Please Excuse Our Progress…

We are updating a bit!

Thank you for your patience! In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for our blog posts in that cute little space over there > >>>>

Rest assured we will never ask your weight, height, shoe size or whether you tint your hair straight out of a bottle, or if you’ve neglected your charm school training. We will never ask your age, simply because you don’t look it anyway- still pretty as a picture and the very essence of health and vitality! We will never ask for or use your personal information- because really, that’s the height of being tacky. What we will ask for is that you will be on your best behavior and use your highest comportment skills- otherwise we will wonder ‘who your people are’ and worse – we might privately question the quality of your upbringing- so don’t go embarrassing your momma!

We love to hear your stories and hope you will continue with the highly witty comments; of course your high praise when warranted and… In return, we will try to maintain high quality postings and avoid things, such as the questionable use of double negatives, the horror of dangling participles and the inexcusable use of ending a sentence with a preposition. Still. Occasionally we do admit to mangling the King’s English when we deem it appropriate for emphasis.

Just know this- we are so thrilled you’re here! Thank you for stopping by, and you’re always welcome to stay awhile. Soon we will be back with more delicious recipes, a few hints and pinches and hopefully a few laughs as well!

Love y’all, Camellia

And a big P.S. We are posting fresh content regularly on Instagram! Hit that cute little button below and follow along if you’re the least bit curious!

Going Away Outfit…

2823124a-f856-4894-a1ac-30945ecce7b9.jpegWeddings have always been a big deal in the South, so you have to know Southern Mothers are reading everything they can get their hands on about the Royal Wedding…You see, we crown our daughters for everything known to man. It’s that royalty thing, I guess…

  • Weddings are supposed to be the one day of the year that a lady feels like Queen for a Day.
  • We hope the groom feels like he’s getting the deal of a lifetime.
  • The bride’s daddy hopes this fellow has at least a few irons in the fire and gainful employment to support his daughter in the style she deserves- Daddy’s gonna take it as a personal insult if he’s given permission to a man who turns out to be a deadbeat.
  • We hope the bride will swoon whenever she sees her groom- the perfect gentleman- okay, we also hope she’ll feel for lifetime, like Jane seeing Tarzan-or at the very least Buster Crabbe!
  • By the wedding day, the mother of the bride, hopefully will have satisfied herself, barring a criminal background check- that the young man has a sufficient pedigree to marry into the family. That his people go back at least three generations right here in Alabama! We must have a decent write up in the paper after all!

When the engagement is settled- the planning and partying begins….lest anyone think this is fun- let me disabuse you of that notion. A few days into the engagement – which should be a reasonable amount of time not years…(long engagements make daddy think the groom is shiftless, aimless or the groom doesn’t have honorable intentions)…and there’s the other reason, rarely stated- the longer this engagement goes on? The more the wedding is going to cost! Little bitty homemade bird seed bags for throwing turns into a flock of released doves, a small afternoon reception at the church turns into an all out champagne filled country club event… you get the picture.  At any rate- just a few days after the engagement…there are only two people still excited about this wedding – the mother of the bride and the bride! Ultimately, no one is excited except the Bride. Everybody has started worrying about the money…money, money, money…that’s all Daddy, the bridesmaids (who have issues as well) and the groom secretly worries about the money- ok, not so secret. How much is this wedding going to cost anyway? And how many parties did you say?AA0DBA26-F8C7-49A7-A577-6A23227EE508

There’s the formal engagement party- the registering for gifts, the formal teas, the sip and sees, the informal showers, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, the after rehearsal party and just when you’d think everyone has suffered enough- there’s the actual wedding, the reception and the honeymoon, by then everyone is sayin’ -‘I thought we’d never get that wedding over with!’ And then there’s the thank you notes but let’s not give ourselves a headache over that one just yet!

In between all of this – there are the clothes to wear to all of these events!  The bride has the added burden of not only-

  • a wedding dress, dresses for teas, showers, sip and sees and luncheons-
  • the Bride also had to have a trousseau,
  • a peignoir set for her wedding night,
  • honeymoon wardrobe and oh yes!
  • The Going Away Outfit!

