2012-08-29 / Editorial

Don Lively

THEY ARE YOUNG DIXIE

I’ve never been much of a fern kind of guy.

The first time I first heard the term “fern bar” I knew straight away that it wouldn’t be the kind of establishment I’d want to hang out in. After all, ferns are considered to be “fussy” plants, ones that need watering, feeding, pruning and caring for around the clock. I always preferred plants that were nearly impossible to kill, like say, cactus. There were plenty of those Out West where I lived for many years.

Did anybody ever consider starting a cactus bar?

Anyway, ferns were never high on my list of priorities.

Until I actually bought a couple of them.

My real job, the one that pays the freight, not the one where I spend some late nights at this keyboard trying to be witty and poignant, other nights trying to write the Great Southern American Novel, allows me to visit the local downtown businesses in our little city. One day I dropped in on a young woman who decided about a year ago that she wanted to start her own flower shop. She located a suitable building, came up with a game plan and went to work. By all appearances she’s doing just fine. I was telling her that I needed some greenery to dress up the front porch at the wooded enclave. She immediately suggested some big bushy ferns she had on sale for half off. She assured me that this particular strain only required a little sun, a little shade and water. I was sold and now my porch is shadier and cooler. Just because of a few ferns.

But today’s lesson is not really about ferns. It’s about a young businesswoman’s ability to sell ferns to an established plant murderer and a previously avowed fern detester.

Our town is full of young Southerner’s like her who, at least in my mind, put to rest the notion that the younger generation is lazy and unmotivated.

Take Sam for instance. She works as a waitress at a restaurant where I dine at least twice a week. I think she might really be Reese Witherspoon doing research for a movie role. She’s just as cute as the actress from down yonder in New Orleans. Sam seems to have unlimited energy and she can keep eight or nine tables of local eaters happy. She always greets me with a smile when I come in and as I’m leaving a tease about when she’s going to get a shout out “in the paper.” Well here you go, girlie.

Then there’s my nephew who recently took a position with a company very much like the one he used to visit with his Granddaddy to buy farm supplies. Now, instead of the curious tagalong kid, he’s serving area farmers. He’s perfectly suited for the job and it helps that he was born into a family rife with kinsmen skilled at the art of shoveling fertilizer.

Another local entrepreneur took an iconic, historic building, the site of the old hardware store, and turned it into a unique and cozy restaurant as good as any within a hundred miles. She studied the culinary arts and prepared herself to succeed in a tough business and now she’s what Daddy would have called the chief, cook and bottle washer.

Our neck of the woods is full of young folks just like these.

Like the young man who loaned me the money to build my house. His family has been in the banking business since Granddaddy borrowed money to purchase plow mules.

Or the young woman who, if the State or the Feds don’t haul me off before then, will be doing my taxes starting next year. That will require courage on her part.

Another young lady who requires copious amounts of bravery cuts my hair every few weeks and, at least so far, hasn’t injured herself or me in the complicated untangling.

The same young fellow who wore me out on the tennis court without breaking a sweat will probably sell me my next car, and later a young cousin will fix the inevitable dents that will mysteriously appear on that car when it’s parked at Wal-Mart or Target.

That’s the way it works. If you live long enough, all the jobs that once appeared to be done by ancient folks are now done by younguns.

And all those young folks have one big something in common.

Deep Dixie roots.

I’m encouraged.

The Blessed South continues to thrive.

Just like my immortal ferns.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of Howlin’ At The Dixie Moon. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com and visit his website, www.DonLively.com.

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