeleine Peyroux and Miles Davis on the Hi-Fi.

I was determined that spring to make myself happy. Often, I’d waste the day away. Surrounding myself with cookbooks pulled from the shelf, I’d browse the stacks for something to cook, something to have waiting for the children when they returned from the weekend with their father.

So, I have claimed today as one of those days. It will be a day without destination, a day wasted away without purpose. But, really, in all things there is purpose.

Darting along the sidewalk, I sidestep a woman scolding her son for being late. These kids are still in school and will not be out for another week. Continuing the school year through June would be unbearable in Alabama. I turn, and cannot help but watch the woman. Having entered the store behind me, she continues with her barrage of corrections. Something in her tone reminds me of my mother. She is not really angry, but the voice holds the tone of determination.

Mother used to grab me by the shoulders, demand that I meet her gaze and then with an intensity that sank into my bones she would declare, “I want you strong and independent. I don’t want you scared to try things like I was.” She and my father loved me and my younger brother. That was obvious. But, we were never smothered with affection, never spoiled. The objective they sought in child rearing was clearly to produce two kids who were sure of themselves and independent.

Growing up in the country as we did, my brother and I became inseparable. The isolation created between us an amazing bond. But, it also fostered a desire to go solo. When sports began to consume Oba’s weekends, I was left alone in what had always been a shared adventure. Strangely, rather than feel this as a loss, it grew into an inexplicable love, an unequivocal joy. Instead of accepting invitations from girlfriends for a day shopping or burgers and a movie, I preferred instead to spend my days hiking to the lake that sat nestled in the woods, gather a pile of pine needles to make a soft place where I could curl up for several hours in the quiet and read. Other days, I’d throw a shovel in the back of our old truck, and spend hours riding the countryside searching old home places for daffodils. I learned early that I am very comfortable setting out on my own.

The sky rips open and rain begins to spill onto the city. The echo of thunder ricochets off the skyscrapers with alarming intensity! It is unlike any sound I’ve ever heard. I sprint to the nearest cover along with every other soul who didn’t have the foresight to bring an umbrella. Just as quickly as it came, the rain slackens, then tapers off to a slow drizzle. Covering my head with a jacket, I tiptoe through the puddling water on the sidewalk and continue skipping between shops, searching for shelter within each, seeking enjoyment that requires no thought, just an aimless filling of the senses with shape, color, sound and scent. There is no hurry, no course to follow, just the pure enjoyment of an overcast gray sky, the creamy glow of traffic lights, the rain itself bouncing between the buildings as it picks up pace again. There is nothing so soothing as the low sound of distant rolling thunder and the muted light of a dreary day.

I turn a corner onto an unknown road and find the fountain. I know instantly that it will be my favorite and so silently claim it as a place of my own. It reminds me of one in downtown Gadsden next door to the old Pitman Theater on Broad Street. I mark it in my mind so I can return later. I have stumbled upon Paley Park, established in May 1967, a month before my birth! The plaque near the entrance reads, “This park is set aside in memory of Samuel Paley, 1875-1963, for the enjoyment of the public.”

Two questions come: Why is no one here? and What day is it? The realization that I’ve begun to let my days blend together brings a sudden smile. I feel that I am making some sort of progress, but toward what I am unsure. Folding my jacket and placing it in a chair, I sit back to appreciate what can only be a temporary moment of seclusion. The backdrop of the park is the waterfall, a twenty-foot sheet of falling water. Cobblestone pavers cover the ground and, all around, ivy buffers the encasement provided by the opposing buildings. The park is filled with the green foliage of trees with which I am unfamiliar, and a profusion of potted yellow and white flowers. The wind having died down with the passing of the storm, now blows gently through the trees and birds reappear to bathe in the puddles that remain. Bending, I collect a white rock that seems so out of place. Pausing before pocketing it, I notice its jagged edges, its surprising heft, and the way its surface glints against the light.

For centuries, man has erected fountains. Originally begun as wells that provided the city with water, fountains later sprang up, creating a place to congregate, a place to relax. The longest recorded conversation between Jesus and another person took place at Jacob’s well with the woman of Samaria. The Persians are often credited with creating the first garden fountains and Romans the aqueducts and public baths.