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16I have not read one word about the royal bride’s going away outfit! Why would any bride in her right mind give up an excuse to have another outfit?  Are Going Away Outfits out of style? Surely not! If there’s no Going Away Outfit to round out the write up in the paper… ‘The Bride and Groom have planned a honeymoon to Chattanooga.. ( Atlanta, New Orleans or Jekyl Island). The bride wore a worsted wool suit that matched her bridesmaids dresses, the groom wore… after their honeymoon, the happy couple plans to make their home in…’ Do you see what I’m talking about? With no Going Away Outfit, there isn’t a decent way to end the write-up in the newspaper! Whatever happened to good write-ups anyway?8482a35a-bc6c-4543-98e2-fdffccd5e8e4.jpeg

The Going Away Outfit was usually a suit or a nice dress with a corsage or  handheld nosegay as they rushed to the getaway car, waving and smiling for the camera. Not only was the Going Away Outfit a fitting way to leave after the wedding…after all, the wedding dress had to be boxed up- ready to send to Berthon’s Blue Ribbon Cleaners and preserved for future generations.42A279F8-8F5F-4B47-BDC4-FB52556D3ACA

The Going Away Outfit was symbolic- it represented a change of status for the bride. Recently, a few friends were discussing this subject and we were dismayed to think these Going Away Outfits could possibly be outdated. My own was a wool suit the same color of the Tropicana Roses in the center of my wedding bouquet and my bridesmaids bouquets too. It was a double breasted number with tortoise shell buttons, I had well made brown leather pumps which would come in handy to wear to church, weddings or even funerals later. One friend said her going away outfit was a brown striped church dress- which her sister borrowed a few months later as her own going away outfit. The rules for the Going Away Outfit were few- 112D02C8-9091-4A55-B944-2F56500F4B1D

  • It should be well made- befitting of her status as a married woman,
  • it should have a reasonably high neck- no low cut skimpy trashiness allowed!
  • The suit or dress should be knee length, not hiked up, with slits or a suggestively short skirt, ahem…
  • We’re not talking overtly matronly but let’s face it- when Queen for a Day is over- you’re headed into Matron of Honor territory, darling!

One friend was finishing up her senior year at Auburn University where she was majoring in fashion design, she made her own going away outfit! This was no easy task! She was taking a tailoring class, she had to design her own flat patterns with measurements taken from a ‘make your own dressform’ which entailed wrapping the body in gauze and flour starch, carefully removing it and mounting it on a stand. She decided to make a linen dress- a sheath dress cut on the bias in what else but Camellia Pink? and a matching Camellia Pink Boucle Coat with lining to perfectly match.

EDCE48EB-5E20-4458-AA23-CAAAC72A8084She married in mid March, so she wouldn’t graduate before her wedding- now, really can you imagine, planning a wedding and making the outfit and all of the rest of it? A dear friend and member of the wedding party, found the perfect two tone leather shoes to match at Kessler’s in downtown Birmingham. Ultimately, she had an orchid corsage and matching handbag to boot! She blushingly recalls that her wedding night peignoir set was white- okay, what other color would it be? So was mine! High neck, lace insertion- literally the whole nine yards…but I’m getting off on a tangent. Another friend married close to Valentine’s Day so her Going Away Outfit was American Beauty Red, she’s been married 35 years and still has her Going Away Outfit- okay…not the skirt but the jacket! The other smiling bride wore a medium green linen suit, while her new husband was decked out in striped shirt and casual pants! Now, why, may you ask was this Going Away Outfit considered  necessary?

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16The bride has been trussed up in her wedding gown…endured photographs, the receiving line, the reception- perhaps the toasts, the cutting of the cake, the first dance and made the rounds to meet and greet the guests.

Imagine it, if you will… she discreetly withdraws from the wedding party- her wedding dress is carefully removed, folded away in it’s box or bagged…she changes into her Going Away Outfit… has a sweet moment with her handsome groom- hair is rearranged and makeup refreshed before she steps out of her bandbox- tosses her bouquet- hugs her mother, he hugs his… FDA17986-05C3-4A76-872B-87853CF5D899

Amid showers of rice, flower petals or birdseed, the bride is squired by her groom to the waiting car, like the dainty and delightful confection that she is- the car door closes with a solid satisfying thud.

