I am from the Deep South…the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay, old downtown Mobile square and grandma and grandpa’s homey little house. From Sunbeam bread and Little Debbie Cakes, cold Coca Cola, fig preserves, shelling peas and fresh cow’s milk. I’m from black ridey horsies and Sunday drives. I’m from old pickup trucks and ladies who didn’t know how to drive.
I am from the upstairs house with a bird’s eye view, and another with a ghostly tale that’s been told more than a time or two…A cottage row in Cottage Hill…From tossing to and fro at the water’s edge, to a little country store, doodle bugs, wild roses, blackberry vines and bird’s eggs in a nest in the chinaberry tree…I am from Spanish moss, azaleas, sandy beaches, honeysuckle vines, old timey camellia and stretching corn fields.
I’m from old smoke houses with dirt floors, made out of logs. I’m from a time and place that will never be the same. I am from big family reunions... Aunt Pearl, Aunt Hallie... Rainey's, Parker's and Young's. I’m from the city, the countryside, farms and little shanties. From sweet aunties to kissing cousins, and laughing til I cried. From little tea parties and Christmas with family and think about it all now and then.
I am from self-learners and persistence, working hard and making do and people who trust in the good Lord. From the Wampus Cat, The Sandman, and buried gold. From quilting, sewing and keeping house. From Sunday dinners and taking naps. I’m from the old school, I know what it’s all about. I am from old time preachin’ and gospel singin’. Where people knew how to sing, to say Amen, to shake hands and rattle the windows with hell, fire and brimstone. I’m from Amazing Grace and Rock of Ages and 'Neath the Old Olive Trees.
I’m from the Stars Falling, the heart of Dixie, the Mississippi mud, fried catfish and hushpuppies. I’m from raking leaves to run through and roasting hotdogs and watching with amazement the woods and trees full of fireflies. From the mystery and suspense of family secrets…I’m from singin', playin' the piano, writing songs and teaching. I’m from a storyteller, lullabies from my Scotch Irish grandpa and signs of the moon from my Creek Indian grandmother.
I’m from southern gospel tradition, the old white wooden church-house that has been torn down. I’m from the cinder block house where we had VBS, cookies, koolaid, my first kiss, wedding cake, baby showers and temporary church. I’m from a time when men were men and women were women and children played outside 'til dusk.
I am from grassy hillsides, pecan groves, gurgling creeks and bare dirt yards. From a swinging gate with a weight tied on, wash tubs to bathe in, cold springs to chill milk jugs and rubbing boards to scrub work clothes. I’m from sprinkling bottles, rolling up clothes to chill and iron. From long skirts, brogan boots and black felt Stetson hats. I’m from doll clothes made on an old treadle machine. I’m from an old trunk full of faint memories from my mother’s childhood and fragrant lavender wisterias shaped with grandpa’s loving hands.
I’m from magnolias, moonlight and twinkling ripples on a sunlit pond. And I’m from good times and hard times and love all around.
All of this to say...There was a time when all of this didn't seem very important. But I realized one day, that this is who I am! It defined my personality. It brought me to where I am today. Mrs. Honeysuckle aka Lil Biddy---is an eccentric. She is still learning though. Learning to be who she really is! Because after years of trying to undo all of her upbringing, she realized it wasn't that bad after all. And those of you who feel the same, I'm sure have the same doubts! No, it isn't bad! It is the true nectar! There may be other influences that try and change us, but we all soon realize, we can't really be changed. And that is a good thing!
Photo: Tezcuco, an Antebellum Cottage in New Orleans