A Portrait of Southern Connectivity

A Portrait of Southern Connectivity

Rebecca Hudson’s affinity for her Florence, Alabama life
Words by Louisa Martin

I met Rebecca Hudson, her husband Blake, and their dog Goose in January of this year. Their brick corner home in Florence, Alabama houses a vegetable garden, a kiln in a backyard shed, and dozens of other hidden treasures (my personal favorite being a hallway covered ceiling to floor with collected art). Upon meeting Becca, I was particularly struck by her grounded sense of self, interesting personal style, and long list of hobbies—but, more on that later.

While at Berry, she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, which required a fair amount of art credits. “I kept on taking ceramics classes,” she said. After graduation, she continued to live in Rome and worked in product design and development while participating in sporadic commissions and pop-ups for her work on the side. Once she and Blake were married, they headed to Florence and moved into a house a couple streets over from their current residence. When I asked her how she felt about moving to a small town, she remembered feeling excited, saying “No one talked about a small town the way they talked about Florence.”

“Everyone cares about the things going on in their town.” Becca specifically notes the ways she is able to enjoy the fruits of her neighbor’s labor in a direct way, whether it’s friend’s restaurant or coffee shop or selling her new art. For Blake’s birthday, their friend—who was about to open a restaurant—came to their house and taught them how to make homemade pasta in their kitchen. “It was special because we were able to celebrate Blake for his birthday while also celebrate our friend’s talent. It’s a network that feels like a celebration.”

I find it necessary to share Becca’s experience has not been perfect, lest we confuse the charm of a small town to a life without hardship (we connected over our tendency to let idealizations color our reality). “It was intimidating getting ‘in' when it seems like everyone knows each other,” she said. Even after living in Florence for four years, Becca says her experience is constantly evolving, and the town is continually surprising her.

“I think about if I were living in Atlanta, we wouldn't have flexibility to do the different things we do—we wouldn't have a backyard or kiln.” How they landed a house with a kiln is a miracle within itself. “Blake and I went on a walk and saw a house for sale in a neighborhood I really wanted to live in.” After asking their realtor friend about the property, she and Blake were helping move in UNA students down the street a couple days later when the realtor texted them about touring the house. “We just walked down the street and toured it.” The closed up carport in the backyard fit their wooden art bench (a wedding present) and they were later connected to a woman in town selling a brand new kiln. Becca comments on how she has felt undeserving of the kindness the “intricate connective atmosphere” has shown her.

When asked about the future of her ceramics, Becca says a store front one day sounds dreamy. “I would love to have some sort of place where people could sell their art or food.” But for the time being, her goal is continue to create and sell things she loves and enjoy time with Blake and Goose, working part-time as an art teacher at a school in town, always having multiple cups of coffee or tea laying around, and enjoying all kinds of breakfast food (“the best meal”). Her favorite part of the day is coffee and a walks with Blake around their neighborhood, “it’s when I see people,” she said.