C3ADBD7B-8629-486B-94E7-9DC928AEFE0DA box of wedding cake, cheese straws and toasted pecans is handed through the window. The happy couple smiles for one last photograph. Etiquette dictates the guests should stay until the couple leaves for their honeymoon… Sighs are heard among the crowd… ‘I thought they’d never leave!’

I sort of hate it that Going Away Outfits have Gone with the Wind… Here’s the importance of it- presumably, when the bride reappears in her Going Away Outfit, it represents her new status as a married lady, outfitted and ready to take on her new responsibilities- in her home, her workplace and her community. I think it was a sweet tradition and I still maintain- a wonderful way for the bride’s parents to make sure their daughter is prepared for the new important occasions in her life. Let’s face it, for the bride- an opportunity to get an extra nice outfit! Oh me, going down memory lane is fun!

Love y’all, Camellia

*A huge thank you to the Southern Brides who agreed to share their photos! All photographs were edited by me- they are the sole property of the community of Camellia’s Cottage and should never be used without permission. Can’t resist sharing one more…. No bride or the families can ever do it alone! There’s a whole community of folks behind the scenes- helping make it all possible- and that never goes out of style!dffa4905-aaeb-4792-a240-7176dba4fb53.jpeg

*Buster Crabbe was the original actor who played Tarzan, just in case you’re still wondering.

 

A Southern Mother’s Advice…

IMG_3477It’s a known fact that Southern Mothers dote on their menfolk and children. Wait a minute, it’s more accurate to say- Mothers tend to dote on their sons, but advise their daughters.  All. The. Time. Especially when it comes to dating. It is highly important for Southern girls, because their daddies have made them believe that no one- I mean in no uncertain terms, is good enough for their daughters.

img_3474.jpgSouthern mothers on the other hand, know what’s good enough for their daughters and what’s not. Okay. Here’s the thing… at some point the mother’s gonna have to write out an Engagement Announcement. For heaven’s sake and the surrounding communities, it better be a good one! For instance, when she asks- ‘Does he have a job?‘ a Southern Mother wants the answer to be an unequivocal ‘Yes’ even if he has a trust fund. As long as he has some gumption and it’s honest work, she can make the best of it-

  • Mechanic? ‘Harold Joe Smith is heavily invested in Automotives,
  • Pulpwooder? Buzzie Thompson is invested in Timber,
  • Farmer?  Billy Mack Hopkins III has acres of Prime Real Estate or
  • Coal Miner? Mickey Richards has Mining Interests.’

IMG_3457And if he has the semblance of a Last Name for a First Name, a Southern mother can get a decent write up for the paper. If he doesn’t have a Last name for his First name he’s probably a Yankee or a Redneck.  It doesn’t matter if his granddaddy was as crooked as the Mississippi River, a Southern Mother can overlook and explain it as a colorful eccentric background.. Now, if the young man in question is a descendent of Buster Crabbe- his rugged good looks might have translated into Tarzan on the silver screen then, but a Chest so Hairy it comes up out of the neck of his shirt? That is completely unacceptable. If his hair is like Conway Twitty or Willie Nelson, she will charm him right out of wearing it like that- Put him in a Navy Blue Blazer and Khaki Pants and no one will ever know the difference.

Basically, the Southern Mother wants the young man to have Good hair, Good teeth and Money. She can generally take care of the window dressing, especially if he smells good, too.IMG_3463

Now, if the young man asks if the Southern girl lives close to a Church or School Parking Lot because he needs to park his 18 wheeler there– for a first date? Okay, that’s not okay. ‘Sara Jean, you are not climbing up in the cab of that truck on a first date, what if he plans on takin’ you to a honky tonk or a truck stop then what will you do? And his CB handle is ‘Hauling Trouble’ !

