What is it about the South? I’ve spent time all over the world, SW Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Russia. I’ve lived all over the US, California, Maryland, Kansas and throughout the South. There is some deep magic, some elemental draw to the Deep South.
Perhaps it is the environment. Summer thunderstorms and late fall fogs, Cyprus swamps and piney woods and Appalachian bald knobs. Is there anything more beautiful than sunrise in the Smokies or sunset on the Gulf Coast?
Maybe it is the culture. The Kentucky Derby and mint juleps or banjos and moonshine or Cajun Zydeco and Creole cooking. Barhopping in Nashville or a debutantes ball in Savannah. Mardi Gras in the Big Easy or a Low Country BBQ. Hunting Quail on a plantation behind spaniels or a Kentucky deer camp. Gathering cattle or working an oil rig in Texas.
I think, though, it is the people. I have seen some amazing places in my time. But, always, it is the Southern people who draw me back. I have met them everywhere, a Diaspora around the world of genteel manners and a soft drawl. Sure, we have our share of trailer park trash and welfare queens. People will be people. But there remains, more than in other places I have been, a solid core of ethics, of hard work being respected and a man’s word being his bond. I cherish knowing who I am and where I am from. It lets me focus on where I am going. I feel a sense of responsibility, of stewardship, for this land, this people. They are my tribe.
I found a few things to salve my homesickness while I am away. I highly recommend them, whether you are a displaced Southerner like myself, or one of the less fortunate trying to understand us. They, along with the writings of Hemingway, soothe my Southern soul.