Monday, April 2, 2012

I Always Feel Southern In Spring

I Always Feel Southern In Spring
The South is often portrayed in the media as backwards, blonde-dumb and poor.    But just as no one knows England like an Englishman, or France like the French, one has to be a Southerner to understand the South.  And it’s a hard nut to crack, even for a native.  Growing up in a part of the country that was on the losing side of a civil war uniquely qualifies one for the perplexities of life.  Though a life long southerner myself, I was never quite able to join in the reverence for the “old south” as famously illustrated by another native daughter, Margaret Mitchell.  The almost biblical devotion to her novel, Gone With The Wind, passed me by.  I couldn’t manage to muster up a nostalgia for plantation life; my eye always drifted past the hoop skirts and ladies fair to the slave shacks and auction blocks.  My heart failed to swell with pride when I saw the confederate flag and, even today, I’m afraid I stand outside the majority of my fellow Southerners on a great many issues. 
But I always feel Southern in spring.
In springtime, the south wears a beauty that near breaks the heart.  It’s a beauty that seeps into the very corpuscles of one’s being from earliest childhood, flooding the soul again year after year from the moment the first wisteria blossom leaps free from the vine.   It’s in the very air that hangs heavy in the late afternoon sunlight, trapping the fragrance of hyacinths and honeysuckle so near to the earth that it sails through the windows each time one is opened a crack.
  The lemon-scented blooms that polkadot the magnolia tree, flowers as big as dinner plates hanging over an emerald green carpet of moss that blankets the floor of the garden.
  The front porch swings that sway back and forth under ceilings painted blue to ward off evil spirits. 
 The tinkling bells of the ice cream truck as it weaves its way through the neighbourhood streets, a sound that elicits pavlovian responses from both young and old as we dig in our pockets for change.
  The cool damp grass on bare feet. 
 The glass of iced tea sweating in the sun atop a stack of books by a wicker chair.
The gardenias.  The jasmine.
The dogwood.
The rose.
This intoxicating beauty that covers the southland in springtime stands in razor sharp contrast to the ugliness of much of our history and in doing so illustrates better than any textbook the contradictory way of the world.  To those of us Southerners rebellious enough to think for ourselves, this ever present dichotomy teaches us that life is never merely black or white.  Neither is it fair.  We learn that the world, though quite often unbearable in its cruelty and ignorance, can also be unspeakably gorgeous  - full of hope and nigh on dancing with beauty.  
Life in the south is unique and that uniqueness has produced some of the our country’s most transcendent writing - from Faulkner to O’Connor, Welty to Lee - authors unafraid to look their homeland dead in the eye in order to fully illuminate both the pain and the grace.
For all of its frailties and faults, this is the time of year when the South shows us the sweeter side of its nature.  This is the time when its highest aspirations are fulfilled to bursting with wedding dresses of beauty everywhere that I look.
Yes, I always feel Southern in Spring.

Painting by Jessica Hayllar


  1. Pamela your writing inspires me so much, it is so wonderful as is the mesmerizing image above!

    Please visit to enter the amazing Cross Bottle Giveaway!

    Art by Karena

  2. I lived in Mississippi for 36 years and "Up North" for 27 (Oregon was a Union State, after all). What I miss about the South is the history, the natural aspects, and the long daylight hours in winter. I'll always feel like a transplanted Southerner.

  3. Reading your words I am sitting on the porch swing under that blue painted ceiling, admiring the multitude of gorgeous blossoms and breathing in their intoxicating fragrances...sounds wonderful!

  4. You're right. There's no place like the South in the springtime. I grew up in Tennessee but have lived in Georgia for over thirty years. Georgia has Tennessee beat for beauty probably because of all the camellias, azaleas, and magnolias. Oh, and the wisteria. I had never seen it until moving here. Oh my! It's like clusters of grapes and smells like grand Kool-Aid.

  5. What a pure joy and pleasure to read your heartfelt descriptions of the place you called home. Your writing almost allows me to catch the fragrance you so eloquently describe! Wonderful Terry!
    Mary Anne ox

  6. So much to say Pamela.

    Firstly, I want to thank you for your very kind words about the loss of our dear Finn.

    Secondly your post reads like a poem - the first part - and I thank you for giving me such sensuous joy from reading your words.

    Thirdly I am reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett so I am very much in your 'South' in my mind at the moment - have you read it? I am sure you must have. I have ordered the film from LoveFilm as I have heard it is good too.

    Last of all the painting by Jessica Hayllar is gorgeous, I shall look her up.
    I have just popped indoors to have a quick coffee break - for days I have been clearing all the dead stuff from my garden - many barrel loads! I could not touch the garden for six months because of my illness, I am so much better now.
    So a big thank you for this post - I am off now to read some I may have missed.

  7. Great post, Pamela. I can smell the fragrances of spring in the passion of your words, while here I am about to light the wood stove and a light mist that's not quite sure if its snow or rain floats on the wind outside.

  8. You make it sound wonderful Pamela. I get a similar feeling though about my childhood in Lincolnshire, where there always seemed to be primroses and violets everywhere and the air would be full of their scent.

  9. 100% in agreement . April 5th, Augusta National, good weather and a mint julep by the bridge. Heaven .

  10. For a moment, my office walls of white faded...I could smell the jasmine and gardenias. Magic.

    Loved this.

  11. Pamela, this reads like poetry and makes me want to be Southern in the Spring as well.

  12. I love that I feel Southern in Spring with you...I remember last Spring and the Spring before that...your beautiful words always inspire me Pamela. :)xx

  13. spoke beautifully for many of us natives...i believe only harper lee may have spoken perfectly...blessings...laney

  14. Yes, spring is always so unbearably lovely here, and so fleeting . . . The wisteria is running rampant, and the mint is fresh and green and ready to add to the tea.

  15. what a beautiful post!

    My mother often spoke of the South in the same way!

    Just Beautiful!

  16. fine reflections transferred to the paper of the Internet diary. straight from the heart, for the adoration of ordinary/unusual days!
    I am greeting from Poland!

  17. I adore reading your posts Pamela, so refreshing. I adore the idea of Wisteria blossoms leaping from the vine. Just beautiful.

  18. So gracefully, you reconcile with the remnants of Civil War a northern transplant crusing down an expressway, I'm horrified by the occasional Confederate flag flying from the back of a pick-up truck.

  19. Such beautiful writing.
    It has to be from a southern writer.

  20. while i am reading this i began to wonder if you have a southern accent, in particular because of how much the british enjoy listening.
    happiness to you pamela-

  21. Dear Pamela

    You describe so beautifully the sights, sounds and scents of the current season. Thank you

  22. Ted and I are sending early birthday wishes to you and hope that you have a Blessed Easter too. x

  23. Happy southern spring!
    The south always seems so romantic and glorious --and you write about it so beautifully.
    Happy Easter to you and yours.

  24. I love the line "wedding dresses of beauty." I would love to visit the South in the spring. A time of true beauty!

  25. It's akin to being English and feeling it the most in Autumn Pamela...
    I had the privilege of living in Atlanta, Georgia for three years, and so understand the beauty of that part of the country in Spring, the azaleas, the dogwood, full of the promise of summer.

  26. Such evocative words to make your thoughts so clear! And my goodness, don't we love, as a species, to stereotype people based on where they live? I often wonder though, if it is that very stereotyping which forces the creative spirit to break free, as if it must fly against the current to be heard and valued, in a way which may not happen otherwise. And for that, the world gains the most creative thoughts.

    A thought provoking and absolutely beautiful post!


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