13 June 2006

The Good Stuff

So part of a comment (the one by Sarah, a.k.a. the Orangina Angel) on my Deprivation post got me thinking. It’s the part about “in defense of my native state”.

I forget, you know, that people actually are born here and like it. (Which is sorta like, really stupid of me, considering I’m married to one. (I will be SO happy when this baby is born and gets done with the whole breast feeding bit and I can have my brain back. In like, 3 to 5 years.))

Anyway, I got to thinking. I don’t hate EVERYTHING about life in Exile. There are some things that aren’t so bad. And some things I actually like.

Here they are in no particular order:

Spring. The South has the best springs of any place I’ve ever lived. Hands down. No contest. For one thing, it lasts a long time. Early to mid March things start budding out. It starts to warm up, but not too much. Days can be warmish on occasion, but nights are cool and comfortable right up until the end of May (they’re actually not too bad right now and it’s the middle of June). You can have your windows open for the better part of three months so you can listen to the peepers and birds and stuff.

And I’ve truly, truly never seen so many flowering trees in my life.

I mean, yeah, OK, other places I’ve lived have had some of the ones you see here. Crabapples in New England. Plum trees in Wyoming. Whatever those red things were in California. But south of the M-DL, they have EVERYTHING. Plum, cherry, apple, pear, dogwood. I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere that dogwood grow like they do here.

And, of course, nowhere but in The South will you find magnolia trees.

I thought I knew what a magnolia tree was. I didn’t. A magnolia “tree” in New England is a bush. It has very pretty, very large white and purple flowers in the spring. That’s what I thought a magnolia tree was.

Wrong. Magnolia trees are TREES, in the proper sense of the word. You can climb the suckers. And technically they must be evergreens of some kind – only with fat green leaves like a rhododendron that are all glossy and smooth. And they have pure white flowers as big as my head. Unbelievable.

Honeysuckle. Before I went into Exile, I always thought honeysuckle was something that some Nice Smell Scientist came up with, patented and put into bottles of body wash and bars of soap. I had no idea that it was a real thing that grows wild and makes the woods smell so good your mouth waters. Amazing stuff. I can’t wait to have a house so I can plant some and sit next to it and just breathe.

The Food. OK, I’ll never get used to macaroni and cheese being listed as a vegetable on restaurant menus, but whatever. And yeah, so most native-to-The-South food is all drowning in bacon grease and sugar and butter. So what. There’s just something satisfying about it. Broccoli casserole. Sweet potato casserole. Grits. And my all-time, absolute favorite: biscuits and gravy. Somebody stop me.

The Traffic. OK, I don’t actually like the traffic, and they desperately need some form of real public transportation here, but this one definitely falls under Things That Are Not So Bad. Some days I can go so far as to find it amusing.

Let’s just start out by saying I learned to drive in New England, so I’m used to Massachusetts drivers. People who would rather cut you off than breathe. People who wouldn’t let you in if you paid them. People who wouldn’t let their own mother in unless she paid them. (We have special terms for such folk north of the Merrimack, but that’s another story altogether.)

In contrast, 99% of the locals around here will wave to thank you for letting them merge in front of you. Wave. To thank you. It’s unreal.

Now granted, the majority can’t change lanes at all unless you give them four car lengths and a written invitation and a good proportion don’t know what a turn signal is for (you sort of have to gauge their proximity to the lane line and the level of frantic checking of the side view mirror to know that they want in). But it’s worth the hassle for the wave. I’ve been exiled here for three years and it still makes me laugh.

Y’all. Let’s face it: The South would not be The South without "y’all". And much as it still horrifies the bejeezus out of me when it pops out my mouth before I can stop it, it’s dang ol’ useful. And its advantages over its Northern cousin, "you guys", are admittedly numerous:

  • You don’t think about it when you live there and use it every day, but “you guys” can be construed as kinda sexist. Y’all doesn’t have this problem.
  • Y’all is only one syllable. (Erm, usually.)
  • Y’all can easily be used as a possessive: y’all’s. It rolls cleanly off the tongue unlike the nearly unmanageable mouthful - not to mention bizarre sounding – “you guys’s”, which more often than not comes out as [you-guys-is].
  • Y’all can even become a collective possessive: “all y’all’s”. It still rolls cleanly off the tongue and at the same time manages to be comprehensible. Neither can really be said about the “you guys” equivalent. I mean, yes, you can say “all you guys’s”, but good grief, as if “you guys’s” isn’t already hard enough to pronounce, let’s stick another syllable in there? Plus, you’ve got to sit and think about it for a good 5 seconds to figure it out (eg. Is that all you guy’s car? Huh?).

So there you have it. Stuff that ain't so bad. I'm sure there are other things as well (but for now, that's all I'm admitting to).


Queen K said...

I have to admit that those sound like VERY good things to me - I've heard that the spring is intoxicating down there. I'll have to come visit you in the spring sometime. Plant some of those flowering trees in your new yard this fall so I can get the full effect when I'm there ;)

I actually use "y'all" myself because it makes more sense and sounds cute. And I have to admit that certain Southern accents are just adorable.

There are alot of damn good bands that came out of the south as well: The Indigo Girls (who have a song about spring in the south), REM, The Dixie Chicks. And who doesn't love Dolly Parton just because she's so HER?

I think you are just stuck in a creepy suburb and that's never good, no matter WHAT part of the country you're in!!

Sarah said...

My daddy used to call me "Magnolia Peach Blossom my Dear" (pronounced dee-yah)

In fact, he still does on occasion.

I used to hate the south, esp. Tennessee. I didn't like the accents, the culture (or what I perceived as a distinct lack), the relentless bible thumping, whacking and overall whomping.

It took moving to another country to appreciate home. I spent a year (and later, another 6 months) with a population with no word for "please". The closest they come is "ole kiltti", which translates best as "be nice".
At the dinner table, if you want milk, you say "Maitoa!" in a rather flat and angry sounding tone.
I enjoyed coming home and having random people speak to me in the line at the grocery store, eating fresh vegetables (you can't find so many in Scandinavia), and feeling comfortable in my own skin again.

I am soooo rambling. But I can do that. We ramble in the south. And amble, and mosey (over yonder).

PS- My New York relatives say "yous guys" It seems to be a versatile version.

Bethanie said...

Sarah - I hear ya about it taking going away to appreciate where you come from. That's about where I'm at, I guess. :-)

K - forgot about the bands! You're right, those guys all rock and Dolly is great!