Thursday, February 5, 2009


Soon I will venture down to South Carolina's Upcountry to visit my beloved father and "other mother." My Dad, at 85-years-old, with thick white hair and a salt-and-pepper beard, is active and still practices internal medicine and endocrinology part-time. My other-mother is a wonderful artist, a painter in oils, who helps to run a local gallery and leads an active, yet serene life.

I look forward to spending time with my folks, catching up, sharing meals, as well as savouring the quiet to write into my new novel,"pen" a book review, keep up my journal, and read the novels, short stories, and magazines I will stuff into my duffel.

I intend to take long country walks in the rolling hills, forests, and woods, spotting animals I don't see in the frozen north, listening to the roar of cascading waterfalls, digging my hands into the thawing red clay earth, venturing out on a hike or two in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I will eat grits and the best corn muffins ever, have a glass of sweet tea--a Southern summer refresher--though it is still winter Upcountry.

Though the American South has much shame in its history (who or what place does not share some of this shame) there is also a wealth of stories. Some of my favorite authors--Faulkner, the playwright Tennessee Williams, Donna Tartt, Cormac McCarthy--hail from the American South.

What I relish most about going down Upcountry is the slower pace, living for a short time in a place where people take time, for whatever task they are engaged in, for one another,and nearly everyone possesses good manners.

I look forward to passing a stranger on the lonesome road and hearing, "hey!" a friendly greeting simply because I am another person in the world.


Leo said...

Indeed, there is something magical about stepping out of a city and into a rural or semi-rural environment. And I am talking anywhere that's not a city. It's like people become people again. They are civilized to each other. They wave from cars, regardless of whether they know you or not. They nod and say hi when you meet them in stores.

This is all because out there, neighbours really do depend on each other. So a certain level of civility and helpfulness is a requirement in order to live comfortably. It also happens to be a nice change of pace for urbanites which can be a bit jarring. They have to get used to stepping out of their skins, as it were, and learn to smile more, and acknowledge the presence of other human beings.

Sounds like a wonderful break from the frigid north. Wish I was going.

And this betrays my ignorance - what the heck are grits?

Chez Ami said...

I can't believe you don't know what grits are!! They are a southern cereal, a grain, white, that southerners eat as a side dish with gobs of melted butter.

If you are down south and want to eat healthy and ask for your grits sans butter, you will get them with butter anyway. The southerners feel they are cheating you if they serve you plain ole grits.

I personally like them more as a hot cereal, with some fresh fruit, a little syrup or honey, and milk.

Leo said...

Ahh, okay, now I get it. After wiki'ing it, it's just based on corn, much like polenta.

Next time I get down around that neck of the woods, I will definitely try it out.