A Place Called Home
This is actually the picture that inspired this little project. It was the beginning of May and I was driving along Highway 82, headed from Cuthbert to Shellman, when I looked over and saw a field that I had seen close to a million times before. But there was just something about it on that day that made me pull over on the side of the road and snap a picture.
The field had just been plowed, so the red Georgia clay was fresh on the surface. The pecan trees had sprouted vibrant green leaves, which any Southerner knows, is the final sign that winter is over and spring has arrived. The dainty wildflowers along the highway were also doing their best to welcome the warmth and sunshine of spring. And it goes without saying that the Georgia pines were still standing tall and green. But what I think makes this scene so wonderfully Southern is the old wooden barn. Who knows what it used to store, or who used to work inside its wooden walls. Today it sits there, weathered by the sun, wind, and rain, slowly rusting and deteriorating while larger and newer barns house larger and newer machines. It’s just like a grandfather passing along his place to his son or grandson.
Scenes like this one are the South. The South is a region with large cities such as Atlanta, Charleston, and New Orleans and it is slowly modernizing, though perhaps reluctant to urbanize. Rural culture and agriculture have been the heart of Southern culture from the beginning and remain so to this day. That’s why if you couldn’t ride around and see farmland for as far as the eye could see, scattered with old barns and houses, you wouldn’t be in the South any more.
I will be the first to admit that the South that I have portrayed in this photo essay is a rather idealized and romanticized version of the actual South that we live in from day to day. Because I am well aware that the real South also entails racism, homophobia, extreme literalist religious sects, far right wing conservatism, along with the lowest education scores in the nation. I know all of this, and for these reasons, it sometimes seems that the South doesn’t love me back as much as I love it.
But the South that was shown in the last sixteen pictures – the South of porches, warm smiles, and Family, the South of iron-clad friendships and love that transcends boundaries – also exists, and this is the South that I grew up in. In all my travels, this is the South that I reminisce about and tell people of. This is the South that I call Home.
The South: A Photo Essay by W. J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.