Hey, y’all!

golden porch









Here we are for a year in the land of:

  • grits
  • cornbread
  • 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. . . 

and where:

  • 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 . . .

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15 Comments on "Hey, y’all!"

  1. Granny in the Pew says:

    Enjoyed your post and it made me hungry for good Southern food. Lots of comfort in these meals. I think you’ve got it, that is Southern…

  2. Spencer Haygood says:

    Love it! We’re just down the road in Georgia! Enjoy your time there!

  3. adam burrell says:

    Pretty close to where John grew upin Chattanooga right

  4. chris hurst says:

    glad to have you and family on this side of the m/d..
    that is a beautiful valley. i don’t know about in that particular valley, but..
    folks around here take turns.
    today ole raleigh will go out in the back yard and shoot a couple of his guns..
    tomorrow will be john’s turn.. just to let raleigh and milton know that he’s got a couple too.
    then the next day will be my turn… knowing that all three can hear and that they are
    commenting to themselves that their’s are bigger and better than mine!
    just something we do around here!
    then sondra will go by williams and take some cucumber’s fresh from the garden
    and then jeanine will come around with some of their tomatoes.
    and the next day pamela will be delivering sweet corn and talking about how she had to
    pop the deer with her sling shot!!.
    just taking turns.
    something we do around here!

  5. Lisa says:

    Don’t forget the watermelon on the front porch (where you can spit the seeds off) and the home churned vanilla ice cream!

    • noel says:

      So right! In fact, as I read your comment, we’re sitting on the porch in the cool of the evening, eating watermelon. Seedless though, and you’re reminding me that eliminates lots of seed-spitting fun.

  6. Leslie says:

    Thanks for linking to me. :-) And welcome!

  7. Rhonda Lemmon says:

    Thank you so much for this, makes me very homesick! I grew up in the Bristol area. The only thing I can think to add is moonpies.

  8. Lisa says:

    Enjoyable post!
    In the land of your current dwelling, grits is a two syllable word: gree-uts :)
    And a translation of, “Ya’ll have fun now, ya hear?” could possibly be, “May your time together be blessed.” And on that note, may it be so with all of you :)

  9. Amy says:

    You did so well on your list! We live in Alabama, and I had to laugh as I read it. All of it is so familiar! Hope you enjoy your time spent in the hills of Tennessee. It is a beautiful place. I’d love to hear what it’s like for all of you as you adjust to this new season and place.


  10. Hello from North Carolina! We are glad to have you and your family here in the beautiful south. I might add that Kentucky Fried Chicken is another southern food (that I don’t really like! Ha-ha!). Texas Pete, which was first made in N.C. is yet another popular food down here (my sister puts it on just about anything).And if you are a true southern, you go barefoot through most of the winter.
    As a side note, my brother Gabriel knows Talitha and works at Children Desiring God.
    God Bless!

  11. And everyone waves to you! =) We have lived in Knoxville for about 20 years after moving from Detroit. It was a little unnerving, at first, encountering all the friendliness (the waving —> what do they want from me?…the chatty sales clerks —-> why do they want to know how I am?… the over-friendly waitress —> she’s just looking for a bigger tip). But then before I knew I acclimated & I was chatting and waving with the best of them. =)

  12. Valerie says:

    Oh Noel,

    This Virginian so enjoyed reading your blog. I especially enjoyed seeing the photo of your mother in Culpeper, Virginia, which is about 15 miles from me in the adjoining Rappahannock County. You may have been away from the south for so many years but I keenly recall your friendliness just a few years back when I was a guest in Minneapolis. I was determined to not say hi to you, as a consideration for the hundreds of people who must impose upon your time and life daily. Yet at that Desiring God Conference as I was coming out of the designated chapel area in the early morning our paths (almost literally) crossed and you were so friendly and inquired from where I hailed. I thought it so neat when you then relayed that you had cousins and family not far from me in Madison and Culpeper, Virginia! My husband and I are so looking forward to going back to Minneapolis in September for another conference. May God richly bless you. I always enjoy your blogs and photos. May the Lord continue to richly bless you and yours.

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