Lately, I’ve been made more aware of the intrinsic bonds of friendship and how women relate to one another in the south. Surrounded by architectural beauty and the charm of an ageless rhythm still presiding in local mannerisms and speech, women in the south are limbs on an ancient tree sheltering each other from the ups and downs of this world, just like the old Oaks at Auburn.
For a southern woman, no heartache is too deep. A southern woman’s arms are far-reaching, able to douse the fiercest flame threatening the frailest branch. Time does not disrupt southern friendship. Death cannot deal the ultimate blow. Southern women love forever, unless scorned. Movies such as: Steel Magnolias, Practical Magic, Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, Hope Floats, Sweet Home Alabama, and even Terms of Endearment, exemplify a true southern woman’s spirit.
As a former Army brat and wife, I’ve lived a nomadic lifestyle, staying in one place long enough to make close friendships only to have to say goodbye. What I’ve learned in all my travels and experiences is that the world is a very small place. People you think to never see again are the friends you’ll meet somewhere down the road, in places you cannot fathom.
Life is a banquet and friends are there with you to share the feast. Some friendships are meaty, some sweet as a sugary dessert. Others can be bitter, tart, tasteless, even abhorrent, leaving you with an iron grip on the toilet.
True friends are like a recipe you can’t live without. One example is the tried and true southerner’s macaroni and cheese dish that Jean shared this week. Cheryl discussed the ‘fan’tastical ways Tiger and Tide supporters are joining together for a single cause, saving 130 year old Oaks, landmarks at Auburn University. True friendships hold a combination of these traits. Friends never tire of each other and will do whatever it takes to see the other one happy.
There is never jealousy in true friendship. Envy, perhaps, but never jealousy. After all, a friend should always wish a true friend the success he/she has so diligently worked toward. For example: in 2010, when Alabama won the BCS Championship, Cheryl and I were happy for our friends, Jean and Stephanie. Likewise, the same thing happened between us this year as Auburn won the 2011 BCS Championship. Though perhaps a small comparison in the large scheme of things, southerners understand the importance of sportsmanship and friendship, and perhaps that bond has made our relationship stronger.
The word 'south' comes from Old English suth, Middle Low German sut, Old High German sund, and Old Icelandic sudhr, probably before 1300, according to the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, The Origins of American English Words.
In The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, south is the direction of the earth's rotation, the direction to the right of sunrise, the cardinal point on a mariner's compass, 180 degrees clockwise from north. In the United States, south implies the states lying south of the Pennsylvania and the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, including those that fought for the Confederacy against the Union in the Civil War.
Southern Living Magazine, Southern Comfort, Southern Hospitality, are just a few things most people recognize about the south. Here’s something more, a personal take on the word south. Are you ready to play?
S ─ Sunshine, seaside resorts, sipping tea or mint juleps, sharing, and simple ways.
O ─ Outside parties, open bars, okra, oranges, and Orange Beach.
U ─ Under the Tulip Tree, umbrellas, undercover heroes, and Upside-down Cake.
T ─ Tulip Trees, tree-lined drives, cool glasses of tea, antique treasures, and trust.
H ─Healing, helpers, Antebellum Homes, history, Heart of Dixie, and humble.
I'm ever grateful for the friends that have been my mariner's compass, especially those who share their time with me beneathe the Tulip Tree.
What does the word s-o-u-t-h and the friendships you enjoy mean to you?