Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris

The seductive South

I used to think I was staying put because of my age, or my job, or any number of other reasons. A huge factor would surely be that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve moved since college graduation. (Is it 15 houses now in 30 years?)

No, despite my frustrations with our state, I know I’ll never leave for long. I just didn’t know why until Scott bought a camera and started compiling photo essays of our creeks and landscapes.

Looking at his latest offering of bald eagles on Shoal Creek, I realized every season pulls me home.  Just yesterday, I noticed the azaleas and irises are blooming in our backyard. The dogwood tree beside the driveway rivals a bride’s regalia in its beauty. 

Before many weeks pass, summer will explode in green, my favorite color, and in hot, my favorite temperature. Fall, when it comes, will be mild and tease of cooler weather. Winter will be long enough to remind me of former days in Kansas, Indiana and New York, and make me happy I no longer live in any of those snow-piled climes.

I might dream of a better South and pray for a kinder South, but I’m not leaving. The geography of the South seduces and entices me, compelling me to stay for one more glance. Every day finds me thinking, if ever I could leave, it wouldn’t be now.​

By Jenny Morris

About the time Daughter No. 1 volunteered for AmeriCorps, Scott had friend Wayne Williams paint a picture of my maternal ancestral home. I was so taken with the results that I hung the painting in my living room.

A fixture of family myth, the three-story Cincinnati stone house is proof that at least one branch of my family tree once grew in Northern soil.  Of course, the Civil War sword from the Ohio Regiment is, too, but we don’t talk about that so much.

When Daughter No. 1’s Teach for America placement came back as Cincinnati, I joked that Wayne’s picture had drawn her back, much like the magical houses prevalent in children’s literature of the mid-20th century.

In less than 40 days, she will finish the school year. Probably she will visit us half the summer, but she doesn’t plan to come home. Ever. In fact, she’s says here isn’t home anymore.  She’s the emigrant who got away.

I miss her, but, for her, I’m glad she’s gone. Certainly, if she continues in education, I’m glad she won’t be subject to the misogynistic attitudes reflected in our state’s practices toward an education force that is 80 percent female. 

Nor will she chafe under laws and traditions that constrict women’s health care accessibility. 

I’m glad she’ll live somewhere that government tries to mitigate the effects of poverty on the vulnerable and invests in future caretakers, police officers and food service workers.

But she’s probably the only one of our six children who will leave the South. Though I’m a graduate in the “never-say-never” school of life, I doubt Scott and I are going anywhere, either.