Guest Blogger Wynn Malone

Y'allSouthern Voice
By Wynn Malone

My Southern accent is as thick as mule-turned molasses in January. Being born and raised in LA, Lower Alabama, that is, I didn’t stand a chance of emerging unscathed into the world of proper diction. So whenever I wander from the confines of the Mason-Dixon Line, the first thing I’m asked is, “Where are you from?”

“Alabama,” I say, and then I wait for the knowing nod. What comes next is always a crap shoot. Sometimes people will ask me if I happen to know their second cousin, twice removed, who they think may live somewhere around Birmingham, or maybe Mobile, they’re not sure. Since the population of Alabama is nearly five million people, I figure I probably don’t know their second cousin, twice removed, but I always give them the courtesy of thinking about it for a moment or two. Then I politely say I don’t believe I do.

DSC_0050After that, if the conversation continues, things really get fun. Sometimes stereotypes come spilling out of people’s mouths in ways that would be offensive if we weren’t so used to it. But more often than not, a true dialog begins. What is it like, they want to know. What is the South really like? I can only tell them what it is like from my perspective, which usually goes like this:

The South is a place filled with the kinds of contradictions that make for great stories and passionate storytellers. At times, conflict permeates the air with the heavy thickness of a still, August night. Other times, laughter fills the evening breeze in a way that brings easy sleep. Family ties run deep here, which leads to all kinds of mischief and tragedy. Friendships afile0001945276379bide highs and lows, and most of the time we come back to each other. We play hard and sometimes go to church with hang-overs. We like marriage so much a lot of us do it more than once. We like to eat and we like to grow food, and quite a few of us know how to hunt and fish for it, too. Our urban areas are filled with great restaurants and symphonies and playhouses, and our musical history is as rich as it gets. We brew alcohol in one county and forbid it in the next. We ride everything from Harleys to mules, and I once had a childhood friend whose sister’s horse kicked her sister so hard their father got rid of all of their horses, so they rode cows.

81NM0UFKcIL._SL1500_We are aware of our history, and in many ways we are bound by it. We can’t dismiss the racial injustice and reactionary political BS as if it never happened and isn’t still. Many of us desperately want to break the cycle. We are sorry that this is what you see of the South in your history books and modern news articles. We wish we could move on, though it seems not everyone here is convinced we should.

And so it goes. Many people want to know why we stay in the South, as if it is a burden to live in the land of our birth. Many of us are spiritually and emotionally tied to landscapes and families and traditions that are not easily forgotten. Most of us find our niche here. We are happy, and sometimes the absurdity of the South is the very thing that draws us to it.

We stay because we want to stay. Besides, where else are we going to find sweet tea?

Table_Rock

 

Wynn Malone is the author of two novels; the recently published Finding the Grain (Bywater Books), and Blown Away (Harrington Park Press), which she wrote under the pseudonym, Perry Wynn.  She can be reached through her website at wynn@wynnmalone.com or you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment here for a chance to win a signed copy of Finding the Grain.

Guest Blog Monday: Laurie Salzler

Zac-1545Never Give Up… a dog’s story

Zach seemed a friendly enough Staffy when he shuffled out of the shade of the house. He and his “sister” Zo, also a Staffordshire Terrier, ran out to greet the car when we drove in to check out a flat available for rent. It met my needs and three days later, I moved in.

My landlord’s house is a mere fifteen feet away, so I enjoy daily, sometimes hourly, visits from the dogs. My door is always open and the dogs come and go as they please. We all know if the dogs aren’t with them, they’re with me, and visa versa.

One late afternoon, Zach arrived and despite urging to come home from Cheryl, he decided to spend the night with me… and a strong bond began forming between he and I. In the days to come, I learned he was a survivor of abuse.

When rescued by Cheryl he was nothing but skin and bones. Cheryl told me she’d never seen such an emaciated dog. He had numerous lesions from fighting and having to live chained on a cement pad with no shelter for god knows how long. He subsisted on scraps thrown to him…if his owner remembered. The canon bone between his hock and paw on a hind leg had been broken and not properly cared for. So he walks with a swagger and not surprisingly has the beginnings of arthritis in his leg and back.

pl3bOn arrival, he was cautiously quiet, subdued and not sure of what was expected of him. I’m sure to his amazement, there was no aggression, no females to breed, plenty of food and water, and a soft bed to sleep on… and plenty of love. His healing had to start somewhere, and he had to be patient waiting for the memories to fade, the bad dreams to cease. It was only then, many weeks later that an internal change occurred. Zach began actively searching out physical contact. He’s a leaner, but that isn’t always enough. It’s a gentle hand he desires most. Belly rubs are his favorite. Whether lounging on the futon with me, or lying on my bed, he insists on having his head on my chest or tucked under my chin, and always the presence of my hand on him.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen an incredible change in this handsome boy. He has completely exited his emotional shell formed of the past. He ecstatically plays with Zo, he wags his tail nearly incessantly, his ears are up, and he “talks.” Best of all, a beautiful light has ignited in this boy’s eyes. Instead of defeat, bright brown orbs speak of self-assuredness, love and trust.  We didn’t change this boy, but we did give him the platform and tools to do it on his own. When he was ready, he did it.

Zac

Positive Lightning is about learning to trust and love oneself enough to accomplish feats not within a scope of belief at the time. We learn, we grow…and because we grow, we learn. It’s in the heart, just waiting for that discovery.

 Leave a comment here for a chance to win a signed copy of Positive Lightning.