Wednesday, June 10, 2015

That's Just the Way It Is Around Here

I had lunch with a true southern lady on Friday. I've known her for years and she embodies all the warmth and charm that the South is known for.  We made the short drive to a nearby small town to eat at a little café and it did not disappoint.  We walked in and, like a couple of pinballs, we pinged from table to table as we recognized one face after another.  We weaved our way through all the checkered tablecloths back to our seats, speaking and hugging and catching up with people along our way.  Mothers of school friends, a math teacher from my high school, friends of my mother, old garden club pals, and ladies from the church.  I guess it's why they say lunch is an event here in the South.    

The night before that, I was invited to a friend's house for dinner.  Just a handful of girlfriends having a little girl time.  "No big deal.....just come casual," she said.  Yeah, no big deal if you don't like to eat like a queen.  Slow cooked marinara baked into lasagna, homemade dressing for a salad that could've been featured in a magazine, grilled bread, and made from scratch chocolate sauce poured from a Mason jar and drizzled over brownies and ice cream.  It was enough to make you want to slap your Mama as we like to say.  In the South, it's never, "Would you like dessert?", but, "How big of a piece do you want?"  There was a centerpiece of perennials arranged beautifully in a basket of moss on a perfectly set table.  There was also a whole lot of "Mmmmmmm" and a heaping pile of laughter and a big ol' bunch of just sitting and enjoying each other's company.  That's how you do a "no big deal" in the South. 

On Sunday, I went to a tea shower for my niece given by the ladies at the church where I grew up.  They'd fixed a delicious lunch for the family before the shower was to begin.  It was the typical, mouthwatering, Southern fare......a platter of honey baked ham, squash dressing, green beans, hot tomato grits, corn casserole, bread, pound cake, fresh fruit, and a blueberry trifle.  There again......where's your Mama, so we can slap her!  There was a lot preparation that went into all of that.  Women, who got up earlier than usual, and baked and cooked and scurried around before church to make the day nice for someone else.  Sweet, southern ladies, who know their way around a kitchen and how to do things up right.  That's just the way it's done down here in the South.

I guess the succession of all of those events in one weekend reminded me of how warm and connected we are here.  A place where everybody knows everybody or either, "that name sounds familiar".  I've never lived anywhere else, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I think it's a pretty great place to be.            

It's hard to go anywhere without recognizing faces....or finding someone to commiserate with about the heat and humidity....or being asked about how your garden is going this year...or someone wanting one of your recipes. 

In the South, saying grace comes as natural as breathing.   Waitresses carry the sweet tea pitcher around and have to go to the back to get the unsweet.  Your English teacher remembers your name 29 years and 3,000 students later.  There's always someone dropping by to share a "Wal-Mart sack" full of fresh vegetables....they just had more than they could eat.  Meringue stands 4 inches above the pie filling.  Someone's always asking how your Mama's doing.   

Here, you might be referred to as" John Borden's boy" or "Helen Carpenter's granddaughter" as much as you're called by your own name. You're likely to have the door held for you and be asked, "How you doin', ma'am?"   You'll see red geraniums, American flags, rocking chairs, and porch swings.....and a lot of visiting going on.  Sometimes, around here you just don't have any particular place to be and that's ok.  Men like to talk about the latest rain.  Women like to talk about how the humidity messes with their hair.           
         
It's seeing your high school friends' mothers and asking how they're doing...."tell them to give me a call when they're home again".  It's a fish fry with the bream the boys caught and your grandmother's buttermilk hushpuppy recipe.  When the biscuits are ready, it's getting out the jar of fig preserves with "2012" scribbled across the Mason lid.  It's looking for names on the bottom of Corningware and Pyrex dishes to return them after you've been flat on your back.  It's being missed when you're not at church.        

Traffic's not really a problem in most places.  You may have to drive a while to get to a big city.  You'll likely hear a prayer come over the loud speaker at a Friday night game.  You'll get a thank you note for every little kindness.  We'll still wish you a "Merry Christmas" as offensive as it is.  We can tell you how to treat wasp stings, red bug bites, poison ivy, and a slew of other afflictions with the secrets our grandmas taught us.  We might even give you a cutting from our butterfly bush.  And if you ever fall on hard times, we'll always, always, always, "bless your heart".          

I guess, sometimes, we just need to stop and appreciate the good things that surround us.....no matter where we live.  Those wonderful things that we walk by each day or glance over with little notice.  In this crazy, crazy world that's getting crazier by the minute, it does the heart good to hone in on the love and graciousness and kindness of our surroundings.

There's a whole lot of good to see out there.

                               

              












8 comments:

  1. Excellent post of the hearts and minds in the south. Yes, there is nothing like civility and feeling a part of life amongst the people of your parish. Joni, your writing made me feel I was enjoying the fellowship and scrumptious food. Kathleen in Az

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    1. Amen, Kathleen. And I wish you could come enjoy a plate of good Southern cooking! You wouldn't be sorry :)

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  2. Love this post! It could have been written for the town I live in and grew up in too.

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    1. Thanks, April! I'm glad you can relate to all the sweetness of the South where you live. :)

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  3. Pulled me right in, all the way from Oregon! I love so much about the south and you named some of my favorite things! Thanks for doing such a wonderful job of inviting us into your corner of the world and into your life!

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    1. Thanks, Becky! I'm sure Oregon is a lovely place to be as well. I'm pretty sure it HAS to be cooler!!

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  4. This post just makes me smile. Thank you.

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