“So where is the South? Well, that depends on which South you’re talking about. Some places are Southern by anybody’s reckoning, to be sure, but at the edges it’s hard to say where the South is because people have different ideas about what it is. And most of those ideas are correct, or at least useful, for some purpose or other.” – John Shelton Reed.
It’s been fun to think about this question over the years. I have seen southern traits in places I didn’t expect to – southern Illinois, for example. And there are almost entire states that are apparently part of the South, but don’t feel at all southern to me – Oklahoma and Texas in particular.
What constitutes “the South” is a topic already tackled by others. By almost every definition, Arkansas is firmly in the South. Some even throw Missouri in at the fringes.
For me the South starts with Pine trees. And Bojangles. By the Bojangles map (below) we are not in the south.
What about pine trees? The distinct smell when you get off the plane in much of the South the summer. In the map below, states where the Loblolly Pine is found are shaded dark green, with the actual counties where the Pines are found shaded light green.
Although I haven’t investigated this thoroughly, I suspect there are some anomalies due to human plantation: the bright green in the middle of Oklahoma, for example, where Oklahoma City lies. But generally light green marks the south, for me.
So are we in the South? Not by my map. We are in Conway County, Arkansas, which is dark green. The county to the south is Perry County, which is a light green. So we’re very close. In the map below you can see the county line at the bottom. We are on the shore of Lake Bailey.
So we have failed the Bojangles test and the Loblolly Pine test (but just barely). We’re still in the Mid-West.
– Anthony, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas