Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All My Bags Are Packed…

Birds do it. Butterflies do it. Caribou do it. No, not that “it.” They all migrate, and today (11/3) I start my semi-annual journey. I always have mixed emotions about this change in residences. I love being up north for spring, summer and fall. In many ways I like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula winter where the snow stays white for months…and months…and months.

And there’s the rub. With eight miles from our house to the first road that the county plows, I either need to hope logging companies are working nearby and plowing the roads or I must push aside a lot of snow with my trusty Bobcat. Jan and I did stay the whole 2006-7 winter and we both agree it was great. I could be persuaded to do it again, but I don’t think Jan is up for it—after all, staying up north can be an “all in” experience.

As the time for leaving approaches, regret for what might be lost turns into anticipation of what I will soon gain in Georgia’s low country—warmer weather not the least of the positives. We leave one set of friends for another. We trade the deep north woods for the wide open vistas of salt marshes. This time of year we gain almost an hour and forty minutes of sunlight!

The biggest difference between our two residences is the people. In the north with so few days of decent weather, there is an unconscious push not to waste time. The growing season is short and people stay BUSY. The South is lugubrious in comparison. I don’t want to imply people in the South don’t work hard, but there is a measured pace to everything from speech (the drawl) to foot speed to the pacing in literature. Storytelling in the north traditionally occurs huddled around the woodstove during long winter nights. Storytelling in the south takes place while it is too dang hot during the heat of summer days to do anything more robust than slowly rock on the veranda.

These differences become apparent in the literature styles of the north and south. I suppose you could epitomize them with Robert B. Parker representing the north: short, choppy sentences with lots of dialogue to move the plot along, and James Lee Burke representing the south: long, flowing descriptions of the bayou country and how a protagonist fits into the landscape.

Reminds me I’ll always be a northern boy, even when the time comes that I live only in the south.

~ Jim


Warren Bull said...

Have a safe journey.

Jillian said...

Sounds like an ideal way to exist- leave the hot, unbearable summers in the south! I'm a southerner and sometimes in the middle of August and even late September, I wish I could escape from the heat to the upper states.

I write like a person from the north as you describe them- I can't do all that flowery stuff- short, choppy sentences and quick dialogue are my fortes.

Have a safe trip down to the sunnier climes. Enjoy!

Pauline Alldred said...

For Southern writers, I think also of Pat Conroy. In my Northern soul, I couldn't for a minute tolerate all that psychological nonsense in a story. That's what neuroses are for, to bring twists and quirks to a story. But Pat Conroy's exploration of the dysfunctional family works for me.

E. B. Davis said...

Sounds as if you are a snowbird, Jim. Even NY already has snow, so you probably escaped upper Michagan just in time. Ever run into Bob Seger up near your northern home?