Born and bred a Southerner, I am most delighted to claim that heritage as my birthright. Warm spring days bring the greening of dogwoods and wisteria. The heady scent of jasmine and gardenias waft about on the soft breezes, and the flowers in full bloom awaken something in me that makes my soul sing. How I love the South in spring time.
And when the fall arrives with cooler temperatures, it brings just a hint of relief from the heat. The leaves turn loose and fall, covering the ground with a thick blanket for the coming winter. We embrace the gold, red, and orange leaves as they cover the land.
Even Old Man Winter doesn’t frighten us much here in the South, except when he comes with a vengeance as he did last year. I admit I was somewhat intimidated last winter and wore my long johns many a night. Most years though, he’s easy and we can get along with him very nicely in our sweaters or light jackets.
Ah, but did I mention summer?
I hate southern summers—detest, abhor, loathe them. You get the idea. When that first early mosquito pops me, a raging force begins and builds in me until the first cool breeze of fall relieves it. Buzzard-sized mosquitoes fly the Pine Grove skies and suck most of our blood out before June is finished. Then the yellow flies join the troops. We’ve had a super abundance of wasps this summer, too, hiding under the rails of the deck, under the gym set, lurking in the fig tree, and beside the water pump. I’m practically afraid to step out the door. They’ve stung me thrice—ouch! Worst of all though is the lowly gnat. These tiny, seemingly innocuous insects fly into my ears and eyes and torment me like nothing else. Dante said it best when he wrote those stinging insects into the levels of his Italian Hell.
I love many things about summer though—ripe red tomatoes, peas, beans, squash, and the scrumptious watermelon. If I must suffer through the misery of summer to enjoy such bounty, then so be it. I’ve managed to survive many summers so far, and I hope to see a few more. Nonetheless, let me mention that the air conditioner is my favorite invention of all time.
Aside from the garden’s bounty, my favorite Southern quality is our hospitality and friendliness. When I walk into the post office or Wal-mart, I enjoy being greeted by name. Everybody knows me and I know them. Yes, the fact that I taught for 34 years probably has something to do with that. I probably taught most of them, but nonetheless, I enjoy the greetings and the few minutes we spend catching up. I like to meet their children, and to hear about their successes. I assume that it’s normal for such friendliness in a small town.
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