People sometimes ask me if I am a southerner? Well, I don’t think I speak like a true southerner, but in many ways, I have come to appreciate my southern roots of the last 30+ years. As time passes, I become more embedded in the ways of the south.
Something I most value is the etiquette in the culture – Yes, Ma’am and No, Sir. Children raised here are taught at a young age that yes and no are not complete answers and must be attached to a “thank you”, at the very least.
We were fortunate to have our 15-year old grandson live with us this summer. While working at the SC Yacht Club Sailing program, he met a lovely girl – not too surprising. Without effort, she won us over with her smile and a politeness only found in southern traditions. The underlying benefit to these traits is a respectful attitude towards others, especially towards anyone who is older than they. At an early age parents tend to include their family in entertaining their friends, so the children learn without effort how to present idyllic southern hospitality.
An important element to homes in the Southern lifestyle is a porch. They can be one-story or two, large or small, wrap around or privately tucked away. Porch design was taken quite seriously in by-gone years. Prevailing winds and sun exposure were of primary importance, since being outdoors was essential for cooling off before air conditioning. “Gone with the Wind” and other books and movies incorporated and romanticized their significance in the gracious lifestyle.
Then as today, the bigger homes often had a two-story porch, as the upstairs ones were often used as sleeping porches. Touring a home in Charleston on a recent visit, we were told that the mistress’s bed was taken outside at the beginning of the warm weather and would be brought back in if there was a potential storm, until the temperatures dropped comfortably. Sounds like a lot of effort. The children’s sleeping quarters were often on the third floor, making them very susceptible to the heat. Outdoor sleeping spaces for children was even more common.
Southern timing can also be a bit frustrating, as time doesn’t have the same significance as it does in other areas of the country. The tempo is slower here and once learned and accepted, likely offers a more healthful way of living.
It is still fun to sit on a porch and sip sweet tea or lemonade on a warm day. It is also quite nice to hear someone say, “My pleasure, Ma’am” after a thank you during check out at the grocery.
While I will never be able to be as charming or polite as my real southern friends, I am grateful that so much has influenced me. I hope my progress towards these lovely goals continues over the next 30. Have a great day, Y’all.