There’s something about the South. It’s really quite endearing and even though I lived near this particular area in the past (Northwest Arkansas), that was two decades ago. I’ve long since forgotten what the South is like.
I’m scraping the 50-year mark and I’ve lived all but 12 years in the Rocky Mountains. It’s my heritage. Four generations on both sides of my family have the wild west in them.
But the South fits, too.
I love that everything is slower here. I have shoes piled in various spots around the house because I’m always kicking them off. The feel of my feet on the back deck overlooking the lake and cool tile in our home invites me to slow down. Living in the city is fast-paced and people are too busy to get to know each other – even in a “small” city like Colorado Springs. Sure, there were lots of coffee shop get-togethers, but even then, it always felt like I was in a hurry.
Back in Colorado, church services start at 8 or 8:30 am, networking groups and business meetings are at 7 am and the rest of the day is a whirlwind, never really catching up.
The South is, well, slow and steady.
The first thing I noticed about Southwestern Missouri is that nothing moves before 10 am out here. My first morning in town I got up early and dragged my son to Panera to try to beat the crowds so I could get a client project finished and so we could have breakfast (as we didn’t have any internet or food in our temporary accommodations).
We were the only ones there.
At 9ish AM.
We repeated this for over a week while waiting to move into our home. Every morning we were nearly the only ones in the restaurant. I thought maybe Panera just wasn’t popular, but I noticed that around 10:30 AM the restaurant began to fill up.
In Missouri, Church services don’t begin until 10 AM at the earliest. Some are at 11. We don’t know what to do with ourselves on Sunday mornings. We’re so used to being home from church by 10:30 AM! Also, attending church is as common as Sweet Tea. It’s just what you do.
The community we live in is made up of many small towns. Everybody knows everybody.
Colorado Springs is known for its friendly residents but they don’t have anything on the Southerners. The slow and steady feel is in the air and no one is in a rush or feels under pressure. As a result, I find that there’s an overall sense of patience and kindness here.
Lake life and other cultural norms of this part of the South.
The easy, laid-back feel has a lot to do with the lake lifestyle. Pretty sure the majority of the population out here has a boat. Tan shoulders and freckles are abundant as nearly everyone spends as much time on the lake as possible. (We’re hoping by next year we’ll have our boat! For now, we get out on our kayaks)
In Colorado, there’s a Starbucks on every block. Out here, there’s one Starbucks in a 30-minute radius and a church on every block.
Instead of elevator music, you’ll hear the local Christian station. Car dealerships, retail stores, grocery stores, tourist stores…they all play Christian music. Yet, what has impressed me the most is that there’s a strong sense that people really do love Jesus. It’s not just lip-service. For the most part, the folks of Southwestern Missouri have a very personal, “I love Jesus and I love you” attitude. They’re genuinely kind and unpretentious.
The area is a mixture of affluent retired couples and rednecks that live in poverty. And everyone gets along.
Wages are much, much lower and honestly, that’s been the hardest part to adjust to. We took a significant pay cut to move out here. But it doesn’t seem to matter to us. I don’t hear folks worry or complain about money out here, but I heard it all the time back in Colorado. There’s a spirit here that is void of worry. A pleasant change and one we can definitely learn from!
The entertainment is, um, different.
As I mentioned, the main entertainment for the locals is the lake (love it!). But, we’ve learned that Southerners like their fireworks. Seriously, every day is the 4th of July here.
Since our arrival, there hasn’t been a night without fireworks going off somewhere.
But that’s nothing compared to the cannon.
One of our neighbors must be an old military man who loves a cannon. The first day in our house, I heard a loud BOOM that vibrated through the floor. It startled me so much, I ran downstairs to check on my teenage son. That loud boom has puzzled me since we moved into our house. Every day, for the last 62 days, that large boom rattles our ears, reminding me of the old Southern grandpa shooting off anvils in Sweet Home Alabama or the Admiral in Mary Poppins.
Due to our location on a peninsula that juts out into Table Rock Lake, the daily explosion reverberates along the steep hills and the thick woods provide ample cover. We have literally no idea where it is coming from. Some days it sounds like it’s ripping through the side of our house, other days as if it’s a bit further away and coming from a different direction. So until I discover otherwise, my mind envisions an old Confederate soldier shooting off an anvil like a rocket and I’m hoping one doesn’t crash through our home!
This culture is so much different than the one we left in Colorado…and I LOVE it! I don’t miss Colorado, and that surprises me. Missouri feels more like home. But that’s what started this transition in the first place. When we arrived for vacation last year my first thought was, “I’m home”.
I guess there really is something about the South because here we are.