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Southern Hospitality & An Exceptional Community
Did you know that if you are from up north, and you visit a state that is southern enough you are called a yankee. If you move down south you then earn the status of damn yankee.
Wherever you move to, your new community has to get to know you. This process takes a while longer in the south in my opinion. When you move to an area and you do not have children in the school system you need to find a way to meet your new local community.
Luckily for me I had my business. Selling at farmers markets and joining the local Chamber of Commerce made it easy to begin the integration process. It took a while, but I started networking with my new people.
My first social event was a fundraiser called "Empty Bowls" this is my favorite event ever. For a fee (usually $15. or less) you pay at the entrance, you choose a handmade bowl from a sea of locally made bowls donated by potters. Then you fill your bowl with soup, gather some bread and silverware and join your neighbors sitting in the high school cafeteria. Literally breaking bread with your new friends. The very best part is that all money collected goes to feed your neighbors in need.
I live in Floyd county Virginia. We have a very diverse population here and it works wonderfully! Walking into that cafeteria I teared up a bit, thinking these are my people, this is where I belong. There were people in their Sunday best who came from church, musicians, children, plenty of people in tie dyed shirts and well worn jeans....and more. There was no shortage of people to talk with and get to know.
There really is something called “southern hospitality” the warmth that I have felt coming from all of my new friends in Virginia is something that just touches my heart. So many of my new friends have been there for me, to lend a hand, a shoulder, or just to listen. They have opened up their homes for me, when I was working on my property and needed a place to stay, they have fed me, loaned me tools, and helped in so many ways. My new friend Janet (now my adopted big sis) even planted flowers for me on my property out by the gate before I officially moved in!
I do not know why, but Connecticut never felt like a good fit for me. Once during winter on a blustery day of about 34 degrees I had a tire blow out on Route 91, a major highway. It was a miracle that I managed to get to the side of the road safely. I sat there for about forty five minutes watching people whizzing by. Some drivers looked, no one stopped. (I did not have a cell phone at the time) Finally when someone did stop it was a beat up old van from New York! I love New York!
Last winter when I could not get up my icy hill here in Virginia, I parked about three quarters of a mile away at a friends home. She was not home so I left the car and started to walk home. I did not even get one quarter of a mile before a young man and his son stopped to offer a ride. They were adorable. The dad as taking his son out deer hunting for the very first time. The boy was so excited!
Yes, many hunt here in the south. This is responsible hunting, for food. This is not done in a stupid sporting kind of way, not just trophy hunting which I despise. A friend of mine has filled my freezer once a year with all the venison that I want. It has really helped make ends meet.
When I go to the garage to have my car worked on, the mechanic has offered me his personal car if I needed it! That never happened in Connecticut.
Another little thing I truly love about where I live is that on the backroads we wave to each other. You do not need to know the other person, it is just an acknowledgement that we are in this together, we are neighbors. One day when I was by the roadside picking up chestnuts I had three people stop to just ask if I was OK.
What I didn't know
I went to school in Connecticut, I was taught what I now call Northern Speak. For the first time in over fifty years I have heard the following words and phrases actually being used: reckon, yonder, holler, y'all, fixin' to, bless her heart, buggy and more! Yes, I knew these words and phrases existed, however I never heard them used up north. My dear friend who supplies me with venison has told me a few times that he is "going to learn me to speak right"
You have to pay attention to tone because bless your heart can be a double edged sword. It is used with love and sincerity, or as a sarcastic weapon of words. What is a shopping cart up north is a buggy in Virginia.
I did not know that I would fall in love with the land and the people here. There are areas that I drive by once or twice a month that still make me emotional when I see their beauty. The hills and valleys, the peaceful cows grazing, trees everywhere, bales of hay on the hillsides when farmers are "in the hay" This is gods country.
I have lost count of how many times I have woken up and gone outside to find cows in my yard. My friends son has a pasture adjacent to my property. I enjoy helping them get back in. When I can find the time I put on my muck boots and walk with them in the pasture. I can see the cows from the windows in my home office.
Now I am in the position to say thank you Floyd! thank you Virginia! I love it here! I now work on the Floyd Tourism Advisory Board, I help where and when I can, I donate to causes I hold dear. There is a "Buy Nothing" group on Facebook, we also have a group for our county on Facebook. It is wonderful when ideas and news are shared. There is a fairly new timebank starting near Floyd. So many wonderful resources where we can help one another as a community!
Being here in Virginia has really taught me what being there for one another really means.