2017-07-05 / Editorials

Don Lively


(Reprinted from 2010)

“I can‘t find it,” my friend insisted.

“What map are you using?” I was feigning helpfulness.

A Rand-McNally Road Atlas.”

“Well, no wonder,” I said. “That book was compiled by a bunch of Yankees!”

We both laughed.

Cause we were both in on the joke.

What geographical location, well known to exist, wouldn’t appear in the comprehensive set of state charts and directions that travelers who have not yet given in to the wimpy temptation to purchase Global Positioning Systems rely on to get them from point A to point B?

What place was omitted not only by Mr. Rand and Mr. McNally but by AAA, MapQuest, OnStar and Garmin?

One we all know and love.


So, if it’s not on any map, how would some unfortunate soul who is unschooled about the topography of the Blessed South find us?

Allow me to enlighten any travelers new to our neck of the woods.

First, let’s talk about what you won’t see. There won’t be a sign that exclaims in big, bold letters: WELCOME TO DIXIE. There’s no need.

Cause, once you’re here, it should be pretty obvious.

But, for those who might have missed the palpable signs of arrival, I’ll happily expound.

What you will see, and feel, is that things move a bit slower down here. What’s the hurry? Whatever you’re breaking your neck to get to will still be there when you mosey up. Or, if it’s not, it probably wasn’t worth the trouble anyhow.

So, just relax.

Slow down.

You might as well, cause at some point you won’t have a choice.

Here in Dixie the chances are fair to middling that you’ll drive up behind a gigantic tractor, bigger than that little apartment you live in Up North, and, hooked to the back of that tractor you’ll see a massive cultivator or planter or sprayer. You won’t know what it is but what you will know is that it takes up most of both lanes of the two lane road you’re traveling on. Best just to accept the fact that you won’t be able to pass it for a while, so just calm down.

Sometime later, when you’re enjoying those Southern grown taters or onions or ears of corn or any number of other crops that thrive in our soil, you might come to understand that having to follow along behind some John Deere behemoth for a mile or two is a small price to pay for those tasty delicacies.

If you do decide to loosen up and take in the ambiance, you might start to notice what looks like long, straggly, gray hair hanging from the trees. We’re pretty proud of that around these parts. William Faulkner mentioned it. So did Tennessee Williams and Harper Lee. It’s called Spanish moss and more than likely, the tree it’s attached to is a live oak. We’re proud of those too. You won’t find either of them outside of Dixie.

If you chance to arrive on Sunday you’ll see churches of all denominations dotting the entire Southern landscape, packed full with believers. Most of us down here do believe.

If you come in late summer or early autumn you’ll see fields busting wide open with something white that looks a lot like cotton.

Well, my non-Southern friends, it IS cotton. Cotton doesn’t really originate in cellophane bags from Johnson and Johnson.

We grow our own.

When you see those white fields, you can feel pretty assured, you’re somewhere in Dixie.

If you’re still not sure you’re there, just drive into any small town, find a local cafĂ© and order cream of wheat. Several things will happen. Any local folks who overheard you will snort or chuckle, your waitress will gently explain that no such thing exists around here, and the cook will send you out a bowl of grits.

Grits beat the starch out of cream of wheat.

If you’re still not sure you’ve located Dixie, keep driving till you see Magnolia trees brimming with huge, white blossoms, or pine trees that appear to stretch clear to the sky.

You’ve found living proof.

As a last resort, to make certain you’re really and truly in Dixie, stop and ask anybody you see for directions. What you’ll get is a slow, drawlful and very accurate route to where you want to go, but, pay close attention. You won’t hear any street names.

“Turn left at the half burnt barn” or “ Go bout a half-mile past the peanut patch on the right” will get you to your destination.

S.P.S. Southern Positioning System. It works. Trust me.

And welcome to Dixie.

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