December 20, 2011
Southern living from a Cali girl
I have lived in Tennessee for about four and a half years now. DH and I moved here in the peak of the California housing crisis. Things were waaaaay too expensive to rent unless you wanted to live in an area where houses looked for like fortified fortresses. You know the kind; iron bars covering the windows, motion lights on every corner, a vicious Rot/Pit-bull crossbreed running yard surveillance, and a moat lined with electrified, razor edged, barbed wire. Okay, so I wasn’t serious about the barbed wire. Well maybe a little.
In any event, unless we wanted to live in a less than desirable area we would be looking to pay about $1000 in rent, and in many cases more. This was no bueno for our modest Sacramento income, plus having a large dog was a handicap, so when DH’s job decided to move to the South we signed up!
Hello Tennessee! The Volunteer State!
Since living here I have found a new appreciation for colloquialisms. In a big way. My grandmother was from Oklahoma, and my mother raised in Georgia, so I was not totally shell-shocked upon moving to the South, but still… The last couple years I have come to love certain things about Tennessee and the South in general…
Food: Oh good GAWD the food! White beans, collard greens, turnip greens, grits, fried okra, Bar-B-Q, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, buttered biscuits, mashed potatoes you can stand a wooden ladle in, banana pudding, and gravy, gravy, gravy… It is heaven. I have also discovered Crisco is a necessity in every southern woman’s kitchen, corn bread is its own food group, and by GAWD if sweet tea is not how I normally take my tea!
Seasons: Holy crap there are seasons! If any of you have been to Northern California you will agree that there is not much in the way of seasons there. More so than Sothern Cali, but still bare minimums. Nor Cal is basically Summer and Winter with like 2 week breaks in-between the two. Winter is not bad, if you live in the valley or on the coast. Summer is generally horrible with regular 100 degree weather that ends in rolling blackouts across the state.
Tennessee has seasons! All four of them! I was amazed the first full year. Spring is full of fluorescent green grass, white, violet, and pink blossoms on trees, and hummingbirds. Summer gets sweltering in July and August when the heat index tips the scales and you wonder why in the hell you even bothered to shower that day. The nights make up for it with the lightning bugs and cicadas. Fall brings out the orange, pink, red, and bright orange leaves that, until this point had only seen in calendar photos, fill the rolling hills. Winter is milder than most places, but there is generally some snow. The perfect kind of snow; it falls, makes everything pretty and white, and then melts within a day. The only problem with snow in TN is people are less able to drive in the white stuff as they are when the roads are merely wet.
People: They are all really nice! A friend of mine (our husbands worked together) moved out here two years before us and she prepared me a little. When I pulled up to Tennessee I found that my neighbors DID openly talk to me, children ARE taught at an early age to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes ma’am,’ and I’ll be damned if people I do not know WAVE at me while I drive by! It was surreal for a bit.
And my favorite…Sayings: Oh LORD the sayings! Those subtle things that are different than what I grew up saying in good ole Cali. You do not have your picture taken, but made. You use a buggy at the grocery store not a shopping cart. Daffodils are Buttercups, ‘round yonder is actually a form of direction, and if you are so mad you could spit you might just be PIST! (Hard T there by the way)
Phrases, also part of sayings, brings me constant joy. I will leave you with a few I have learned over the years…
~~ “I would rather lay flat an’ pee straight up than… (enter activity)”
~~ “Well shit fire and save the matches!”
~~“I had to pee so bad I shot a stream a squirrel could climb!”
~~ “He/She was rode hard and put up wet!” (quite possibly my favorite. Had to ask for a translation the first time)