Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bonds of the South

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?


  1. Beautiful post, Kathy. The South is very special! I'll tweet it. Also, it would be great if you could add the social media bar to your posts so all a reader has to do to FB or Tweet is click on the icon. I think you'll find it in Settings. One time I had to reload my template to get it on my blog.

  2. Wow...what a great post, Kathy! You've truly captured the essence--the heartbeat of the southland. All I need now is a blanket spread under a live oak, a tall glass of iced tea, and of course, a romance novel. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Patrica,
    We have been trying to do this, but I finally succeeded! Thanks!

  4. To me, the south is and always will be HOME. I've lived in several southern states, but there's always been the feeling of home in every one of them. I lived overseas for four years and got my share of jokes about grits and saying "y'all." But I also taught a lot of them how to fry chicken and even explained to one perplexed woman what black-eyed peas were (she'd bought a can of government issue veggies in the commisary with B-Eye Peas marked on the lid and thought they must be Birds Eye green peas). One of my favorite TV programs is Designing Women because it so vividly portrays everything you wrote about today.

    Marilyn - born and raised in the great state of North Carolina

    Verification word is "ansortof" as in born and raised in the great state of North Carolina and sort of an Alabamian since I've lived here longer than anywhere else ~grin~

  5. Why is it that people who didn't grow up in the South don't realize that "y'all" is plural and never singular?

    Just thought I'd throw that out there. It's one of my pet peeves! LOL

    Melanie, who grew up in L.A.--Lower Alabama. And who was named after Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. Can you get much more Southern than that?

  6. Although I was born in the North, the South has been my home since I was a young girl of eight-going-on-nine. When I think of the South, I think of lush courtyards, beautiful flowers, and hospitality. My friendships mean the world to me, especially now that the shadows of life are slowly lengthening and my mind seeks to hold memories and special moments in an immortal embrace.

    Excellent post, Kathy!

  7. Southern girls, rock! :)

    Thanks for the tweets and compliments, Patricia!

    Ah, Cindy! A blanket, tea and a romance novel... my three favorites too. Thanks for stopping by. ;)

    Jean, you did a great job updating the blog. Thanks!

    Loved the show Designing Women, Marilyn. Thanks for mentioning that one. Dixie Carter has always been one of my favorite southern gals on t.v.

    Melanie Wilkes? Truly? Well now we have much more in common, Melanie. My youngest is named after Vivian Leigh and my oldest after Scarlet's beaus. :D

    Crystal, you've hit the nail on the head. Memories are what sustain us through hard times. Southern hospitality is a comfort unlike any other. Thank you, M'am and Sir, are a part of this culture. We've been raised to respect our elders, revere authority, but cleave to our freedoms. Southern is an immortal way of life. Funny isn't it, how True Blood focuses on the south. Being southern is a way unto itself.

    As John Denver sang, "Thank God I'm a country boy. Yeehaw!"

  8. I was not born in the South, but this is where my heart is. I agree Kathy, roots run deep here. It has taken me over 19 years to plant some.

    To me the South embodies:
    U-Unflagging spirit

    I am truly happy here and this is the longest place I've ever lived in my life. Granted, I've found some negative things and people here, but the positive far outweighs anything that I may dislike.

    Lovely Post Kathy!

  9. I love being a Southern lady and all the strength that implies!

    Just tonight I fried some pies. You just don't get much more Southern than that.

  10. I am a tenth generation Southerner and I am glad. I would choose to be nothing else.

  11. Oh Mary! You spelled south in a fantastic way! Like you, this is the only place I've lived the longest. I like having roots that have time to dig down deep. A good foundation gives anyone the strength to weather any storm.

    Stephanie, you are the epitomy of a true southern woman!

    Cheryl, your family ties run very deep in the south. ;)