I also loved to see all of the different plants which flourish in the south and not up here in the north. Crape Myrtles, Magnolia trees, and Nandinas. Pecan and Oak trees that stretched up to the sky. I was especially drawn to the kudzu that grew and overtook everything it touched.
I was reading an article in the magazine Cooking with Paula Deen last year where she had interviewed Ty Pennington, the host of Extreme Makeover. Ty Pennington is from the south and was quoted to have said, "Growing up in the south is like kudzu. You can't ever get rid of it. It's always going to be with you."
When I am in the south, just like kudzu, I am overtaken by the sounds of "Yes, Maam" and "No,Sir". Women and men who put on their Sunday best to put only their best before the Lord. A place where people say, "Bless your heart" and mean it. It is a place where the humidity makes your skin feel soft and supple and wonderful. A place where the sound of cicadas at night lets you know it is summer. It is a place, in my opinion, still very entrenced with tradition and the past. I have realized too, that for me, the south is so much about honor.
After my grandmother died, one of her dear friends came several hours after the funeral to deliver to the family two chocolate meringue pies. They were still warm. That to me is the epitome of the south. She didn't make a trip to the store to buy the pies. She went right home and went to work on making homemade pie crust and those chocolate pies from stratch. She could have bought pies. We would still have had two pies after the funeral. However, the sight of her walking up the driveway with those two handmade pies brought tears to my eyes. What is the difference? The difference is about time and how you honor one another. She showed her love for my grandmother and our family by giving of her time to make those pies. It's just different.
Now, I am not dissolusioned enough to think the south is perfect, and the north is imperfect. I have appreciation for both at this point in my life. There is something about the south though. The south is like kudzu. It can overtake your soul, and I am so grateful to God to have been born and raised in it. Even though the branches of my family tree have grown out and have taken each of us in different directions, my roots are still deeply planted in the south.
"Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches." Ezekial 17:6, KJV