Tuesday, July 15, 2014
“In a Mountain Greenery, where God paints the scenery” (sorry atheists, but who else?). These great Lorenz Hart lyrics were penned to a catchy tune composed by Richard Rodgers in a long ago revue called Garrick Gaieties, Second Edition (1926).
I am writing to you this day from the glorious mountains of North Carolina where we are escaping the blistering heat and humidity of our Little Florida Hideout. It is quite true that the jabs we directed at our Northern friends during this past winter's terrible days of cold, snow, ice and sleet have come back to haunt us. Florida summers are very hot and humid, our version of northern frigidity. Now it is the Reillys on the tip of the spear. It reminds me again of the repeated warnings by my late, sainted mother to “never make fun of others or it will happen to you.” As in the case of giggling at male pattern baldness, it did.
My own experience with mountain ranges like the Poconos and the Catskills are one thing (or two), but North Carolina is something else. And so are the people who inhabit them. Very friendly folk, helpful and virtually always well mannered. When wife Joan went over a mountain to buy The New York Times (limited readership here) she introduced herself and chatted a bit with the lady behind the counter. As she left this lady said “you have a very nice afternoon, Miss Joan.” Try that in Bayonne, let alone Brooklyn. Also everyone waves, all the time. And not the index finger version we so often see in the big cities.
Yes, you experience a certain culture shock when you transition from the Northeast to the mountains of North Carolina, but I suggest it is a positive one. There is much to be said about taking one thing at time instead of attempting to multitask 24/7. Up North the use of the term “Redneck” trips quickly off the tongue. (God only knows what those good 'ol boys in their pickup trucks with rifle racks hanging down from the rear windows really think of we Northerners.) Like most Yankees who have been raised on stereotypes, I wondered if “Redneck” and “Hillbilly” are one and the same. At least judging from the men and women we have met here in the mountains, I think not, but would be hard pressed to explain the difference in detail. I just know that we like the mountain men and women.
Part of our family, Bill and Michele, loves to hike, and hike and hike with a little bit of rock climbing thrown in. I left such things at Fort Benning over 60 years ago, but all is not lost. With a cool beer in hand, it's easy enough to watch them go at it from a rocking chair well placed out on the front porch.
We are partial to roadside fruit and vegetable stands even though they have first-class supermarkets here. Joan stopped by one stand the other day to inquire about their potatoes, tomatoes and corn. An elderly man in a rocking chair went into a patient explanation based on his own long lifetime of farming each. Great info from a nice guy.
The eternal lesson here, taught to me once again, is to accept people individually and not as groups. Finally, I'm getting it.