Now, if he has money or comes from money? Even if he is ugly as homemade sin, the Southern Mother can work with that, too. She’ll talk about his triumphs on the football field or the golf course and say, ‘Well, for goodness sakes! Who would want a man to be wan and pale anyway?’ Especially if she can smell old money. IMG_2283

Southern girls have to endure the Inquisition… *Warning these are trick questions, so be careful of pitfalls here. The list of questions a Southern mother will ask, include but are not exclusive to:

  • Do you like his looks?
  • Does he have enough sense to get in out of the rain?IMG_3464
  • Does he clean up well? (If he does, no matter what he does for a living she will consider him to have potential.)
  • Does his wardrobe consist of T-shirts with sayings on them? Does said Tshirt have a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one sleeve?IMG_3466
  • Does the yard dog bark and growl when he comes to the door? Better yet, does that sensitive House Cat of yours screech and arch her back when he comes around?
  • Do children whimper and run?
  • Are you taken with him?
  • Is he conniving or wishy washy?
  • Does he have a limp wrist or a firm handshake?
  • Is he stubborn as a long eared mule?IMG_2121
  • Does he gallivant around?
  • Is he a thug or a hoodlum? Does he act like a hooligan?  (She will be checking for a prison record).
  • If he has a big set of keys jangling in his pocket and a big billfold with a chain hanging from his belt loop, she might smell money, yet not equate it with class.
  • Does he wear lifts in his shoes?
  • Is he Old School or Wild as a Buck?
  • ‘Are you just boring him to death Mary Lou or does he have narcolepsy?’
  • Are those his Real Teeth or does he have a Plate? ‘For heaven’s sake, he needs help with that halitosis! The cheapest thing you can buy is a peppermint!
  • Does he Yodel?IMG_3467
  • *Now this is important! Does he wear cut off jeans, a Speedo, or Board Shorts to the beach?
  • Is his hair a natural born color or is it green, blue or purple?
  • Is he a dude or a dud? ‘Gaynelle, is he a dude or a dud, that is the question…’
  • When you’re with him, is it Moon and Magnolias or a Buttermilk Sky and Blackeyed Peas?
  • Does he have a tendency to Howl at the Moon or just when it’s a Full?
  • Is he so Sweet it makes your Teeth Hurt?IMG_3471
  • Does he go by to check on his mother? Or, does he still live with her?
  •  Is he a Man of the Cloth? This is truly a trick question…

‘Now, you know Merry Beth, preachers that thump a Bible and run the rails have a tendency to stab you in the back, however- if he does actually wear a collar and cloth- well, now that’s different.’ Not. Really. But still.

  • Does he mostly take the Southern daughter to dance halls and honky tonks and is- ‘too drunk to kareoke’ ? (That’s coarse and common no matter how much money he has!)
  • Does he have any common sense? Is he able to extend common courtesy?  Does he have a sense of common decency? Hint: this may be the most important run of questions. Decency…

Now, even after all that, the prospective one will still have to have a ready answer for this one or she will never approve…‘Young man, who are your people?’ Remember she has a di-rect line  that rings into the State Archives Director’s Office. Really.

Assuming he’s passed all the tests, he still has to get past Daddy- who leaves the Porch light on if the young man seems nice. If Daddy is worried the lucky couple is lingering too long, the Porch Light will be flipped on and off. If his precious baby daughter doesn’t come right on in… Daddy will turn on the Floodlights as he opens the door- looking down the barrel of  his BB gun. Don’t get me wrong- Daddy doesn’t want to hurt him, just scare him a little bit.

It’s a wonder any Southern couple actually makes it to the Altar! But if he’s a good one…don’t let him get away! Even if you have to hog tie him and drag him fightin’ tooth and nail, get him to the altar! If you’re taken with him, if he makes you laugh, if he has some gumption and a sense of common courtesy and decency; the main thing is…when you can’t imagine life without him? Marry him, then dote on him like only Southern ladies know how!

Oh me, sadly all of this can or has happened.  Yet, like all good Southern tales, this one is part truth, part myth and part outright lies.

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is a humor piece, please don’t ever point a BB gun at anyone! * A huge thank you to all the Southern girls who contributed to the Inquisition, you know who you are! * ‘too drunk to karaoke’ is good ol’ southern boy, Jimmy Buffet’s line *Almost all photographs are part of the Camellia’s Cottage collection, please do not use without permission. *The vintage photo of the beauty queens holding large coins and the three cute old ladies are AOL images and may be subject to copyright

 

Sinking Spells…

 

vintage woman on fainting couchSouthern Ladies are known for vague conditions and symptoms, like Sinking Spells. We’re not looking for medical terms or specifics. We prefer eccentric descriptive health conditions like:

  • Having a Come Apart, Being in a Fog, In a Rigor
  • Suffering from the Change of Seasons, a Crying Jag or being absolutely Mortified
  • Wasting Away, Catching a Chill or In a State of Abject Horror
  • Being covered with Chigger Bites, Flustrated, or Working ourselves into a State.

