Here we are for a year in the land of:
- the best biscuits in the world
- blackeye peas
- pimiento cheese sandwiches with potato chips squished in
- peanuts in your Coke bottle
- slow talking
- story-telling as conversation
- chatty salesclerks. . .
- y’all is the non-ambiguous second person plural
- all soft drinks are called coke
- if you order tea in a restaurant, you get sweet tea automatically, unless you specify “unsweet tea” (“Yankee tea,” I’ve heard it called)
- dogs belong outside
- barbecue is what you put on a bun, not what you do on a grill in the back yard
- pepper sauce is a keep-on-the-table condiment (“pepper vinegar” to some of y’all), that lasts forever because you just keep adding vinegar
- even towns that are no more than post office and a few homes are overlooked by a giant First Baptist
- the prairies with their windowpane road pattern is a land far far away–here the ground bulges into mountains where ancient paths of least resistance have grown into roads, though some are still only half-grown
Help me, you Southern friends. What am I forgetting?
This week was the family goodbye supper [evening meal] for my cousin. The menu on my aunt’s kitchen island included field peas (blackeye peas’ colors condensed into one), cornbread with crispy crust and tender insides because it was baked in cast iron skillet, turnip greens with the option of the aforementioned pepper sauce, and wild turkey thanks to one of the hunters in the family. Goodbye dinner? Way to make a fellow want to say hello instead of goodbye.
This is not a foreign land for me. I’ve just been away for a while. I grew up only 5 hours away, in the rolling landscape that’s the piedmont –foot of the mountains–of where we are now.
As I sit in my rocking chair on the front porch writing to you, Bob’s familiar voice is calling–old bobwhite, that is. I haven’t heard him in a long time. He must be calling to the towhee who is insisting that he “drINK your teeEEA.”
Tea. Yes. Sweet tea. In the fridge . . .