Quotes from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

Janisse Ray ·  224 pages

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“I carry the landscape inside me like an ache. The story of who I am cannot be severed from the story of the flatwoods.”
― Janisse Ray, quote from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“Turning back to embrace the past has been a long, slow lesson not only in self-esteem, but in patriotism—pride in homeland, heritage. It has taken a decade to whip the shame, to mispronounce words and shun grammar when mispronunciation and misspeaking are part of my dialect, to own the bad blood. What I come from has made me who I am.”
― Janisse Ray, quote from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“I think of my own life, how it embraces a great quest to know every cog of nature--the names of oaks and ferns, the secret lives of birds, the taste of venison and Ogeechee lime, wax myrtle's smell and rattlesnake's, the contour of bobcat tracks, the number of barred owl cackles, the feel of Okefenokee Swamp water on my skin under a blistering sun.
I search for a vital knowledge of the land that my father could not teach me, as he was not taught, and guidance to know and honor it, as he was not guided, as if this will shield me from the errancies of the mind, or bring me back from that dark territory should I happen to wander there. I search as if there were peace to be found.”
― Janisse Ray, quote from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“My homeland is about as ugly as a place gets. There's nothing in south Georgia, people will tell you, except straight, lonely roads, one-horse towns, sprawling farms, and tracts of planted pines. It’s flat, monotonous, used-up, hotter than hell in summer and cold enough in winter that orange trees won’t grow. No mountains, no canyons, no rocky streams, no waterfalls. The rivers are muddy, wide and flat, like somebody’s feet. The coastal plain lacks the stark grace of the desert or the umber panache of the pampas”
― Janisse Ray, quote from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“The moral of the story, Son," Pun would say, "is Don't take more on your heart than you can shake off on your heels."
Of all lessons, that one I never learned and I hope I never do. My heart daily grows new foliage, always adding people, picking up new heartaches like a wool coat collects cockleburs and beggar's-lice seeds. It gets fuller and fuller as I walk slow as a sloth, carrying all the pain Pun and Frank and so many others tried to walk from. Especially the pain of the lost forest. Sometimes there is no leaving, no looking westward for another promised land. We have to nail our shoes to the kitchen floor and unload the burden of our heart. We have to set to the task of repairing the damage done by and to us.”
― Janisse Ray, quote from Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

About the author

Janisse Ray
Born place: in The United States
Born date February 2, 1962
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