What makes the South, the SOUTH? Is it just a matter of geographical location? A matter of which side of the Mason Dixon upon which you stand?
I would argue that it’s much more than that – and I have indeed argued many times with my husband that the state of Florida is NOT part of the SOUTH.
My husband was born and raised here in Florida – has lived here all his life – where as my family has called just about every state south of Virginia and east of Arkansas home at one point or another.
My point is: I am well versed in the SOUTH. And I have to say, I just don’t “feel” it in Florida.
To me, the SOUTH is front porch swings and conversations over tea so sweet that bees mistake it for honey. It’s the scent of magnolias wafting in on a sultry breeze that ever so slightly rustles the hydrangea bushes. It’s hearing the melancholy refrain of religious hymns echoing through the open windows of an old country church. It’s progressive dinners on New Year’s Eve, homemade ice cream parties during the sweltering summer heat and Christmas caroling in snow flurries in the hopes of being offered hot cocoa and cookies.
My husband experienced none of those things growing up. Neither did he ever go cane-pole fishing in the spring, strawberry picking in the summer or go on hayrides in the fall. His youth was void of dinner-on-the-grounds at church and skit-night at summer camp.
And let’s not forget catching fireflies in a mason jar to be used as a nightlight by the pallet your grandmother makes up for you to sleep on right next to her bed.
These are all precious memories of mine from growing up in the SOUTH. My husband’s memories basically consist of going to the beach … going to the beach … and – oh yeah – going to the beach.
Now I like the beach just as much as the next guy; I’m just saying that when it comes to Southern culture, the state of Florida is not well-versed. At least not in my experience. Most of the neighbors in my community are from somewhere else – mostly northern transplants who have come here to retire.
And this northern transplant culture mixed in with Florida life is what my husband grew up around. My husband had never even heard of biscuits and gravy or Tennessee Walking Horses until he met me.
So I’m pretty sure Florida is NOT part of the SOUTH. Geographically speaking, yes; but culturally speaking, no. And after all, it’s the southern culture that makes southern life oh so interesting.