First impressions from a southerner, y’all

July 26, 2013 10:11 am

“Where’s your accent?”

That’s the first thing I hear after meeting people in La Grande. I’m inclined to tell people I threw it out the window when I crossed the Rockies, but I know it’s still lying dormant in my vocal chords, waiting for another drawl to bring it out.

I grew up in Houston, so, as I have told some, my accent is much less pronounced than my peers from beyond the metropolitan lights. Accents, in my experience, work like dimmer light switches with varying levels of intensity. 

When I’m around my grandmother, bless her heart, you’ll hear it. But in Oregon it will likely stay in hibernation — except for my excessive use of “y’all,” which is a completely viable contraction, you guys.

It has been more than three months since I left my southern comfort zone, trekked across this vast and beautiful country and landed in the Grande Ronde Valley. 

It has been more than three months since I have tasted that sugary goodness that is sweet tea and about as long since I have complained about the intolerable humidity that cripples southerners when summer arrives in April. Sure, it has been warm here in the valley, but at least I never feel the need to shower multiple times a day.

Almost as often as I have been asked about my lacking accent, I have been asked, “It’s pretty different here?” 

Honestly? No. 

If there is one thing my cross-country move has shown me it’s that rural America is rural America. Accents differ, landscapes vary, but people are the same — mostly good, I would say.

I have realized there’s a common misconception in the South that southern hospitality cannot be beat. La Grande gives the South a run for its money. I am endlessly impressed with the friendly faces and the beauty surrounding me. The Grande Ronde Valley’s landscapes are scenes from books, waiting to be opened and explored. 

I’m happy to be writing a chapter here, and I’m ready for adventure.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.