The Road South


Lately I’ve spent a fair bit of time driving south of the Mason Dixon line. The trek leads me along the mighty Ohio River through the most impoverished counties in Ohio and five of the poorest states in the USA:  Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In the rural South, county, not town denotes location of residence. The nearest grocery is fifteen minutes away on lonely road at 55 mph. The horizon is flat, landmarks are churches, and the industry is agriculture, military and marine.

Waiting for a lunch of boiled shrimp, I tell the folks beside me I’m here to help a family member who is ill. They reply with, “Ya’ll enjoy your tour of duty.” Later, I stop roadside to gather up a handful of raw cotton left behind when the field was picked; the crop trucked to a Japanese owned milI. I don’t know if the men sitting on the bridge are fishing or resting, or have given up.

It is easy to look at the economic scale and compare, longing for more. But everything is relative. And here, I am “the 1%.” I see that I have all I need, and more.

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