I’m going to put in some excerpts of a recent conversation I had about where I come from; the South. Suffice it to say, I love the place. We may be backwards in some ways. We may live slower and at times more dull lives. But we live. And we live life to live it, not to end it:
We drive slower in the South to enjoy life. Like all the memes say, who the hell ever says when they retire they want to move North?
There is a reason for that.
Life is simpler in the South. It isn’t about dogwoods or azaleas. It isn’t about the cardinals or the nightingales you hear at night.
It’s about the people.
The one’s who don’t know you but smile.
It’s the men at church on Sundays who hold the doors open, it’s about the people who you’d trust your children with, just for a moment, an hour or the rest of their lives should something happen to you.
The South isn’t a place. It’s a thing…a living and breathing thing. At any time you can call someone and they come running. And they don’t ask why first or even when they show up.
You are family at their tables, even on Sundays at their maw-maws houses. You sit together at church, in a pew, like family. When someone dies, the whole church grieves and gets together.
It’s about the sunsets, the spots and flounders biting, the waves crashing on the shores of Kure, Carolina and Ocean Isle. It’s about being able to show your children that it is ok to walk in a creek outside a candy store in a valley in the mountains. It’s about distinct seasons, about knowing what someone stands for and never having to question a motive.
THE ABOVE WAS MY HALF OF THE CONVERSATION. See, I was born in a small town in South Carolina. Then moved at 2 to a small suburb of Atlanta and then to the City of Greensboro, NC. I stayed there until I left for life in the “Big City” as Andy would call it, up in Raleigh. The State Capt’l. And yes, that’s how we Southerners say it. There is no CAP-I-TOL. It isn’t that I hate the North. Or the West. Or the Midwest or the Northwest. I was raised to play barefoot, and to love your neighbors. To respect your elders. You never, EVER, questioned their authority, whether they were kin or not. And I’ve spoken to many people, I’d say 90% or greater of them since moving up here asking me what the hell I was thinking. Yes, many of them said it just that way.
Many of them tell me they’d get the hell out of here if they ever got a chance. Now in NC I know it’s hot. Some days I’ve known it to be 103 degrees. I’ve burned my feet on that black top, and on the sand of the beaches along the coast that borders that massive Atlantic Ocean that is full of some of the most wonderful fishing there is around.
But, for us from the South, it isn’t about a war we lost. It isn’t about land rights, or about money. It’s about family and friends and good times, crisp fall nights and football. It’s about knowing each person who you graduate with or growing up with someone from age 5 all the way until you leave for college. It’s about life. It’s about the air we breathe, whether it’s cold or humid, full of pollen or the smell of leaves burning in a pile. It’s trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tweetsie Railroad, campuses of colleges that are big and small. It is about picking up a “stray” dog and knowing 9 times out of 10 who the pup belongs to. We collected acorns hoping to grow an oak tree of our own. We stand under longleaf pines and wonder just how far those SOB’s will truly bend under wind.
We live in the South and it lives in us. We don’t watch life go by. We live by this Toast:
- Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
- The summer land where the sun doth shine,
- Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
- Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
- Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
- Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
- Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
- ‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
- Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
- Where the rhododendron‘s rosette glows,
- Where soars Mount Mitchell‘s summit great,
- In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
- Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
- Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
- The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
- The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!