Days of old have gone with the wind and have been replaced with a refreshing breeze and a fresh face making the South proud. P. Allen Smith is the new face of the South–one that appeals across the nation. The man has good manners, excellent style, and impeccable taste. He is friendly, real, and puts an honest heart in everything he does.
On May 1 – 2, 2012, P. Allen Smith graciously hosted a gathering of 24 garden bloggers from across the country. While Allen did an excellent job sharing southern hospitality, some of the subtle strokes of southern hospitality may have been missed by the non-southerners in attendance. As such, I thought it might be interesting to share things we southerners take for granted, but may have been missed by others.
1) Southern homes have big trees planted out front for purposes of energy conservation. While on the surface it may look like we don’t know what we are doing by planting a hulking tree so close to the house, we, in fact, do.
2. No good southerner would be without a front porch. Seating out front is a must. Spinning tales in the coolness of the shady tree is a great way to pass the time in a southern home. And no-good southerners find themselves sleeping out there often.
4) Porch swings are not ornamental. They are meant to be used. Even though I shared with others the proper technique of porch swinging, I failed to get any takers. I actually heard someone mutter under their breath, “Doesn’t she know that swing is only for decoration?” And I do believe this same someone was one of the people who, earlier in the day, tried to eat a decorative petit four at Marlsgate Plantation. With grace only a southerner can exhibit, when I saw them bite into the decoration, then realizing their mistake, and then putting it back on the plate, I bit my tongue from saying, “So, what do y’all think he’s going to do now, melt your teeth marks off the petit four?” No doubt their faux pas was indeed heated out. Southerners aren’t wasteful.
3. Southern homes have foyers. This is a pause spot for a gentlemen caller to wait for his date. The small space keeps the beau in bounds so that when the young waif of a girl enters by descending the stairs to greet her caller, she won’t be missed. There is nothing worse than for the girl to make it half way down the stairs only to realize she must climb back up because her beau got engrossed in something other than her. Patiently she waits until the boy is in position to see her gracefully descend the stairs.
Since we were visiting the kitchen right before lunch, I assumed the food laid out on the kitchen counter were offerings so I wouldn’t, “Eat like a field hand.” Being polite, I grabbed a couple of taters, but they didn’t set well with me.
So what did I do during lunch? I ate like a field hand. It was all so good, I couldn’t help myself. And guess what? I did not get one single marriage proposal! So here is a side southern tip, pack a snack wherever you go.
6) After lunch, we toured the upstairs. While on the sleeping porch, I claimed my place for the mandatory afternoon southern nap. We all nap in the afternoon. It would appear I was the only one schooled in this etiquette, since I was the only one napping.
Sadly, someone took this unfortunate picture of me during nap time. Ain’t nothing sacred?
7) After a nice long nap, it’s customary to take a cool bath. In this case, the bath would be in Allen’s hot-looking tub, but Carolyn Binder beat me to it. As you can tell by the look on her face, she was in it for the long haul. I had to wait my turn, and waited, and waited….
Why, you ask? Because of Southern boys, of course! When I finished my bath, I looked out the window only to find Michael Nolan peeking at Carolyn and me through his lens. For shame! I confronted Michael about his behavior and all he had to say was, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
7) The next, and probably the nicest southern tradition, is a cool drink in the middle of the afternoon. To say it’s spiked would be sharing too many southern secrets. Kylee Baumle of Our Little Acre wrote a nice post about this drink, among other things during her time at Marlesgate Plantation.
Eight) When in the South, we take our time to smell the flowers. I caught this priceless moment of my friend Robin Horton with Urban Gardens seeing a Southern Magnolia for the very first time. When you see a Southern Magnolia flower, you must smell it right away, or at least that day, for it will be gone tomorrow. But don’t despair, after all, tomorrow is another day.
Here is a nice and formal disclosure I nicked from Michael Nolan, the Garden Rockstar:
DISCLOSURE: Attendees at Garden2Blog 2012 including myself received transportation, accommodations and meals during the event. Event sponsors provided samples and product giveaways at no cost or obligation. All opinions are my own.”
I agree with what Michael says. Here’s my version. He paid, I went. I told the truth…mostly.
But I won’t wait to be invited back…I can pay to go my ownself; it’ll be worth it.
Here a few post you might enjoy from others who attended Garden to Blog event 2012.
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Helen’s book, Gardening with Confidence–50 ways to add style for personal creativity is due out this fall.