The South is built on contradictions. A mansion built next to a pieced together trailer is more the norm than the exception to the rule. And, more often than not, these neighbors are good friends. Well-loved mules in a manicured pasture, like my friend Creekmore’s. In my next life I want to be one of his mules. And it sits across the road from a couple with two horses in a pasture that has only been cut down once in the five years we’ve lived here. And horses, as pets. At least they don’t bring them inside.
And that brings me to the real story. Farm equipment that breaks down is left wherever it quits working, like my neighbors with the pet horses. In Wisconsin, I once saw farm land decorated with rusty pieces of farm equipment, but they intentionally created a mosaic on their land. That’s not what I’m talking about here in the South. Like this tractor in the horse pasture, it just sits there. It’s been there since last Fall, and it ain’t going anywhere any time soon.
And then there’s my property. I can’t tell on my neighbors unless I tell on myself. A gravel driveway in need of more gravel breaks through a stand of trees and winds down to my house. We haven’t done much except saw up downed trees for firewood and built a few trails for Fred, our UTV, to travel through. But when the house comes in sight, we have a manicured lawn and my new passion, gardens. My gardening is for myself, not the world. I’m currently building rock borders around all of them. I had to find some use for all of these rocks we’re growing on our land. Did I tell you we Southerners are resourceful, too.
It’s not unusual to see an abandoned car on the side of Route 64, a scenic highway in Tennessee. (That’s the road that leads to the Jack Daniels Distillery.) When you first notice the empty car, you figure the owner went for help. If you travel this road often, you notice it’s been there for a few days. Now, what’s up with that? My brother’s theory is someone stole the car and went joy-riding. When it ran out of gas, they got out, walked away, and went on to find another vehicle. My theory is they have enjoyed the trip to Jack Daniels, stepped out to rid themselves of extra liquids, and forgot where they parked it. Whatever the reason, the State Trooper will tag it eventually, and someone will haul it off. And if you’re waiting for this to happen, you’ll sit a long time with your mouth wide open before a wild turkey flies in.
But the most confusing thing I’ve observed is the rusted out, broken windows trailer on Route 64. In and of itself, this isn’t an odd thing to see in Tennessee. What’s strange? This broken-down trailer replaced the one that fell in on that property a few years back. Yep, they pulled the old one out and put this one in its current condition on the blocks already set up. No one lives in it. It just sits on the property, like an ornament. It’s a Southern thing.
I love living in the South with all of its contradictions. I’m filled with energy every time I look around. Do you see contradictions in your part of the country? If so, please share them with me. I love hearing from y’all!