BY LISA S.T. DOSS
Who is she? Where did she go to school, and who are her kin? A flurry of questions invited by my prospective in-laws fell flat when they learned I was an outsider born to Yankee people and raised mere miles below the Mason-Dixon line! From grandparents and parents, cousins and close friends, the phrase rang out of “bring her by.”
It’s not true, though, that cowboy boots burn crossing into northern states.
A repairman through a family recommendation sought my address, not through a physical street and house number; instead, he inquired to the surname of nearby families. Question after question, I did not know even one name, who lived in houses 50 years ago or relatives of current neighbors. There are moments a transplant knows they are out of their element. It’s more than just living in a close-knit community over decades. Southern living includes a dynamic repertoire of family history and genealogy. To be married to a southern man requires his wife to know an extensive list of family members and ancestors dating back several generations. Better believe more than one person will ask of his and your relations and respond in variations to “bless your heart!”
How could I know minimalizing the laundry pile would cause tension among family members? It was New Year’s Day. Rather than directly telling me, a chain of events went through an ancestral line of women to my husband. Through my act, I washed down the drain every friendship and ounce of good fortune and health for the year.
I’ve learned a lot since then. Never say “thank you” for a gift of plants, whether purchased or from a backyard garden; otherwise, they are bound to die, and remember to make a cross on your windshield when intersecting a black cat!
Boots Were Made for Walking
Cowboy boots have a distinct rhythmic pattern of three sounds, whether heard on concrete, tile, wooden flooring or boards. Not a footwear choice for everyone; however, the excess room surrounding the digits allows the foot cushioning in the stride and flex for easy walking.
Donning boots, a woman can do all the things she loves, whether it’s four-wheeling to dancing, arriving to dinner or group gatherings. The deep lined creases tell a story of walking through grassy fields, or the miles traveling to meet family, friends and work colleagues. Not long after I married my southern gentleman, I slipped into my first pair of blue Durangos. They truly are a treasure of comfortable walking!
The Hen Club
Tim McGraw said it well, “Ain’t nothing in the whole, wide world like a southern girl!” Ask a question, and there is no hesitancy in receiving a polite, colorful expression! It’s usual to hear, “I love you” and “God bless you” after an hour-long conversation. And, don’t worry; you will be hugged upon departing! The most remarkable aspect of southern relationships is the feeling of belonging. Once befriended, the friendship links you as sisters and opens the door to an extension of family. Even though you may not be blood, southerners claim outsiders as kin, too!
At the age of 10, my daughter claims being southern isn’t necessarily a place or a being, but a connection. A friendly acknowledgment as strangers wave from their cars and friends greet through bone-crackin’ hugs. It is words like “sir” and “ma’am” and “I declare,” which is fun to say! And, “y’all” means everyone, and not just you! While her term for “country living” relates to back dirt roads and waving the American flag; it’s also a feeling of a sweet home!