It doesn’t matter where you go….grocery store, bait shop, hardware store, restaurant, boat ramp, campground. Inevitably, you’ll meet someone. And without hesitation they’ll start talking to you and they’ll genuinely talk to you as if they’ve known you their whole life.
First of all, the local accent is a beautiful thing. Just the way they pronounce their words makes everything they say sound friendly. Most words are drawn out, so a word like “bill” becomes “bee-ill.” If they want to say they’re going fishing later, they’ll say, “I’m fixin’ to go fishin’!” And everyone is polite! We especially notice it with young people. “Sir” and “Ma’am” are common. “Pardon me,” “‘Excuse me,” “Thank ya,” or “Thankee much” are also common.
Secondly, there are details. The locals you meet do not carry on one-minute conversations. They do not ask, “How ya doin?” and then keep walking on. As soon as they say, “hello,” it’s on! The details they tell you are fascinating. And if they’re talking about themselves, within minutes you know everything about them and their family, their neighbor, their friend, their “young-ins’.” And why? Because they aren’t in any hurry. The pace of their life corresponds to the pace of their conversation…slow and relaxed. Southern folk have all the time in the world and they are never rushed. You will never see their heads buried in a cell phone. As a matter of fact, Cary and I can’t recall seeing a single local using their cell phone.
We met a man in the bait store yesterday. He stopped us and said that Cary looked just like his boss’s cousin and then it was on…within five minutes we knew all about his retirement, and then when and why he went back to work, and then when he took on another job, his new puppy, and what he planned to do later in that afternoon.
He also spoke affectionately about Franklin County. He said it’s 60 miles long, with one traffic light, one stop sign, and one fast food restaurant. He told us Franklin County is 550-square-miles and 87 percent of it is protected either by the state or the federal government. It’s made up of 17 islands with 200-plus miles of shoreline and beaches that are mostly undisturbed and pristine.
The other day we were fishing and we drifted up to a pier, but tried to back away because another man was already fishing there. Then the man yelled out to us. “Pull ’round heah! Anchor your boat ’bout 50 feet out and half way down the pier where the pier starts to slope down. Use split-shot, not those corks you have on.” And he continued, “Yesterday, I limited out right dar, in ’bout an ar & 1/2.” Sure enough, we started hooking up Reds. The man encouraged us to keep going and we ended up fishing alongside him for 3-4 hours. Now, that’s southern kindness at its best!
It’s no wonder Cary and I are drawn to the beauty and friendliness of Franklin County and maybe one day soon, we’ll be calling it home. ❤️