Saturday, June 4, 2011

Faulkner's 'Rowan Oak' and My Southern Summers

I spent the summers of youth in the house shown above. This home is near downtown Helena, Arkansas. Helena is about 65 miles south of Memphis on the Mississippi and not too far from the famed 'crossroads' of the blues. Most of the music and the subtleties of delta culture were beyond the comprehension of the child I was.
The house above is William Faulkner's home in Oxford, Mississippi. That both these homes are Greek Revival is an interesting coincidence. As I entered adulthood and spent time reading Faulkner I associated the sights, sounds and smells of Helena and nearby Moon Lake with the feel and the descriptions Faulkner provided in his work.

I have often thought of Faulkner as an explanation of the complexity behind the scenes of the summers I spent in the south. Whether or not this is true is hard to say - but it is not hard to say that the south has stayed with me in deep and profound ways and it remains a touchstone. When I go there I see how it has changed and how I have changed. Growth and aging, maturation, sweetening, mellowing and the remnants of what was. And hard life. This is not to say that I 'know' the south, only that is has been and remains an important part of my heritage.