The term South is defined as the region of the United States lying south of the Mason-Dixon line. That is just a weensy bit vague, so how about this one? The region of the United States including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia, and eastern Texas.
Now that we know where the South is, I'd like to expound a bit on why I live here. For one, I was born and raised in the South. North Carolina to be exact. For four years, from 1976 to 1980, I ventured outside the South because of my husband's job. We ventured FAR from the South to Frankfurt, Germany, where we were unusual not only because we were Americans, but because we were Americans with a southern accent. I remember being asked to speak just so folks could listen to my accent. Depending on how nicely they asked, and whether they were snickering when they asked, I'd comply. Of course in London, I did the same thing -- asked questions of shopkeepers and folks on the street just to hear the different British accents.
When we left Germany, we were given the choice to return to any place in the US where my husband's agency had a branch office. This included Washington, DC, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas, along with a number of towns with satellite offices. They also offered us another four-year overseas stint in Panama. Where did we choose? Huntsville, Alabama. We'd lived here for a year prior to our overseas move and felt it was a great place to live and raise a family. We've turned down several chances to move to other places because we love it here, though we are pondering relocating somewhere else when we retire. The places we've considered, however, are still in the South.
So why, other than my husband's job, do I live in the South? In no particular order...
1. Southern hospitality - an undefinable quality, but you know it when you've experienced it
2. Fried anything
3. Sweet tea
4. Sweet potato pie
5. Black-eyed peas (remind me to tell my black-eyed pea story)
6. Country ham
7. Gravy -- red-eye and sawmill
9. Quaint phrases
10. Peaches and peach cobbler
12. The Florida panhandle beaches
13. Magnolias and dogwoods
17. Fried green tomatoes (I felt these deserve their own entry cause they're so good)
18. Corn on the cob
19. Sunday lunch with the family
21. Shagging at Myrtle Beach -in case you're a Yankee reading this, that's a dance ;-)
22. Fried pies (again deserving of its own entry)
23. Yard sales and flea markets
24. The Grand Ole Opry
25. The Smoky Mountains
26. Kudzu (well, not really, but it IS a definitive part of the South)
27. The Blue Ridge Parkway
28. Charleston and Savannah
29. That religion called college football and/or basketball
30. Front porches with swings and rocking chairs
31. Drives through the country on Sunday afternoon (not so common nowadays with the current price of gasoline
32. Jeff Foxworthy
34. Alabama, Bo Bice and Hank Williams
35. Biltmore Estate
36. Southern belles
37. Rhett Butler
I asked my sister if she had any thoughts on the subject and she contributed five really GREAT reasons.
1. I don't have to explain my accent
2. People don't think I'm stupid because of my accent
3. I don't have to shovel snow (not true in all parts, but it's been a looooong time since I've seen snow too)
4. I can wear the same clothes year-round (again, not true in all parts. She's on the Georgia coast, I'm in north Alabama and I definitely have summer and winter wardrobes)
5. Young children (and old children) call me "Miss Bev" even though I'm beyond the age of being a "Miss"
I'd hoped I could come up with 50 good reasons, and I suppose if I listed all the fried things individually, I could stretch it out.
What makes the South special to you? Add to my list and let's see if we can get it to 50 or beyond.
Oh... I forgot. The black-eyed pea story.
I mentioned that we lived in Frankfurt, Germany for four years. We lived in an apartment complex filled with other Americans who were employed by various governmental agencies. Most were Yankees but a few of us Southerners had squeaked in.
My upstairs neighbor was a good Catholic woman from Erie, Pennsylvania. One day she appeared at my front door with an open tin can. "What do I do with these?" she asked as she shoved the can itoward me. Inside the can were black-eyed peas.
"Just put them in a pot and warm them up," I told her. "Then eat them."
"Oh," she replied. "I really wasn't sure what to do with them."
Not sure what to do with black-eyed peas? Seemed a little odd to me. So I pursued the subject a bit further.
Army commissaries often have food in plain silver cans with no label. The only marking is black stenciling on the top of the can. This particular can had the following "code" on the top: B-Eye Peas. Simple enough, I thought. Well... not to a Yankee.
"I thought I was buying Bird's Eye Peas," she explained, not thinking that Bird's Eye is a brand name and not a type of pea.
"Nope, you bought black-eyed peas. You might want to throw a little ham in there to season them up. That'll make them taste even better."
And that is the black-eyed pea story. I guess it was a lot funnier if you were there. And you're from the south.
And in a completely unrelated matter...
Four of the Playfriends and a Friend of the Playground attended an all-day workshop on August 26. It was offered through the Southern Magic chapter of RWA and featured Debra Dixon (of GMC fame) speaking on GMC and The Hero's Journey. I'd heard the two hour condensed version of this in Dallas two years ago. The all-day version is awesome. And so is Debra Dixon. She sat at our table during lunch and we just gabbed with her. How cool is that? And now I have my GMC book autographed too.
Now for a completely related matter...
Award-winning author Roxanne St. Claire will be guest blogging with us next Tuesday, September 12. Be sure to visit us that day. We'll be having a contest with a winner picked from those who comment on her blog. I don't know about you, but it thrills me to death to have her play in the sandbox with us!