But then I started to think, maybe this is just the universe's way of saying a little shift in focus wouldn't be bad. A blessing in disguise, if you will. So I thought about something my cousin sent me recently by the acclaimed chef, Robert St. John, out of Mississippi, and a discussion a bunch of us were having over at my other home, No Quarter, about being Southern.
First to Chef St. John. A while back, he wrote a piece entitled, "My South," inspired by an insipid person who seemed to think the South had no fine dining establishments, well, ANYWHERE, much less Mississippi. Chef St. John took a bit of umbrage at that, and listed all of the things "My South" has. He has since come out with "My South II," some of which I will share with you here:
As far as Hollywood is concerned, the South is still one big hot and humid region full of stereotypes and clichés (they got the humidity part right). We are either Big-Daddy-sitting-on-the-front-porch-in-a-seersucker-suit, sweating and fanning while drinking mint juleps beside a scratching dog— or— the poor-barefooted-child-in-tattered-clothes, walking down a dusty-dirt road beside a scratching dog. There is no middle ground. Most of the time, we are either stupid or racist or both.
[...] The South of movies and TV, the Hollywood South, is not my South. [snip]
~~In my South little girls wear bows in their hair.
~~In my South banana pudding is its own food group.
~~In my South the back porches are screened and the front porches have rocking chairs and swings.
~~In my South the ham is as salty as the oysters.
~~In my South everyone waves.
~~In my South we use knives, forks and spoons, but we let cornbread and biscuits finish the job.
~~My South has tar-paper shacks but it also has tall-glass skyscrapers.
~~In my South people will put crabmeat on almost anything.
~~My South has tire swings hanging under live oak trees.
~~In my South grandmothers will put almost anything inside a mold filled with Jell-O.
~~In my South “cobbler” is a dessert, not a shoemaker.
~~In my South the only things that “squeal like a pig” are pigs.
~~In my South ice cream is made on the back porch instead of in a factory.
~~In my South grandmothers always have a homemade cake or pie on the counter.
~~My South has bottle trees.
~~In my South we give a firm handshake.
~~In my South “sopping” is an acquired skill and could be an Olympic sport.
~~My South is oleander and honeysuckle.
~~In my South we celebrate Easter a month-and-a-half early with a two-week long party called Mardi gras.
~~In my South fried chicken is a religion with its own denomination.
~~My South has sugar-sand beaches, pine forests, plains, hills, swamps and mountains.
~~In my South it’s OK to discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. As a matter of fact, it is required.
~~My South has shrimp boats and multi-colored sunrises.
~~In my South we move slowly because we can.
~~My South has covered dish suppers and cutting-edge fine dining restaurants.
~~In my South young boys still catch fireflies in washed out mayonnaise jars.
~~In my South 50% of the dinner conversation deals with someone’s genealogy. [snip]]
(Click here to read the rest, and read the first one, too. It's good!)
Yep, that's my South, too. Right now, I have the windows open, and the breeze is carrying in the smell of the ocean a few miles away, with a hint of the gardenias blooming down below the deck. My friends are out for a walk in this 77 degree weather (it isn't even 10:00am yet), enjoying the birds singing, the Spanish moss swaying, marsh grass smelling day.
That's my South. This is too:
So there is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes, having one's homework (as it were) being eaten by some nebulous entity is a good thing. Sometimes, it makes one just slow down a bit, and smell the gardenias. Sometimes, it is more important to just enjoy the day, the people, the weather, the South, than to deal with some political issue. That day is today.
One more tune for you to send you on your way today, whether you are lucky enough to live in the South, or not (!). We only have this one life in this incarnation, and sometimes we just need to Slow Down:
Have a great day, friends. And feel free to add to the list above, or start a new one for your part of the country. Take your time...