Many of us were lucky enough to grow up with a porch - either in the front of the house or the back. If you were very fortunate, you had both. And even if your house didn't have one, your grandparents house probably did. It's just one of the many benefits of growing up in the South. Porches not only offer a shady spot to sit and reflect, they are also the birthplaces to some great ideas. Many a problem was sorted out from the comfort of a squeaky old rocker perched on the faded boards of a country porch. It was also the proper spot to welcome visitors.
Think back to Atticus Finch on his Mississippi porch chatting with neighbors about all manner of issues. And don't forget Andy Taylor on his porch swing providing Opie was sage counsel or picking a guitar as Barney kept time by tapping his toe. Porches are obviously not unique to the South but they just seem to mean more down here. When I think back to visits at my grandparents home in North Carolina, I'm always drawn first to the modest front porch and the two matching rockers. They both looked like they might collapse from the weight of one more user (the rockers, not my grandparents!), but they somehow endured. It is a rock solid memory and one that reminds me just how rock solid my grandparents were as well.
So find a good porch and sit a spell. If you can play a guitar (or any other instrument) have at it. If life has given you some trying issue to ponder, give the porch a chance to help you through it. Or even if you don't have a care in the world, enjoy a gentle breeze and the company of family, friends, or a lazy hound dog who considers this spot his favorite place to take a nap.
I only recently began doing art shows and I have been surprised at what I've learned. These events are large in scale and include many vendors and many more shoppers. It is fast paced and exciting, and it is a thrill every time I sell a piece I created. But the best part has been the people I've met. Folks see something in my booth that sparks a memory or emotion and they want to talk about it. I'm not really any kind of salesman, so I don't crowd guests when they wander in, but most of them want to chat. I like that. I have met some really nice people at these events and it makes the experience very rewarding.
Of course, not everyone who wants to talk is also going to purchase, but that's okay. I still enjoy the interaction. It is a special feeling knowing that something I put on paper makes people light up and want to happily share their stories and memories. I didn't really expect that, but I enjoy it tremendously. The other great surprise about these events are my fellow artisans. They obviously are a very talented group but they are also very helpful and very genuine. When another vendor learns that I'm new to this lifestyle, they bend over backwards to help. They offer great advice on things to do and - just as important - things not to do if you want to be successful in this industry. I have been overwhelmed by their willingness to help and their acceptance into their ranks.
If you attend big events like the Craftsmen's Classic spring and Christmas shows, you know what a great time they are. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. You will be blown away by the talent level of the men and women who travel across the country sharing their many wonderful creations. And, of course, please stop by the Old South Art booth to chat me up. I look forward to it.
We all have places we need to get to, and often we are in a hurry to get there. That's just how life works. But when you have the time to slow the pace a bit, nothing beats pulling off the interstate and winding down good old country roads. James Taylor sang about walking down these roads, but driving can be just as satisfying.
The sights you see along these windy - and often rough - secondary roads are like little reminders to what life used to be. It's hard to imagine getting by without highways and I certainly would not want to find out, but a slow trip down a rough stretch of two lane blacktop (or gravel) is good for the soul. You see the tattered remains of country stores, farms, and old school houses. You see mile after mile of long since rotted fence posts being choked to death by honeysuckle or brier. And of course you see tons of rust - cars, trucks, tractors. etc. They long ago stopped being useful but still they hang on, stubbornly clinging to the past. I am a big fan of the rust.
I never roll down my window on the interstate. There is just too much noise and fumes to find any pleasure in inviting the outside in, but even on cool days I have to put the window down when I'm on country roads. To me, that completes the experience. Of course on those warm, sticky summer days the unmistakable aroma of a cow pasture or pig farm can be a rude intruder to the interior of your car but that is all part of the journey.
These old roads are a good place to work out a lot of life's more perplexing problems. It is easier and far more peaceful to ponder great concerns when you're not bumper to bumper at 75 mph with a road full of aggressive and often angry motorists. As citizens of the South, we live in a part of the world that is rich in history and simple beauty. So I strongly suggest whenever you have the time to spare, veer off the superhighway and ease your way down memory lane. Sure, you will get home a little later but you are almost certain to be in a great mood when you do arrive.
Here's wishing the very best for you and yours for the upcoming holiday season. It's a very special time for family and friends so please cherish every moment of it. I'm excited about the promise of the new year as we have many new projects to release. I look forward to sharing those with you in the coming weeks and months. But for now, Merry Christmas!
I have to admit that I'll never understand anyone in this country who does not stand when the National Anthem is played. The moment is not intended for you to show your opinion of our current president, no matter who that might be. Nor is it intended for you as an individual to show your displeasure over anything going on in your personal life or the country at large. It is not about you ... unless you served.
The reason we all should stand is simple: our anthem is just a small way for us to show our gratitude toward the men and women who have put themselves in harm's way - up to and including giving their own lives - so that the rest of us can do whatever we please in this great country. That's it. There is nothing more to it. If we were intended to stand before football games to honor our president, they would play Hail to the Chief, not the Star Spangled Banner. You don't decide from week to week if you respect our veterans. You respect them every minute of every day. You thank them every time you encounter them. And you honor them by respectfully standing while our anthem is played. End of story.
I hear all the various reasons given for not standing, but really there is only one. It's a "Hey, all eyes on me!" moment. Nothing more. It's interesting that we have citizens who enjoy all the freedoms we have in this country pull this stunt, but you never see a veteran disrespecting the anthem just so everyone will notice him or her.
I'm not blindly following our current administration and I don't think anyone should ever do that. Any individual capable of reasonable thought can form their own opinions on all topics around us. And I'm not aware of any president in our history who got it right every time, so decide for yourself case by case, issue by issue. Not agreeing on everything is at the core of what makes us great. I listen to your ideas and you listen to mine, and we settle on a plan. If we can do that, together we will find the right path.
But there is one thing we can - and should - all agree on. The men and women that have served and continue to serve this country are better than the rest of us. They are special. They are heroes. And we should respect the hell out of that.
Old South Art is a producer of original artwork, focusing on southern themes. We are based in Central Virginia and are developing images from this great state as well as our neighboring southern states. The map renderings are offered as an artist's viewpoint, and while they are accurately drawn, they are not intended for navigational purposes.
Owned and operated by Old South Art, LLC. All rights reserved.