We know the value and consequences of various Fits- Hissy Fits, Conniption Fits, Running Fits and if the situation calls for it- we might even Pitch a Fit. There are vague Nervous Conditions too, which are never labelled with Capital Letters. Nervous conditions are described in more colorful terms:

  • A Basket Case
  • Gone Over a Cliff
  • Being High Strung
  • Falling to Pieces (which made Patsy Cline a major Grand Ol’ Opry Star)
  • Breaking to Bits, Melancholia
  • Flighty, Nervous Ninnies, Having Spots before Our Eyes
  • Having Frayed Nerves with Hair Standing on End
  • Keeling Over (often accompanying an actual Sinking Spell)
  • Being Fragile or one of my favorites- Delicate.

Actually, any Southern Lady who suffers from nervous conditions such as Sinking Spells is not considered weak, oh no- it is proof of Ah-ris-ta- cra-tic Blood lines, Good Breeding, think of Melanie Wilkes here.  Southern ladies who chopped wood and kept the farm running during Wartime, become Fragile– so fragile she might break to bits or fall to pieces in Peacetime. . Some Southern Ladies who are High Strung  with an even Higher Temper and seem subject to Tantrams are also prone to being Delicate or having Sinking Spells when deemed necessary, Scarlet.   Really now, what woman, regardless of bloodlines wants to be thought of as a Battle Axe? No, Southern Ladies must be fragile and delicate;  look wan,  pale as a ghost, yellowed with jaundice, so delicate a puff of wind could blow her away, perhaps presenting with Chill Bumps then a Slight Fever.  Give us vague symptoms– certainly not a fever raging so high, her hair catches on fire- that’s tacky.  Having competing Visions of the Heavenlies or the Gates of Hell is scandalous.  It’s not ladylike. Eccentric descriptions of vague conditions- like a head swimming Sinking Spell are just enough to make Brows Furrow in Concern. This is not to imply we don’t have harsher words for more Serious Southern Conditions. We might say:

‘I was in such a state dealing with that Imbecile, I really should have been Medi-cat-ed but Momma warned me about Dope Fiends. I don’t want to end up like that! No sirree bobtail cat!  I just had to straighten up and be Gracious about the whole thing, so, I took a Minute to regain my Composure.’ 

Ladies must be on guard to always be Gracious and Ah-ris-to-cra-tic with our various, sundry and vague health problems! We would never appear in public with trashy conditions like Boils, Blisters, Carbuncles, Ri-sens, Knots or Pock Marks. It is unthinkable to appear Run Down at the Heels or be Prone to Hit the Bottle. Having the Heebie Jeebies or Raisin’ Cain isn’t done in polite company.  Showing Signs of overtly coarse and common conditions would send a Southern Lady Over the Cliff. We have long known that most of our vague symptoms and Sinking Spells can be cured with a Spring Tonic made from Wood Violets, Smelling Salts, the restorative Hadacol or a numbing dose of Paregoric. If a Sinking Spell occurs in the daytime, it is permissible to lay down fully clothed on top of a coverlet, but for heaven’s sake- please don’t disrobe and cover up by actually going to bed in broad daylight! It’s alright to put a cool cloth on your feverish brow in a darkened room, just don’t sit staring out into space with a washrag just on top of your head while out on the front porch! vintage fainting woman

Now I know you’re wondering- what is a Sinking Spell?

