Monday, 6 April 2015

Rural Georgia

One of the things you discover when visiting friends in rural Georgia is that the pace of life changes, almost of its own accord. History has a way of doing that to a place, particularly one so gently paced as Sandersville, GA. This morning arrived to find me sitting comfortably at the kitchen table in a friends home. The house was built in 1820, survived the ravages of Sherman's March To The Sea in 1864, has seen remodel and addition followed by remodel and addition, and yet still offers the sense of time that only these kinds of homes can show. There are claims of ghosts, those of civil war soldiers who died in or near the home. I failed to have the pleasure.

I sat there, sipping my coffee, chatting with my friend. Katherine, as she always does in the morning, had already loaded the truck. I found myself looking at my phone for the time, dismissing the reality of 11:00 AM, delaying and finally accepting the road's call at 11:30 AM, all of this without touching the keyboard to write. Yet even as I got in the truck, I was in no hurry, loathe to rush away from southern hospitality.

Driving from Florida to rural Georgia yesterday was a gentle and kind a process as you describe, in spite of spending the first couple of hours on I-95 from Jacksonville, FL. After a wandering detour north of Savannah, we drove into this lovely, old city with the unique distinction of being one of the first planned communities in North America, the town itself predating American independence by a mere 50 years. It's low hung cover of elm and oak, dripping with Spanish Moss that looked for all the world like an old woman's shawl hanging from stooped shoulders; it's narrow streets with each neighbourhood clustered around its own small square; it's old brick buildings rebuilt so carefully after the ravages of the War Between The States; all of this, plus the riverfront built up over the years to ship cotton from the south when cotton was still king, make the town truly genteel.

We left Savannah, and the interstate highway system, behind us as we headed to the interior of the state, driving on local highways and local roads, through clusters of small towns and villages each with its own central square and ancient courthouse, watching the red dust of side roads rise into the air to warn us of oncoming traffic, I developed a real sense of the way this part of the country was built, with farms hacked out of mixed forests, woodlots preserved for use and use again, small farm houses and beautiful plantation homes all within hailing distance of one another.

The slow rolling hills of Georgia reflect the feeling of the countryside, that time is long and there is much about history worth saving. These folks really do feel that "the south shall rise again", and have the patience to wait.

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