Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reasons Why I Live in the South

Since my last southern post was so popular, why not continue with the theme??? I'm on vacation til tomorrow so one of the other Playfriends is posting this on my behalf.

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
8. Grits
9. Quaint phrases
10. Peaches and peach cobbler
11. Pecans
12. The Florida panhandle beaches
13. Magnolias and dogwoods
14. Barbeque
15. Crawdads
16. Peanuts
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
20. Biscuits
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
33. Hot'lanta
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!


Smarty Pants said...

As a southern transplant, I guess I have a different perspective but -

- men trip over themselves to open the door for you

- bbq isn't a food or a ketchup based sauce, its an entire state of mind (this coming from someone who couldn't fathom what white and clear bbq sauces were or why anyone would order ribs DRY)

- weddings, babies and funerals are not simply occasions for close family and friends to dress up and go to church. everyone goes. every person you've ever met expects to attend said events. that's how 400 person weddings happen. can't exactly cram that into a Vegas wedding chapel...

- a car will actually let you merge here. i come from a place where you turn on your blinker and just go - they'll make room. here, they actually wave and let you over. crazy.

Angel said...

I'm biased on the BBQ thing--my husband owns a BBQ restaurant.

I think the thing I love most about living in Alabama is the scenery. Changing leaves, cool autumns, pumpkins. The hills that keep the land from being flat and add interest and mystery. Walks in the woods. Acres of cotton fields.

And I don't care what they say, Florida isn't part of the south. I know. I was born there and lived there until I was ten. My grandparents were appalled when I developed a Southern accent.

Problem Child said...

PARTS of FL are in the South--the rest of it has been taken over by Yankees and other non-southerners. :-)

I like long, sunny summers and the right to spend them indoors with the AC on...

Instigator said...

I'm a Yankee - despite having lived in Alabama for 20 years (and in Atlanta for a year before that). I was born in Fl - the part that isn't southern - and moved to Michigan when I was 1. I'm a Yankee. There's nothing I can do about that. But I do love living in the south!

BBQ - people up North just don't understand the pull of really good BBQ :-)

The changing seasons - yes up North I got well defined seasons but I also got -10 degree weather in the winter. I'll take 100 degree summers and AC over that any day.

The friendly people.

The accent - sometimes I have it and sometimes I don't but I always love to listen to someone who does.


Loribelle Hunt said...

BBQ definitely. I lived in Vegas for a year and it was a sad sad time lol. ;)

And the weather. In my part of the state we don't get much in the way of cold. I can't remember the last Christmas here I didn't wear shorts lol. I like the heat, so it's good for me.

The fresh produce and the fresh seafood. I grew up in Atlanta with big chain grocery stores and even bigger chain farmer's markets. But absolutely nothing beats the watermellon or tomatoes you can get at roadside stands down here for most of the year.


No one thinks it's weird that my name is Lori Belle. ;)

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, I'm commenting days after the fact, but I just found this post. And, I guess it's a relief in some ways, because I'm about to move to Northern Alabama after many years away from the South (never lived in AL before). I was born in Arkansas, lived in Louisiana, and then spent several years in Europe, DC, and now Hawaii.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. And reading about that winter wardrobe required in Huntsville has me all aflutter, ha! Nearly 3 years in Hawaii has made me loathe shoes, I can tell you. I can't imagine having to wear a jacket or a sweatshirt (I do wear those in Borders here -- it's a winter wonderland in there!). But, thanks to your post, I'm focusing on the good things about the South that I have missed. I'll get used to the extra clothes. :)

Huntsville sounds lovely, which is also a relief. My parents moved to Decatur last year after 20+ years in Europe. They love it.

Anonymous said...

You can pick and choose any one of these to complete your list of 50...


Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you " PITCH" them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is, ... as in: "Going to town, be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines, ... and when we're "in line," .... we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

In the South, y'all is singular, ... all y'all is plural.

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say,"Bless her heart" ... and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!
And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, ... bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y'all need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I ain't from the South, but I got here as fast as I could."

Bless your hearts, ... y'all have a blessed day.

Yo Mama