  • It is of unknown origin, ‘I told you when you let yourself get so thick, if you keep wearing those tight clothes you’re gonna start seeing spots before your eyes!’ Tight clothes are thought to be one source of Sinking Spells.
  •  Sinking Spells can be brought on by a Shock to the Nervous System. ‘Maddie Lou called and said, ‘It is with a heavy heart, I tell you the thing we greatly feared has come to pass, our skin has become lined and crepe-y. Wrinkled I tell you!’ 
  • A rise in Humidity and a sharp drop in Barometric Pressure can plague us with a Sinking Spell and a Sick Headache. ‘If this Fawg would just lift!’
  • Right before a Sinking Spell, one might be LeThar-gic (we love the word lethargic!) followed by a Queasy Stomach and Weak Knees. ‘Evah’ time I see Merry Beth in a new outfit, it just gets my goat the way she struts around. You can mark it down on the calendar, the next thing you know, my head’s a-swimming- then I’ll have a Sinking Spell.’ This is typical of a Change of Seasons Sinking Spell, a new outfit is the tonic for it and generally dispels the symptoms.

Sinking Spells are a Southern Ladies secret weapon for getting our own way. Remember ladies, this is how you have a sinking spell…  Delicate. Fragile. Vague darlin’, vague… Try having a Sinking Spell if you need a bit of sympathy, feel under the weather, need a lift or a new outfit. Don’t forget to lay in a supply of Pepto-Violet, a Spring Tonic  or a Restorative Bottle of Hadacol. You never know when you might need it. Just know that there are times when you definitely will need to take the cure. Like all good Southern tales, this one is part myth, part outright lies and in this case, mostly true.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Vintage photographs from Bing and Pinterest and are not designated with copyrights. Hadacol (20% grain alcohol) and Pepto-Violet are old remedies. Paregoric is no longer available but it was a numbing medication given freely to teething babies or women experiencing Sinking Spells.

Happy Birthday Camellia’s Cottage!

img_1454

Well, you won’t believe this but I’ve been writing about Camellia’s Cottage for a year now! I looked at the first time I wrote y’all and …well, we stumbled and bumbled along, but managed to write over 200 letters to you- won a couple of awards, img_2305-edited

…gained a wider audience than I would have ever believed -and hope to reach even more.  I’m still excited about writing to you, with hopefully better content and better writing in the coming year; perhaps without too many danglin’ participles or obtuse grammar!  Jeremy Miniard’s photographs have made us look good when we weren’t all that good, then Sally Smith shared some of her photography too! Your comments always make my day and get me tickled, some make me laugh my sides off! The Word Press Happiness Engineers were so patient when we were getting started. Questions like- ‘Ok, now what is a widget, darlin’? You know, I’m tech challenged- really have no business trying to do this…’ were graciously answered and were a huge help for someone like me, whose hands shook every time I hit publish for months on end- the amazing ‘ edit’ feature is a treasure. I found out I really enjoy writing humor, sharing what’s growing, what we’re readin’ or where we’re goin’ , what we’re doin’ and of course describing mouth watering southern food. I continue to enjoy struggling to find a photograph to go with what I’m writing even if I have to get creative about it- here are a few early attempts- don’t you just love those sweet Easter Eggs? img_1453-editedimg_1779image

It’s always a joy to find words to describe our people, who, contrary to popular belief are not all the same. We might talk funny but even the way we drawl varies. Perhaps my deepest joy is writing a Sunday inspiration; and I completely adore showing off this beautiful state, Alabama. Some of our folks might be nutty as fruitcakes- but as Eudora Welty once put it, ‘The South takes care of our eccentrics’.  I know this to be true, the South takes care of me! I have more to tell you about how Camellia’s Cottage began, but now is the time to  celebrate! You won’t believe some of the new stuff we have in the works for you!  If you decide to hang around a while longer, invite your friends, I’d love to meet them.  In the meantime, I hope you laugh, I hope you dance, I hope life treats you kindly, I hope all your dreams are coming true… ok, I’m starting to sound like the lyrics to a country music song. Drop by Camellia’s Cottage every chance you get, linger a while -maybe sip a tall glass of sweet tea, nibble on some cheese straws, extol the value of living close to a tomato vine, chew the fat- whisper a bit of gossip and share a bit of wisdom and  inspiration…I truly look forward to visiting with all of you…

Love y’all, Camellia

visit Jeremy miniard’s work at Jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com or in our search engine- look for Porches of Alabama, Doors of Alabama, Backroads of Alabama and more!

visit Sally Smith at http://www.CampCreekCreations.com   *all of the photographs in this post are obviously mine!