Sitting here alone, reflecting on these things, two memories come to mind. I remember the sense of fulfillment I experienced when Anderson, my daughter, and I drank from the fountain on a hillside in Rome, where the cold water poured out onto the streets from the ancient aqueducts.

Though warned not to drink from it by our guide, we couldn’t resist; ambivalence must surely be an inherited trait! The other memory is of a time when having tired of a lecture on the relationship between Southern food and literature I’d made my way through the streets of Natchez, Mississippi where I stumbled upon St. Mary Basilica and its simple but gracious fountain that sat surrounded by old oaks. Rather than being overcome by the majesty of the sanctuary, I was taken instead with the unassuming oasis.

Neither of these memories are distant enough to have been forgotten or shelved, and yet they are seldom, if ever, recalled. But, they come to me now and the recollection of these happy times, these times I felt fulfilled, seem to ease the anxiety that has kept me in constant company these past months.

I cannot explain the need to revisit certain buildings and places, or why it is that they are of such importance to me, a Southerner. But, I think that the love for this city’s landmarks is a universal thing. Most people understand the importance of place to the human spirit. Just as individuals are unique, the characteristics of a place which appeal to us, those to which we attach some meaning or connection, are just as varied, just as distinctive. A place that holds no appeal to one person may be of inherent importance, almost sacred, to another. Yet, experiencing ties to a place and being drawn to one are very different; while we are drawn to those that supplement our soul, we become tied to the one that breathes of home. When people reside in an area to which they feel no attraction or sentimental connection there is often the recognition that something inherent and fundamental is missing. And so they search.

Elizabeth Mozley Partridge, an excerpt from WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR
All books available on Amazon.

💙 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

#WeShareTheSameSky #ElizabethMozleyPartridge

Paley Park, New York City 11/12/2022

We Share The Same Sky, a memoir

~I began writing WE SHARE THE SAME SKY following my return from a summer trip I took alone to Manhattan the summer I turned forty. I was contemplating a major change in my life and knew that the time away would give me the space I needed to think and see things more clearly. With children in the house, money spent toward a trip for myself –rather than a family vacation- filled me with guilt. So, I needed a second reason, one that might alleviate what felt like self-indulgence. I decided to write about my week in the city and include the history of the boroughs and enclaves of Manhattan, the cultural beauty of the place, the ever-changing neighborhoods that continue to foster a sense of belonging for our immigrants.

While I expected to get caught up in the magic that is New York City, I didn’t expect my mind to constantly jump back to the South. Throughout these days of wandering, images of home and memories of my childhood kept pressing in on me, as if demanding recognition.

You see, I was missing family; I was missing place. There simply is no getting away from who you are or where you are from. Place retains its significance to the human spirit because we tie to it the emotions of our memories. Being Southern means having a relationship with the land, a relationship with nature.

Being away, immersed in that immense, fascinating city, I could more easily reflect on the past, the people and events that made me who I am. The week in Manhattan actually helped me reconnect.

I’ve heard it said that as children, we are closer to our true selves, that we know our passions. I think this is true. It is only later when we are busy being adults that we slip up and forget.

~ You can find WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a Memoir on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

(Excerpt from WE SHARE THE SAME SKY) 9 “There is as much dignity in plowing a field as in writing a poem.” —Booker T. Washington

Awakening, I move about in a stupor and realize that the bed is unfamiliar. The pillow is unfamiliar. The sounds coming from outside my window –all are unfamiliar. Slowly remembrance sinks in and settles like freshly poured concrete. I am snuggled safely within the city I adore!

In the subdivision in Rainbow City where I live, there is a small farm down the street that sits so charmingly out of place. Grandfathered in when our neighborhood was developed, the old farmhouse and tiny field remain. Every morning I am graced with the sounds of the family’s rooster trilling and the donkey baying for his morning meal. Here, the glare through the window forces me awake. And yet, thanks to the sound ordinance, rarely does one hear the frustrated, incessant blaring of aggressive horns. I have over-slept and awakened with the capricious nature of an unruly child. Pulling aside the curtain, I take a peek outside, mouth a quiet thank you to Him.

