The South is a Place

The South is a place. East, west, and north are nothing but directions.

— Letter to the editor, Richmond Times Dispatch, 1995

I am reading the delightful book Confederates in the Attic. The quote above opens the second chapter.

When I lived in Colorado I took every opportunity to explore the magnificent hiking trails and striking mountain vistas offered by the Rocky Mountains. When I lived in Albuquerque I breathed deep to absorb the Native American spirit still alive in The Land of Enchantment. And when I lived in Princeton, NJ, I savored Washington’s Crossing and then immersed myself in the local history surrounding the Revolutionary War.

Wine makers and coffee growers talk about concept called terroir. It can be loosely translated as “a sense of place.” It means that the wine and the coffee beans take on flavors from the ground and the climate and the local environment. It seems to me that this is an entirely human phenomena as well. I have been as deeply influenced by the grandeur of the Rockies, as I have by the Native American spirit in New Mexico or the power of the determination wrought by General George Washington those fateful nights in Trenton and Princeton, NJ.

I live in North Carolina now and it is ostensibly The South. The history and the terroir here tell of a place different from anywhere I have ever lived. It is definitely a place and not just a direction. I am doing what I can to take on the flavors of the ground, the climate and the local environment. Stay tuned . . .

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