Doing the Research on the Region
In my neighborhood, people dress in their team colors from head to toe, whether the team is winning or losing.
We cheer for hot dogs and bratwurst running around the warning track of a baseball field, and grab for a camera if they wander through our line of sight before a game.
The saying, "If you don't like Wisconsin weather, wait a day" reminds visitors that we Northerners take pride in our abilities to tough it out in almost any amount of snow and cold. Teachers teach metaphor through the use of the term Frozen Tundra to describe Lambeau Field.
But does this really tell who we are, what we're like, the personality of our distinctive locale? Maybe it would it be more effective to tell you about making a homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese from the farmers' market, walking out to the garden on a beautiful fall day to pick a green onion and green pepper for toppings, and then serving it as we watch the noon kickoff.
Either way, Sunday afternoon football is an important part of our lives. So is weather. Gardening, farming, and buying the local products and produce are important, too.
When I talked with author Nicholas Sparks, I asked about setting for his novels. As he responded I felt like I could see and feel the images of the places he described. I asked him about the research involved in successfully placing a novel in a particular setting, and he told me that in general he doesn't have to do much research because "...in every novel that I’ve written I have been to the town that I’ve described. And of course as a novelist I feel free to take certain liberties when I need to because I’m a novelist and I can do such things." I call it literary license or creative freedom, Nicholas, so I'm with you there.
He reminded his listeners and readers that "it’s just part of...living in the south and writing about the south. And it’s the way people tell stories, it’s just the way it is down here. It’s a very different world in some places. I live in a small town that I swear hasn’t changed much in 30 years. I mean it is, people walk places, it’s very hot and muggy, you’ve got the Spanish moss hanging from trees, kids running around barefoot. It’s very much like it, it’s like a place stuck in time. And whenever you’re in rural areas of the south it is, of the south, it’s often like that. It’s just, yeah it’s moved up, it’s got the, we’ve got cell phones and the whole bit but the core of the place has not changed. And it is a unique and wonderful place...."
A unique and wonderful place. I feel the same way about my lovely town and neighborhood. It's changed with the times, it has the old homes, the big trees, and kids on bikes and skateboards side by side with the teens on mopeds; the foam wedge headgear we call cheeseheads side by side with the baseball caps sporting farm advertising; the #4 jerseys in green or gold or pink...let's not mention the new hue, but I digress. Packer football is as much a part of this unique and wonderful home as the weather.
Absolutely. Real life or novel, this setting has its own character, its own part to play in the story of our lives. Stumble It!