When I arrived home, there was an Amazon.com box on my doorstep. I didn’t remember ordering anything, so I was especially curious to discover what had arrived. It was a gift from my dear friend Cedric, with this note attached:
“Hi dear – I picked up a copy of this book while at home and LOVED it. Before you read it though, make a list of what being Southern is to you! Happy New Year! xoxoxoxox, Cedric”
- My South is a blanket. A blanket of the senses that wraps itself around me and lets me know that everything is gonna be all right.
- It’s ordering tea in a restaurant and hearing, “Sweet tea, hon?”
- It’s watching fireflies twinkle on a warm summer night, one glow fading to velvety darkness before the next magically appears.
- It’s inhaling the subtle scent of honeysuckle, sniffing deeper and deeper and deeper to attempt to capture every last bit of the aroma.
- It’s the Moravian Love Feast on Christmas Eve, sharing warm buns and sweet coffee with neighbors I’ve known for years.
- It’s the propensity of strangers to share a sincere hello, a ‘how do you do?’ or simply a smile.
- It’s knowing everyone at church service. Or at least knowing someone who knows them.
- It’s crispy fried chicken after church on Sunday, accompanied by steaming biscuits dripping with real butter.
- It’s referring to houses not by their street address, but by the lineage of owners.
- It’s grits. With butter and salt for breakfast, baked with cheese for lunch, and stirred with shrimp for dinner.
- It’s the chunks of rock salt that confetti the patio after making homemade peach ice cream.
- It’s the energy of gospel singing and the thunder of hand clapping.
- It’s pink azaleas and white dogwoods.
- It’s wondering why weeping willows are sad.
- It’s neighbors bringing endless covered dishes, masking taped names on the bottom of the Pyrex, when someone passes.
- It’s knowing that neighbors are more than just neighbors; they’re family.