June 21, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #14: Special Guest, Michael Harling

It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here. Be sure you include the link to your post at the bottom of this entry and also, tag your post "stss" or "small town snapshot sunday" so people can search for it and find you! MR. LINKY IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. PLEASE LINK TO YOUR ENTRY TODAY, NOT YOUR MAIN PAGE!

This week I've got a very special guest who is doing my post for me. His name is Michael Harling and he's the author of Postcards from Across the Pond. Michael is currently on his whirlwind virtual tour across America and today offers his own version of life in a small town...

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21 June 2009


It's good to be down in the south, and in a place I've never been before. I drove through Arkansas once a long time ago, but that's all, so I've never formed an impression of the place. Until now.

I was raised in the country and, as such, I'm more comfortable in small towns--the smaller, the better--and Wendy's place suits me just fine. She's been quite hospitable, as well, has Wendy, showing me around, introducing me to folks, taking me down to Archey Creek where we caught some craw-daddies and threw rocks at the water moccasins just to see them get annoyed. It was a real fine day, even if I did make the whole thing up.

It could have happened, though. In my day, I used to go down to the creek and fish out snapping turtles for my mom to make into soup. Sometimes we'd gather black caps and dandelion greens to have with dinner, or go into Ray Meyer's field to glean for potatoes that the 'tater digger missed. Those, too, were some fine days, and I didn't make them up. On the other hand, I do point out to my incredulous acquaintances--after assuring then that, yes, I really did grow up that way--that we stopped living like The Waltons as soon as they built the big supermarket in Greenport. Living off the land doesn't necessarily make you noble or mean you're trying to save the planet, sometimes it just means you have no other choice.

Still, it's nice to sit here on the porch with Wendy and Rob and Blogger the cat, feeling the breeze from the electric fan, talking of days gone by and exchanging recipes for dandelion wine and possum pie. And Rob makes a mean mint julep, I can tell you.

It's strange about the south, how the laid-back ways get to you almost before the heat and humidity does. Whenever I venture below the Mason-Dixon line for more than 12 hours, I start saying things like, "Y'all fixin' ta go down to the Winn Dixie?" Whereas I've been in England for seven years and I still speak like a Yankee. That'd be a Yankee by Wendy's definition--anybody north of Kentucky, and we're not sure too sure about them--not by the world's definition, meaning anyone from North America. (I've always wondered how offended a Southerner must feel when he's called a Yankee by some twit in a tweed coat and a clipped accent.)

In the southern states, there's a palpable sense of hospitality, something I sorely miss in this reserved and overcast land I now inhabit. Those times I did visit Dixie for an extended period, I felt as if I was being sucked into a vast vat of warm molasses, and I just wanted to melt and become part of it. That's how strong the feeling of friendship and hospitality is down here. They're all such wonderful people. No really, I mean that. I love you guys!

(Awkward silence.)

I'm okay; a gnat just flew into my eye, that's all.

Sorry, I guess it could be the humidity, or the mint juleps. Why, sure, Rob, I would like another. Thanks for asking.

Would you like to participate in the
Visit the Tour Page to sign up or view The Tour progress.

Michael Harling is an American author living in the UK,
touring the blog-world via the kindness of strangers.

[photo credit: minuk (mint julep), and Scott Abelman (snapping turtle)]


  1. Snapping turtle soup???hmmm....Im not that brave:)
    This was well written and makes me kinda sad we will be moving back to the desert from NC. I will surely miss the hospitality here.

  2. Hello Michael. Thanks for stopping by Wendy's blog. Your words created a southern picture for sure. Hope your tour turns out nicely. Enjoy your stops. Have a great day everyone.

  3. i love the smell of the south and have fond memories of my car breaking down in Arkansas once and how generous and hospitable the people were in taking me in and fixing it. wendy, i really do enjoy your blog and read it regularly!

  4. Um, don't think I'd be adventurous enough to try snapper soup either... but the mint julep, now that's another story!

    By golly, I think I'll make me a Sunday afternoon margarita. The power of suggestion. Works everytime... :)

    Hope y'all are havin' a swell Sunday!

  5. thanks for stopping by my blog. this was very interesting :)

  6. My first STSS... I hope I did it right. Also, it was nice spending a moment on the front porch with ya'll! I've never been to the south, but it sounds wonderful...

  7. Ah, mint julip. That's the problem with the south though, gnats everywhere. In LA I never got a single gnat in my eye. I have no worthy pictures this week.

  8. We were just chatting with the neighbor this weekend about making soup out of the snappers in his pond. And how I hoped they'd stay the heck out of our pond. They scare me!

    Possum Pie???!!! Goooo!!

  9. Thanks for the kind words, all. You really need to give snapping turtle soup a try.

    I'm currently heading to Tenerife in the virtual world and Syracuse, NY in the real one--if this were a contest, reality would lose ;)

  10. Several days late, and several dollars short. Sorry Wendy, I was overawed by your esteemed guest!


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