Truly this title should be “Why I Love the Rural South”. We spent most of the Independence Day holiday weekend in rural Arkansas. Part of it was spent at Greers Ferry Lake that is just down the road from my hometown of Joy, Arkansas. Spending an extended weekend near my roots brought back some reminders of the many things I do treasure about my Southern roots. We had planned to meet our good friends at the lake on Saturday but had to rearrange as Jonathan and I journeyed to Tunica, MS on Friday. We had the honor of attending a very important retirement celebration for a dear friend. Since we were delayed our friends said, “Come to our house instead. We’ll swim and feed you and don’t worry about bringing a thing.” That is what I love most about the South – hospitality Southern style. Warm and inviting people. Still, we had the opportunity to meet up with those friends again on Sunday at Sugarloaf Marina. A double does of great friends and hospitality.
I love driving down the old country road to my parent’s house and seeing freshly baled hay. I’m partial to the small square bales and now you see mostly the big round ones. They all make me sneeze the same! I love seeing the pristine white fences, the broken fences and the fences that need a new coat of paint as they frame an open field. I love a lone giant oak tree in the middle of a field and a pond where cows are cooling their feet and taking a sip. I love the honeysuckle and wild blackberries that grow near the creek bed and the bright pink crape myrtles in the yards. I love to see the lightning bugs at sundown and hearing the crickets sing. Sundown always brings a vision of my little brother Kenny running home barefoot and covered with dirt from head to toe. My grandmother would say, “He is kenkard”. I don’t know how you spell that or if it is even a really word (the Thesaurus says no) but she said it! I love memories of Kenny and softball fields and 4-H days where we cleaned cemeteries, had adopted grandmothers and pie suppers.
I love hearing yes ma’am and no ma’am. When I was a 4-H agent in Phoenix, Arizona we went to a National 4-H event with 4-H youth from across the country. One agent from Arizona said to me, “I am so impressed with those southern kids. They speak so eloquently and are so polished. And they are so well mannered. What is this yes ma’am and no ma’am thing about?” I grinned and responded that is yes ma’am and no ma’am unless told differently. I brimmed with pride. Hearing yes ma’am and no ma’am all weekend brought back memories of classy teachers and church potlucks. It brought back memories of my mom’s dad, grandpa Ausburn, who was quite staunch about those ma’ams and sirs. It reminded me once again that I am proud to be an American, and I am proud to be a Southern gal. I am proud to be a “girl raised in the South” (GRITS)!
NOTE: Pictures are of our family eating our last container of Yarnell’s Woo Pig Chewy. We’ve never had a family dinner where Yarnell’s wasn’t there. The next picture is not very good of the faces, but it gives a glimpse of the beauty of Greers Ferry Lake at the end of a day of boating. Finally, a picture of my sister, brother and me with our dogs Spot & Sammy and Charlie the cat. Captures the “real” us.
Posted from Higden and Searcy, AR
You have a blessed day and as always, looking forward to your next article.