Late last night, I listed everything I want to cram into my day. Far and wide, my desires are spread from Upper West Side through Midtown and Upper East Side. Locating my list on the map, I realize that I will be all over the place. But really, who cares? It is not as if I am following a dreaded agenda. Flip of a coin, shake of the Magic 8 Ball; perhaps I have been going about my decision making all wrong. So, sensibility will not dictate my path, at least not today!

Morningside Heights

Is there anything better than sliding into a taxi when you know you are in for a long day? I don’t think so. As I get in and arrange my things, I notice the driver is talking on the phone. Hating to be rude, I jot down the address and hand it to him, trying to smile. He never makes eye contact and never hangs up the phone. Ill-mannered people get on my nerves and my pet peeve is rude cell phone use. Maintaining my silence, I sit behind him and seethe, wanting to tell him to please get off the phone and drive because frankly, he is scaring the hell out of me. I fantasize about reaching from behind and snatching the phone from his hand and flinging it hard out the window –something my father would do. And yet, I know that when he lets me out, I will tip the inconsiderate jerk anyway. My mother reminded me several weeks ago that unless one speaks their mind when they are displeased, they have no right to be resentful. Regardless, I am full. And, I am irritated with myself for letting something shake the sense of inner peace I awakened with. In the South, protestant church signs post words of wisdom each week. My favorite is the adage “He who angers you, controls you.”

The driver drops me intact at The Morningside Heights Greenmarket located at 116th Street and Broadway. While planning, I discovered that the market is sponsored by Columbia University and Barnard College. Amazed by the selection of fresh produce in the city, I find myself constantly comparing it to what we have back home. Surprisingly, it seems there are many more open markets available here.

Quickly, I purchase a pint of the plumpest blueberries and wish for some fresh yogurt. The apples are gorgeous. There is one variety that looks similar to those my grandmother Libby called horse apples. Although the skin of these apples is not the prettiest, they always have a good tart taste that makes them perfect for apple pie and apple butter.

Looking over the boxes before me, I think back on my fifth grade year when before morning announcements or even the pledge was completed, I was hauled into the Principal’s office to stand before Dr. Leftwich.

“It has been rumored,” she said “that you have been stealing apples from a nearby yard and selling them on the bus. Miss Mozley, being industrious is one thing, but thievery is quite another.”

My grandmother always reminded me to pause before answering and so I did. I knew that the man who owned the place had seen me a couple of afternoons as he sat out on his back porch. The tree I had chosen the day before was close enough that I had noticed he was drinking tea and cracking pecans as he read The Gadsden Times. I also knew that he didn’t mind or he would have said something. I even hoped that he liked me, although I never saw him smile. Yes, he liked me and he appreciated the fact that I enjoyed his trees, his apples. After all, he had dropped the paper to below eye level and watched as I gathered them in my shirt and climbed back over his fence.

He was not the one who reported me. I knew this. But regardless of who had, I was either in for a good scolding or a paddling. But, not both; Dr. Leftwich was known for giving one or the other. My only hope was that she wouldn’t call Papa. Double or nothing I thought, then replied, “Yes, ma’am. I’ve been doing just that.”

The following day –because she did not paddle me or even call my father –I left a rosy store-bought apple on her desk. I didn’t think a note was necessary.

What is it about picking your own produce that makes the taste more intense? My children swear that the apples they pick from our trees to bake each morning are better than those from the store and I believe them.

Apples purchased from the grocer sit prettily in the glass dish on our dining room table almost forgotten. It is as if they are there for the eye rather than the palate.

Each year, the children and I look forward to visiting an orchard. For years, we picked our own from an elderly gentleman’s backyard in Riverside. Posted near the bushel baskets was a sign listing the cost, and sitting below on a porch step was an old rusted coffee can where you deposited your money. Some of the trees that grew along the back row of his orchard seemed to be as old as the man himself. Laden with a full load, the sagging limbs were propped up with felled hardwood. When the old man passed away the property was sold, his bountiful trees cut, the land leveled and landscaped. The children and I mourned, then set out in search of another orchard. We headed north.