Winter in the Deep South…

vintage-burl-and-freesia-1

After the beautiful weather we’ve had this week, it’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, we had snow! That’s Winter in the Deep South for you.  The Seasons here are like a big family, we love to show off our Spring Beauties in all of their glory days, we have loads of fun with the Triplets- Lake, Bay and Gulf Coast in Summer, then we long for the weather to cool off for when the fun, colorful cousins-Fall, Foliage, Football and Holly Days arrive. But Winter in the Deep South is the fickle eccentric side of the family. Snow is like the flighty aunt who lives way up above the Mason Dixon Line, who makes sneaky calls to the weatherman sayin’ she’s coming home but changes her mind at the last minute. Aunt Snow is mostly a no-show, but when she does drift down it’s a surprise visit. She comes breezing in and before she can wear out her welcome she’s gone- leaving us to wonder when or if we’ll ever see her again. Snow is the most fickle weather condition in the Deep South. This sun-filled winter week, the flowering quince is showing out and bulbs are pushing up foliage- like when our colorful sun-loving cousins are around, quirky things happen. It’s because we’re having another weather pattern that actually does happen every Winter in the Deep South- a warm spell right in the dead of winter. We worry about the foliage and blooms- we would rather have blossoms near Easter. Old gardeners tell me that it’s actually a good thing for bulbs to put out foliage- if a killing frost comes through, the bulbs will have extra food to make it until Spring. Who knows if it’s true? Yet, somehow we do manage to have a beautiful show sometime along April or May- though I do recall one Easter when everything was just beautiful then lo and behold! Aunt Snow showed up before we had a chance to get out the bed sheets to throw over the azaleas!  We generally accept that Winter in the Deep South will be like having unexpected company, you know the type, the eccentric, unusual characters. Uncle Duncan Raines is quite a character- using colorful loud language, Uncle Dunc storms in, dropping by for a few demanding hours and then leaves you with a mess to clean up. vintage-burl-and-freesia-2

Or, the unexpected company is like Uncle Burl Frost, who always overstays his welcome. If he brings his sister with him? Let’s just say, we  nevah roll out the welcome mat when Burl Frost and his sister Freesia Butler drop by! Brrrr! It’s a chilling visit! Pipes rattle and freeze when they hear these two coming. Burl and Freesia are considered bonafide nuts! However, the most peculiar and eccentric of the whole Winter clan is- Uncle Gray Ova Caste. He doesn’t say much, so we don’t either. We tell ourselves that Winter’s occasional visits from Aunt Snow are fun, that Frost and Freesia kill off the bugs, we always need a Duncan Raine…it’s just the cold, gray overcast days that dampen our spirits. The doldrums set in when Uncle Gray Ova Caste settles in for a long dreary spell. They say he made his fortune in pharmaceuticals.  After one long stretch of heartbreakingly damp, overcast days, hanging heavy with fog- a friend once exclaimed, ‘If this fog would just lift!’ Uncle Gray Ova Caste is plain depressing, he shows up with heavy footsteps, damp boots and sits there looking dreary. We sit around longing for him to move along. That’s the part of Winter in the Deep South we dread the most, but then there are those clear dark starry nights when he finally drifts away. Without much warning, another warm spell will come along and lift our spirits. The Camellias will bloom, and we’ll tell ourselves that Spring in all of her glory will come by soon. I for one, am longing for it.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Vintage photographs of ‘Uncle Burl Frost and his sister Freesia Butler’ are from old family photographs belonging to Camellia’s Cottage- they were unnamed so Burl and Freesia seemed as good as any!vintage-burl-and-freesia-3

*Also, I would like to say- it’s at times like these that I truly wish I was a better writer and made better use of this beautiful language to convey what Winter is like in the Deep South, but hope you had fun with my folly and unusual cast of characters!

