I’m noticing there are things, once entrenched in my memory, that seem to have faded in the years I’ve been away from the Deep South. (In case you don’t know the boundaries of the Deep South, let’s establish that now. They extend from south Georgia to South Carolina or somewhere just inside the NC line and westward to Louisiana. The panhandle of Florida can be included to some extent but the peninsula of Florida is definitely NOT Deep South to me. Even wikipedia agrees with my definition of the Deep South.)
OK, now that we’ve firmly established what the Deep South is (and is not) I can continue. This region is, in and of itself, quite a unique corner of our great United States, and they definitely have their own mannerisms and way of life down here. I guess each region does, really. But this is my special region and most of what occurs here is commonplace to me. I was raised on its charm and taught its ways, but during my years traveling around the US most of what is normal here was lost on me.
Here are a few things I’ve had refreshers on since living back in the Deep South.
- People shoot things here. For Fun. And it’s normal.
Case in point: a real estate lady was showing us around a while back and commented that we were “in a good neighborhood” because she could put out her real estate signs without them getting shot full of holes. Seriously? That’s the qualification for a ‘good neighborhood’ ~ one where no one levels a shotgun at your signs and uses them for target practice.
- Ribbons and bows
OK … this one I had completely forgotten was a true Deep South thing until Heather mentioned something on her blog, but it’s so true. All girls ~ from birth straight through to sorority age and older ~ wear ribbons and bows in their hair, especially when pulled into a pony tail.
- Mason Jars aren’t strictly used for canning!
To be a true Southerner one must also be comfortable drinking from Mason Jars. The beverage of choice is typically syrupy sweet tea – another staple in these parts – but you might occasionally find Coke or some other beverage in there. (Oh yeah … mason jars can also be used as spitoons for those who chew or dip tobacco. Definitely one of the less attractive uses for the Mason Jar.)
- High beams are necessary
In Nashville I rarely used my high beams at night. Typically all streets were well lit and there were always plenty of on-coming cars. So, high beams were not warranted. Not so in the Deep South! It’s “country dark” down here. Long, long stretches of no street lights and you only pass the occasional car or log truck. So, high beams are most definitely needed to avoid the other night visitors to our streets: deer, armadillo, possum, etc. The only time you might not opt for high beams is on a bright night with a full moon. Then you can drive strictly by the light of the moon and stars.
- Oh yeah … the stars
Speaking of the stars ~ they are still there! Can you believe it? For years in N’ville I would see a glimmer in the sky at night and you could make out the stars fairly well, but down here they take over the night sky. Bright and gleaming orbs in the sky that even on a bad night can be seen quite well. Thankyouverymuch!
- Passing is allowed and expected
OK, back to the road rules here. You are allowed, nay expected, to pass slower moving vehicles here. It’s all about catching, overtaking, and then triumphing over the vehicle in front of you. Most roads are single lanes of opposing traffic and I was routinely being passed. Even if I was doing 15 over the speed limit and approaching a curve, cars — usually very large pickup trucks — would come barreling past me and the driver would be looking at me like, “Dufus, don’t you know how to drive?” Hello??!?!? I’m already speeding, dude.
- Country music isn’t just music, it’s an ANTHEM!
Even after living in Music City for 14 years, I had forgotten that what is coming out of Nashville isn’t just music — it’s truly an ANTHEM! Most of the folks from the Deep South embody the songs that others think are just lyrics providing paychecks to artists in Nashvegas. From “She’s Country” to “Chicken Fried” never were truer words spoken. I live in the town that Billy Currington hails from and they, like many others, do sell turnip greens from the back of pick up trucks and yes, they eat pork rinds, you’d need directions to find the interstate, and there is most definitely a old country store in nearly every little town.
- Monster Truck aren’t Dead ~ they just moved South of the Mason Dixon Line!
My sister is visiting me and she’s helping me to notice just how comfortable I’ve become with the ways of my homeland once again. Yesterday in traffic she rubbernecked at a vehicle that I didn’t give a second thought to. The jacked up pick up that passed us on the road was so high off the ground I could have easily driven underneath it in my Altima.
- Dirt Roads
Yeah, I know, dirt roads are everywhere, but here they feel like home. Lots of wildlife, funky combos of trailers, old houses, and even some modern houses all sharing the dusty, bumpy beauty of a dirt road. I used to hate them because in middle GA they are comprised of red clay that gets onto and into EVERYTHING. Here they are mostly dusty so it’s easier to deal with.
Best of all, add a little water and the road becomes a redneck dream spot that they can bury those monster trucks in!
Speaking of redneck dream … it must be an unspoken rule that everyone here in the Deep South must own (and proudly wear) at least one piece of Camo. It can be clothing, hats, car accessories, shoes, anything really. Mostly it seems to be split evenly between Mossy Oak and Real Tree. Even girls wear it ~ and I’m not talking about the dressed up pretty pink camo. They wear the same stuff as the boys!
Well, those are my Top 10 Things I Forgot about the Deep South. I’m sure I’ll remember some more as time passes. What can you add to the list??