collecting stories

A sense of place…

HistoryI often take where I live for granted. I’ll admit, there are many that look down upon little towns like mine- too old-fashioned, too countrified, too backwards. And you’ll have to drive a piece to get to the modern bastions of Walmart, Gap, and Starbucks. I, however, like it just the way it is.

In this small southern town, people still wave as they drive by. You can catch the older generation sitting on their front porches, drinking sweet tea or lemonade, knitting (her) and spinning yarns of yesterday (him). The cashiers at the grocery store know you by name and worry about you when you don’t stop in for a while, and the bag boys still take your groceries out. The guys still open the door for the ladies, and the men still know to doff their hats upon entering a building.  You can’t drive a mile without seeing at least two barns, a few tractors, and a broken down Chevy or Ford. You rarely will have to call a tow truck upon running out of gas, because, chances are a kind stranger will stop with his gas can.  The two most popular books in these parts? The Bible and the Farmer’s Almanac. Did I mention the sweet tea? Everyone has their own secret recipe. "Please" and "Thank You" aren’t a foreign tongue, and you’ll almost always catch the young girls with a ribbon in their hair, even if their jeans might be a bit tight.  The women are hard working and kind- you’ll catch all ages hauling in the hay and running the tractors right next to the farm hands. Most can cook a mean apple pie, too, although around here, the gals tend to be partial to peach cobblers.

No one in my sleepy old town (the oldest in the state) questions for a hot minute where their food comes from. They know that the beef comes from the MacClure’s; the vegetables from Fender’s; the milk from the dairy farm in  Limestone. (The peaches, of course, come from Georgia, but that’s a short two hour’s drive.) When the drought hit last year, everyone worried. Churches around town put "Pray for rain" on their marquees. The livelihood and economy of our sleepy county is dependent on agriculture; without it, the whole area suffers. As a transplanted city chick, I have come to learn and respect the intricate balance that our world rests in, from sunup to sundown, from season to season, from rain and plenty to parched earth and want.

In the ridiculous hustle and bustle and go-go-go consumerism of our present day, many have lost this connection, this sense of place. As a constantly transplanted military brat, I spent most of my childhood in transition. I treasure where I live now precisely because so little of it has changed. I drive by this house (and others just like it) every day on my way to take Ben to school. Driving down Mainstreet, I cover the same ground that horse-drawn carriages and wagons used to tread. The building to my left still advertises flour for 6 cents a 5o pound bag painted upon its bricks. The roads are quite narrow- a throw back to a time when gas guzzling SUV tanks weren’t even thought of. The train still runs right through town, like clockwork.  It brings me joy that I can tell my kids of history and they can see and feel and breathe it right in front of them- it’s not dull and boring, black and white. How blessed I am, and how proud I am, to call this sleepy old country town my home.


  • Ellen

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. I live in a suburban jungle right now and loathe it (but I am thankful to have a warm house, a roof over my head, etc) How I wish, however that we were back in the country like we used to be. It was a slower pace for me and we loved it. Now I can’t even hang up sheets and clothing to dry in the day’s sunshine.

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