Country and Back, and other Such Things

I am proudly from the south, Virginia specifically and don’t ya’ll Yankees say it itn’t the south-it is! Right and proper!  As I was sayin’…I am from the south and I have the cast iron skillet, deviled egg tray, and string of pearls to prove it.  There are so many things I love about being southern, one of many things is that precious liquid gold; that amber colored, sweet, cold, refreshing, drink of the gods-sweet tea.  After sweet tea it all lumps together in second place as one big joy of the south.  Though there is something to be said for snaps(otherwise known as green beans) and new potatoes and crispy, but juicy fried chicken. Mm, mmm, mmmmmm.

I love the language and the way of living in the south, I even love the summer time; though I have yet to comprehend why I have spent my entire life in the south and every summer think “oh, lordamighty I might just keel over and die if there isn’t a breeze soon”.  Even with the hot, sticky, humid summer, there are wonderful parts of summer, like the sound of frogs at night; and I would never know the pleasure of bare feet on cool grass on a summer evening, or the feel of a summer breeze with cool spots like natural springs in a lake.  There are things like blazing hot days and sweet cool nights where neighbors gather together outside (cuz its toi dang hot inside) and eat watermelon and ice cream.  I wish I could share the images that go with these memories, things like little children, boy and girl alike, lined up in a row on the porch stripped down to nothing but shorts with gigantic slices of watermelon and sticky juice lines running all down their bellies, country skies full of stars so dense you can see the milky way, or watching children catch June bugs and store them in Crisco cans where they await their turn to be harnessed to a string. (this provides hours of entertainment for the children as the June bugs  fly in circles, but caused many a crippled bug.) While these joys are fairly universal southern style joys they are especially true of the country.

The country is where the city isn’t! It is rolling hills, creeks, and big trees.  It is where life slows down a bit and with it your mind and your pulse.  It is also where people work hard and know the value of fellowship and family.  One of my favorite poems is by Robert Frost, it is called “A Time to Talk” , I encourage you to click the link and take a minute to read it. (I omitted the full poem for copyrights sake). This poem says it well though.

Life is changing and the south is changing with it, even the country.  People move away, new people move in, farms stop running, generations die away, it is just life and life brings change.  Change can be good, but sometimes it is good to remember and to take note of the life gone by.  With your help I’d like to do that, a little at least.  Often we think of the questions we want to ask, the stories we want to hear, etc. after a loved one is gone and it is too late.  But together we can remember and record those memories. I encourage you to ask people to tell you their story and listen, really listen.  It will be time well spent.

I believe that everyone has a story and everyone’s story is worth hearing and everyone needs their story told in some form.  Do you have stories of a time gone by?  I’d love to hear them.  One thing I’d love help with is remembering the expressions that pass away.  Things like “I’ll give you country and back” which means you’re in a mess of trouble or “I ain’t seen you for a month of Sundees” i.e. a very long time.  One of my favorites is simple “he’s a good man”.  This one sentence said it all, it was just understood that that man was a hard worker, cared for his family, went to church, looked out for his neighbors, gave a helping hand, was polite, and just plain nice.  When I heard someone say that, it made me stop and I felt respect well up in my chest.  That one sentence told me great truths and meant this was a man to be trusted. It was a powerful sentence.  Another short sentence that my grandmother always said before I went anywhere was “now, you do right”.  It is a short way of saying “you do as I’ve raised you to do.  Be polite, mind your manners, do me proud, be courteous, be a lady (or gentleman), tell the truth, obey, just be respectful”.  When that phrase was uttered I knew what that meant and I knew what it meant if I didn’t “do right”.

So, I’m just a girl raised in the south (G.R.I.T.S.) remembering those halcyon days of summertime, the sweet smell of grass, the glistening of dew in the morning, the hale and hearty smell of the soil, and the sounds of the country slowly becoming whispers, nothing more than a dim memory dancing on the breeze. I’m a southern girl asking you to listen and remember and pass it on. Stories are meant to be told.

-Please feel free to share your memories and your story.

Side Note: To hear stories from all walks of life I encourage you to check out the Story Corps.  It is a non-profit organization who works to preserve people’s stories.  I am not affiliated with Story Corps in any way, but admit if I had my perfect, pie in the sky, dream job it might be for Story Corps, since the role of Indiana Jones is already taken.

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One thought on “Country and Back, and other Such Things

  1. Nancy Jamerson Weiland says:

    Couldn’t have said it better. Funny, on the way to work this morning Pop and I were talking about summer country memories. I was saying how rewarding it is to go out to the field and gather berries, veggies, etc. then bring them home to cook and put on the table for supper. I can remember learning how to snap, snaps as a very little girl. Every year when I get fresh beans, I gather up my old white enamel pan trimmed in red and head for the porch to snap them beans. I can’t to that without my mind going back to my childhood. I’m glad you had the chance to grow up and experience gardens, harvest, canning, and all that it means to grow up in the South and in the country. I’m sorry so many of today’s youth and future generations will not have that chance.

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