I was so fortunate to be able to go and visit my family and friends in the last couple of weeks who live in Tennessee and Texas. Being able to see my beloved family members as well as dear friends was good for my soul. The only bad thing about it was I did not get to get around to see everyone due to time or distance, but I was able to spend such sweet time with the ones I did get to see.
I also loved to see all of the different plants which flourish in the south and not up here in the north. Crape Myrtles, Magnolia trees, and Nandinas. Pecan and Oak trees that stretched up to the sky. I was especially drawn to the kudzu that grew and overtook everything it touched.
I was reading an article in the magazine Cooking with Paula Deen last year where she had interviewed Ty Pennington, the host of Extreme Makeover. Ty Pennington is from the south and was quoted to have said, “Growing up in the south is like kudzu. You can’t ever get rid of it. It’s always going to be with you.”
I couldn’t agree more. For those of you who don’t know or have never seen kudzu, it is a vine. It is actually illegal to plant kudzu in many parts of the south, because it is fast growing, spreads easily, and can overtake anything in its path.
When I am in the south, just like kudzu, I am overtaken by the sounds of “Yes, Maam” and “No,Sir”. Women and men who put on their Sunday best to put only their best before the Lord. A place where people say, “Bless your heart” and mean it. It is a place where the humidity makes your skin feel soft and supple and wonderful. A place where the sound of cicadas at night lets you know it is summer. It is a place, in my opinion, still very entrenced with tradition and the past. I have realized too, that for me, the south is so much about honor.
After my grandmother died, one of her dear friends came several hours after the funeral to deliver to the family two chocolate meringue pies. They were still warm. That to me is the epitome of the south. She didn’t make a trip to the store to buy the pies. She went right home and went to work on making homemade pie crust and those chocolate pies from stratch. She could have bought pies. We would still have had two pies after the funeral. However, the sight of her walking up the driveway with those two handmade pies brought tears to my eyes. What is the difference? The difference is about time and how you honor one another. She showed her love for my grandmother and our family by giving of her time to make those pies. It’s just different.
Now, I am not dissolusioned enough to think the south is perfect, and the north is imperfect. I have appreciation for both at this point in my life. There is something about the south though. The south is like kudzu. It can overtake your soul, and I am so grateful to God to have been born and raised in it. Even though the branches of my family tree have grown out and have taken each of us in different directions, my roots are still deeply planted in the south.