Myra Jean didn’t know what bewildered her most when she moved across the Bay to Virginia. Bricks and paving were replaced by a lush, green landscape where her horizon was limited to the next tree. Time passed differently. Unlike the rush and bursts of the city day, the leisurely hours ambled like a deep river. The people lived by the rhythms of tide and harvest instead of being ruled by clocks and factory whistles, as the area nourished itself from farming, fishing, and abundant game. The water around the peninsula seemed to shelter it from the scarcity beyond. It also isolated the little town, allowing modern events to flow past without touching it.
She had soon learned that small-town southern culture was as impenetrable and unidentifiable as the briers growing in the woods. Some would bear fruit, some would bloom into roses, and others were nothing but thorns, but she had no way to tell them apart. After living in Hull Crossing for a year, Myra Jean was still surprised when strangers addressed her by name. Now, however, instead of feeling like an insect under a microscope, she would try to learn their names too.