Phoebe's ancestors migrated and set up tiny secluded home steads deep within the Okefenokee Swamp and Suwannee River basin in Georgia and North Florida. Her people came from England--many were runaway indentured servants from the colony General Oglethorpe brought to Georgia. For over two hundred years her ancestors existed as a secluded tribe of swamp people. They were the purest Anglo-Saxon stock in America, and their speech,undiluted by contact with modern America for over two hundred years, was Chaucer's; Elizabethan. The swamp settlers were wild, wary, witty, fiercely independent and shrewd. They hunted and trapped every wild creature from deer, bear and wild boar to feed and clothe themselves. They fished, grew their own food and herbs, spun their own cotton, tanned leather for shoes, and carved canoes to navigate the swamp. They didn't hold with government and laws that poached on independence and pride. Excursions to the outside world were few and only to sell alligator hides and trade that cash for sugar, flour, salt,kerosene and perhaps a bolt of sturdy denim or sewing needles.
Isolated deep within the Okefenokee, two-hundred years of progress, wars, and the Great Depression passed them by until 1942, when Roosevelt, gearing up for war and needing wood from the massive swamp forests of cypress and pine, forced the people out.
The people didn't go far, only to the saw mills at the edge of the swamp and when the saw mills closed, they went to work in the paper mills; when the paper mills along the coasts of Florida and Georgia 'dragged up', they migrated into mill towns. And here, for the first time, the former swamp women came into their own. They put away their spinning wheels, their quilt-making, their cast-iron soap-making pots and went to work in cotton mills spinning thread and filling bobbins. Years went by. Then cotton mills across the South began to close and the people migrated once again. Living as 'outlanders' had acclimated them to 'Ameriky' and most had lost much of the Elizabethan dialect, but the rhythm of the language hummed on, as did their elemental code of independence and moral rightness. If anything, six generations of living as outlanders had sharpened their intelligence, hardened their pride and increased their independent spirit. Yet,one thing never changed--when practical choice allows the privilege, the descendants of those early swamp settlers gravitate to land and water.
Which is why Phoebe Hawley, an out-of-work-mill girl, six generations removed from the Okefenokee Swamp, and on a mission to find her family a home, aims her old truck South. She finds exactly the right place in the tiny fishing village of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where a half-dozen great and small rivers and canals flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Phoebe recognizes G. G. Morgan's kissing lips, but is more impressed with the calluses on his hands--a working man's hands. Moreover, she is instantly enamored of G. G. Morgan's land, long before she's enamored of the man himself.