I had found a listing for a large family-owned orchard in North, Alabama. After a long morning drive, we arrived to find the place boarded up. Disappointed we turned back, but decided the return trip should be a different route, in the hope of coming across something of interest along the way. What we found was a North Alabama Indian mound. The gate, drawn shut and locked, held a sign posted no trespassing, but the children and I pretended not to see. We quickly parked the car and walked to the mound by way of a neighboring cotton field, full and white.

Catching sight of the mound, Anderson and Isaac stopped at once. I walked to where they stood, looking on with awe at the vision that lay before us.

A prehistoric Native American relic of the Mississippian culture, it was an amazing thing to see, just sitting there modestly in a field of lolling green pasture, surrounded by a pearlescent ocean of cotton and the distant emerald foliage of hardwood trees. In silence we climbed the mound, stood and gazed across the land. With unspoken reverence, we turned and descended quietly, then walked back through the high cotton to where we had parked.

Several miles down the road, we happened upon a very small family owned orchard. Although we didn’t get to pick the apples ourselves, no one seemed to care. We bought several bushels and an antique apple peeler to make our work easier. That evening, we set about slicing and filling the dehydrator racks sprinkling each layer with cinnamon; the remaining apples we baked and then topped with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Memories of time spent with my children bring only happiness. I say a quiet thank you. Because of them, I have much to be grateful for. Isaac’s cotton seeds are still in the backseat compartment of my car! When this thought comes, I cannot help but laugh outright.

I continue to pick up an apple from each selection, admire its uniqueness and fresh smell. I think of a quote from Walden, of Thoreau and his reflections on the farm he almost bought but didn’t. He laments, “I have frequently seen a poet withdraw, having enjoyed the most valuable part of a farm, while the crusty farmer supposed that he had got a few wild apples only.” Now this I understand. But, when he admonishes “…As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the country jail.” I am want to disagree. To own and work a piece of land is to take pride in something that becomes an extension of self; a sense of accomplishment fills the soul of the weary possessor at days end.

Moving around the selections, I watch and listen to the interactions between the farmers and the locals and wish that I was staying somewhere that would allow me to purchase what I really want so that I might cook a meal early in the evening. Within arms reach are the most delectable Roma tomatoes I’ve ever seen accompanied by a beautiful purplish heirloom. I wish I could gather them up, take them back to the room, slice them, dehydrate them and pack them in oil or buy a couple of crisp ones still good and green, to fry.

There is also pineapple, freshly cut. If only I had several slices of a good homemade white bread and some mayonnaise. Is it only Southerners who eat pineapple sandwiches and hot tomato biscuits? Recognizing true hunger, my stomach rumbles at the thought.

The idea of dinner alone makes me miss being at home, cooking and dining with the children. They would be thrilled with this marketplace.

We often shop the farmer’s market in Birmingham. Not so much for the fresh produce –even though the offerings are amazing with over 200 farmers participating- but for all the other phenomenal vendors. Isaac’s favorite is a table of sliced cakes, presented by The Bakery at Cullinard. Anderson heads immediately for the croissants and chocolate sauce offered at another stand. Shelves of homemade preserves, jellies and jams call to me.

In our area, the weekend flee markets are where most folks shop for serious produce purchases. These are located closer to Gadsden, our hometown. We frequent Collinsville on Saturdays and Mountain Top on Sundays. Visiting a trade day in the South requires rising early. The best vendors arrive and begin setting up around 4:30 a.m. then pack up around noon. Collinsville Market is located in a small rural town of the same name. It is surrounded by beautiful green sprawling hills of farmland and the distant ridge of the lower Cumberland Plateau. Prettiest in the lambent light of the early hours, the view competes with the winsome sounds of farm animals. The smell of sausage biscuits and fresh coffee drift far and wide.

