Those who read this column on a regular basis are familiar with my longtime fishing and hunting partner David Pointer. Our paths cross whenever he finds himself back in the states and in our neck of the woods.
At Christmas, David called and said he would be in town for the weekend and we should hook up. As it turned out, he was in the market for a retirement location. His market discussion continued from the order of breakfast coffee until the lunch crowd arrived. Not one to make hasty decisions, his portfolio of success ranges from stocks to chicken farms. It's a sure bet he did his homework, and now he was calling up one of his resources -- namely me.
David brought out a crumpled piece of paper with a bit of criteria as to why the South should be low on his list of priorities. He admitted his list was not original, but it did include some things that had him concerned. I recall some of the items as ridiculous, while others could be of consequence for those of a more northerly persuasion. The list went something like this:
Southern festivals are given names relating to their geographic location. The South has festivals named after fish, animals, fruits, nuts, vegetables and insects. Not much stock seems to be placed on the human aspect unless it is a holiday.
There are critters in the South that are homebodies, and then there are many that are imported. How they got there is anybody's guess, but seeing an armadillo just doesn't seem right in the land of cotton, okra and peaches. There are quite a few varieties of snakes known to mankind; some say the species count worldwide is in the vicinity of 3,500 or more. Of these, 3,498 live in the South.
Then there's the food. Mostly, only four spices are used -- salt, pepper, Tabasco and ketchup. Lunch is not a consideration. There is the morning meal, breakfast, and then it goes straight to dinner and supper. This isn't right. Especially considering most Southerners don't wear a watch, and most don't have to. Work starts at 0-dark-30 and continues until it's done or it's too dark to see.
The seasons seem to run together, and there is little if any defining period. The seasons are based around summer, almost summer, still summer and Christmas. A rise in the barometer dictates a fishing condition. Ninety degrees is considered a tad warm, a cool snap is anything below 70 degrees -- or as some call it, good bean weather -- and the first day of deer season is a national holiday for many.
I had the urge to say something around this time but was interrupted by the waitress. She wanted to know if we were interested in the "dinner menu." David remarked that she used terms not heard of above the Mason-Dixon line.
Many good old boys, old codgers, sweet little ladies as well as Southern belles treat delicate situations with a certain flair. Things like, "If brains were leather, he wouldn't have enough to saddle a June bug," or, "Them folks were raised so far down a dirt road they thought asphalt was a disorder of the derriere," or, "You had better hurry up now, 'cause I'm touching cotton," (which means hurry up in the outhouse or find a rest stop soon).
Along about now I mentioned to David that he was from the South and that he once thought these same considerations to be as natural as ticks on a coon dog. I mentioned that us locals know if it grows, it needs cutting, and if it crawls, it bites. We measure distance in the South by minutes and his time was just about up.
I said in no uncertain terms, "David, you been totin' the high leg since we set down this morning. Your tongue has been wagging like it was tied in the middle and loose at both ends. Just because you go to church doesn't guarantee you a seat with the choir any more than standing in the garage makes you a mechanic. You made some wise decisions when you were younger that have made you a wealthy man. But remember, the decisions you make when you are young are the foolish ones you'll live with when you get older. I can't make choices for you. No one can; you will have to decide for yourself. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and I am telling you right now the best information I can offer:
"Everyone can't be from the South, just as not everyone can live here. It takes luck."
EVENTS, NEWS AND MEETINGS
Don't waste your time -- keep your fishing gear, tackle box and boat organized. The less time spent rummaging for that favorite lure, proper hook or special sauce translates to more time fishing. After all, that's what you came for. If you wanted to clean house, you should have stayed home.