Saturday, May 14, 2011

There's A Lesson To Be Learned Here

I have friends visiting from NY, just for the weekend. In anticipation of their arrival, I had worked on a post, and scheduled it to go up while they were here. Well, Blogger had other plans. Let's just say, it ate my post. Argh. In the slim chance it is resurrected, I'll hold off re-writing it - it was pretty time consuming anyway, and I just don't have the time this weekend.

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 clich├ęs (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...


Mary Ellen said...

My favorite line...

"~~In my South we use knives, forks and spoons, but we let cornbread and biscuits finish the job."

Oh yeah!!!!!

My grandmother on my mom's side was from the south and I can attest to everything written there. It's funny because my mom has passed on many of the southern traditions, and those are the memories I cherish most while growing up. We had a weird combination of southern cooking and culture along with the stereotypical Italian family. Crazy...but great eating!

Great post! I soooo want to move to where you are, but the drive to White Sox park would be a bit much. ;-)

Mary Ellen said...

Oh...and one of the memories of my southern grandma was when she was close to her last days on earth and she told my mom (in her southern drawl), "Now honey child (minus the d sound on the end), you make sure when they bury me that put on my petticoat. I don't want to go before the Lord without wearin' my petticoat!" I smile every time I think of her.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Oh, Mary Ellen, what a lovely story abt your grandmother. And what a GREAT combo with the Southern and Italian. That must have made for some mighty yummy meals!

It's funny - just last night, when we were out to dinner with our friends, we were talking abt genealogy. :-) (We were laughing abt me being able to be in the DAR and UDCA. Whenever I think of the DAR, I think of Emily Gilmore from "The Gilmore Girls." Teehee!)

LOL abt the drive to the White Sox. Hey, we have the Yankees' Single A team here, the Charleston Riverdogs. Won't that work?!? ;-)

Glad you enjoyed this post.

Mary Ellen said...

Hey Rev. Amy--

Your comments are closed in your top post about the space shuttle.

I was going to tell you that my husband and son saw one of the lift-offs once in Florida when my husband and son were enrolled in "Space Camp". My son was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and it's something that they will never forget.

I still have my son's astronaut suit (a cotton blue jumpsuit) which was an exact replica of what the astronauts wore in training.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks, ME - I hit the right button, I don't know WTH it didn't work. I fixed it, though.

That is SO COOL abt your son and husband!! Wow! How fortunate your son was able to experience that. The times are changing now - who knows if programs like that will last?

I wish I could see one of the liftoffs in person...Well, gosh - I guess there is only one more I COULD see. Makes me sad.