Regional pride has led to many a foolish notion. Admittedly, I always believed that Southerners held a closer relationship to the land and therefore held the prime pickings when it came to produce. Looking about, I acknowledge that I’ve been proven wrong on both counts. Before walking away, I watch a small family load their purchases into four worn arm baskets; supple, they easily bend and allow the carrying of much weight. What is it they will cook for dinner tonight? What are their traditions, and is this trip to the market one of them? I think on our family’s beloved catfish Sundays. Grandpa farmed and fished all week. GrandMosie began cooking early that morning while we attended our various churches. Gathering at their house after services, we children fought over the fried fish with the longest crisp tails. We gnawed them down to the nub before beginning on the flesh, filled our plates repeatedly, then lazed away the afternoon waiting for stomach pains to pass. It was a happy gathering. What a shame that in today’s haste, many have let the tradition of Sunday supper with extended family all but slip away.

I watch the father help his wife, guide her gently through the throngs of people. He is protective of her, she of the children.

Breathing deeply and enjoying the early morning air, I decide to move on. It occurs to me that all of this walking, where the wanderings of body and thoughts meld, has helped clear my mind. Physical exertion, be it calisthenic or aerobic, alleviates depression and anxiety. Wandering is much like pacing in that it requires constant yet thoughtless movement; while the body moves about as if by its own accord, the mind is free. For me, this is proving therapeutic and provides time to reflect on the important things, to examine what exactly it is that has brought me here, not just to this city, but to this juncture in my life. Perhaps with realization, healing and creativity can begin again. It is not that I have become blind to the limitless joy God places in the smallest of things, rather I have become distracted by circumstance. Time to wander, to think, to remember and reflect –without these we lose something fundamental and vital to self.


Standin’ here,
Hands spread
Across faded green,
I listen undeterred
To moans and groans behind me
Of ungodly ugliness.
I care not
For I’ve found a treasure
That’s less than grand sight
And slick worn feel
Bring back dusty memories
Of skinned knees, stringy hair,
Days that ran long and knew untold endin’s.
Who would’ve known
That city folk congregated in search
Of fine Wedgwood and walnut
Would find themselves subjected
To grandeur so rural,
That’s beckonin’ calls to those
Whose memories once held rough edges
Hewn by hard work and time.
It stands there inquirin’
Remember me? Remember
The gatherin’s…
I become absorbed
In its green flat formica
And long since lost its shine chrome-
Where many times did
Families coagulate
When such things were so,
To feast on meals
Pulled from the ground, wrung by the neck
Then presented to kin whose presence
Represented true survival
Of hell and brimstone storms
Characteristic of a glorious
Southern Sunday morn.

Elizabeth Mozley

💛 Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

~Join me for a week in New York City!

The Advice I Give My Children

Actions speak louder than words, and yet, once spoken, they will hear your words for a lifetime.



WE SHARE THE SAME SKY is available on Amazon 💛 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

Available TODAY for FREE rEaDiNg!

Available TODAY for free reading on KDP SELECT! Dancing Along The Fringes To The Sign Of Silence, CENTIPEDE, & We Share The Same Sky!

ElizabethMozley #WeShareTheSameSky #CENTIPEDE #DancingAlongTHEFRINGESToTheSignOfSilence #THEFRINGES #Kindle #KDPSelect

Available for purchase on Amazon!
Paperback & Kindle 💛


#WeShareTheSameSky Join me for a week in #NYC, visiting historic sites, enjoying the history, famous eats & reflecting on growing up in the #DeepSouth

~Ah, and the battle for best cUpCaKe between Magnolia Bakery & Sugar Sweet Sunshine; my quest for the tastiest rice pudding & frozen custard! What a satisfying trip!

💛 In pApERbAcK & #KindleUnlimited

WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir is Available Here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1985762838/ref=cm_sw_r_awdo_RAMP9ASEEAV4ZGDFXEB4

#ElizabethMozley #AlabamaAuthor

—Did you say, “battle for the best cupcake?!”

#WeShareTheSameSky Join me for a week in #NYC, visiting historic sites, enjoying the history, famous eats & reflecting on growing up in the Deep South. ~ Ah, and the battle for best cUpCaKe between Magnolia Bakery and Sugar Sweet Sunshine; my quest for the tastiest rice pudding & frozen custard! What a satisfying trip! WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir is Available Here: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

#ElizabethMozley #AlabamaAuthor


Travel when you can – hop a flight, ride the train, or just step out of your own back door and roam! Join me for a week roaming New York City & reflecting on growing up in the rural South! amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozl…