Editor's Letter

Raising a Southern Woman…

With the help of some very impressive role models

Photo: Margaret Houston

Rose Miller DiBenedetto was born on November 25, 2015, during a full moon. I know it was a full moon because minutes after my wife Jenny’s water broke—at close to midnight—as we anxiously waited on a friend to come stay with our son, I stepped outside on the back porch, took a deep breath, and looked skyward.

Truth is, I was woefully unprepared for a girl. I’m the youngest of four boys. A few weeks before my mother gave birth to me, my brothers let her know that if I was a girl, they would decamp to the woodshed for the foreseeable future. As for my mom, she doesn’t do bows.

Rose has a variety of nicknames (Ro Ro, Rose Bud), but the most fitting is Spunky Brewster, a moniker that does justice to her sass and her penchant for orchestrating her own outfits. (Always striped socks. Often a wool cap. And usually a bag of sorts, preferably her spiked dinosaur backpack.) Our family has no shortage of strong women to guide her, including Jenny, of course. But if I could create the dream team of
mentors, I’d look no further than the women in the pages of this issue.

I’d love for her to meet Daliyah Arana, a six-year-old from Georgia who has such an insatiable love of words that she has already read close to three thousand books. Speaking of books, I can’t wait for Rose to be old enough to read Lee Smith’s beautiful stories that do justice to the strength of Appalachian women. It would be wonderful if she could sit at a table at Dooky Chase’s with Leah Chase to understand that no matter where you start, you can change the world one meal at a time. And I’m sure Darla Moore could teach her a thing or two about never backing down and also about giving back.

There are plenty of great role models who contribute to Garden & Gun too. Rose could learn a lot from writer Allison Glock’s ability to truly listen and her drive to tell the stories of those who aren’t given a voice. I’d make sure she spent time in a boat with our fearless photo editor, Margaret Houston (and backing a trailer down a ramp with G&G’s former production director, Suzanne Flohr). And I know style director Haskell Harris could teach her about embracing her own unique tastes, dinosaur backpack included.

No doubt, the South is in so many ways built upon the backs of strong women. I can’t wait to see Rose grow up to be one of them.