Snowed in…

jeremy-winter-22Weezie Walters opened her door with the intention of going out to get the newspaper and was hit in the face with freezing cold air, she eased it back shut and thought better of it, she was snowed in..for two whole days now. This is almost unheard of in the South- one day, maybe- but to be snowed in for two whole days, rare. The menfolks had braved the weather the day before to check on road conditions; one man opened his law office-a couple came by who were considering divorce after being snowed in for 24 hours. He talked them down with strong cups of coffee until a compromise was reached. The problem started when the husband let his hunting dogs in the house to keep warm- they had a running fit-knocked over the wife’s heirloom silver and crystal epergne and snagged her mother’s antique Christmas lace tablecloth. The husband had paid a whole lot for those hunting dogs, and were arguably worth more than the heirlooms but the sentimental value of the antiques rendered them irreplaceable. So with the lawyer’s help, it was mutually agreed upon that the dogs needed to be put in the garage with the heater running full blast while they were snowed in. As soon as possible, the husband needed to try to replace the heirloom epergne with one of equal or greater value with the firm understanding that one way or another he would spend the rest of his life paying for it. crystal-and-silver-epergne

Another man opened his Used Car and Antiquities location. He actually sold two cars and an old sideboard too. Now he had customers on the way over from the law office. He thought to himself, maybe it wasn’t so bad being snowed in. Another fellow noticed the dire reports of road conditions were true in some areas; one particularly well travelled road had slick spots bad enough to be closed off, folks all along that road were snowed in too. There was a pile up on the Interstate, which had changed the travel plans of several who were determined to get to Tampa to meet their Cruise Ship.Instead of flying they decided to just drive, the roads would be better the farther south they went and at this rate, it would take longer to wait at the airport than to bite the bullet and drive-far better than cancelling the trip because they were snowed in. William and his brother Billy decided to get out in the yard and split some extra firewood until the axe handle broke and they started hollering at each other about whose fault it was; they gave it up since they were set for firewood anyway and just needed to let off some steam. jeremy-winter-24

Mary Belle sent her grown son outside with a step ladder to break off some icicles, she held the step ladder for him and together they packaged them up in zip lock bags to put in the freezer for the next time her grandchildren came for a visit. Ray Vann’s Aunt Lizzie decided to close up her home, so- along with her two of bridge playing friends- they were headed to his house because icy sleet threatened their power and cable television. Ray Vann planned to make up a fourth and was well pleased; the ladies brought a chicken casserole, a pound cake, a big pot of soup, hot curried fruit and the makings for a hot punch. 2015-12-21 11.08.39

Ray Vann’s house has a generator and like his sweet momma taught him -if things got testy, he could always fortify the cider with cooking sherry. Ray Vann was pulling out the cooking sherry when he recalled that he had heard the Public Transportation Van had to cut the route short due to inclement weather the day it snowed…only one stop was made after weather reports were beginning to come in. First on the van that morning were two meek women who needed to run to Walmart for milk and bread. Then a church lady got on-she asked to be dropped off at the AME Church of the Jordan River to prepare the building for shelter.img_2264-1

She smelled of lavender and lemon, tight curls freshly coiffed, a starched shirt under a wool shirtwaist with a worsted wool coat, silk scarf, sensible polished shoes and a small overnight case, she was ready to get snowed in.  She sat right behind the driver to keep an eye on things and had a good grip on her large pocketbook. Next a third woman from one neighborhood over, got on-bundled up in her wool scarf, puffer coat, thick socks and puffer boots with fake fur, sort of trashy looking truth be told. The last stop took on a large male passenger who appeared to be a grouchy Veteran of Foreign Wars. He sat down so hard that it felt like the tires had gone flat on his side of the van and alarmed the others. It was told on good authority that he abruptly stated to the driver- ‘ABC Store!’ Well, the church lady looked indignant, stiffened her spine in disgust- while the other women cleared their throats and looked out the window nervously.   Since the Alcohol and Beverage Control Store was close by, the van driver pulled in there first- getting directives as to how to proceed due to weather concerns. This apparently pleased the veteran no end- he turned to the ladies and gallantly said- ‘Would you ladies like for me to pick up anything for you?’  The puffer coat woman began fumbling in her bag for cash; with a large cough said ‘Why yes, I feel a head cold coming on. A hot toddy might do the trick since it’s clear the doctors offices’ll be closed.’ One of the two women said, ‘Well if you’re asking, here’s a ten- get me a smallish bottle of bourbon- I need to replace what I used making fruitcakes.‘ The church lady peered her way disapprovingly. The other woman sniffed loudly and with a look of abject dismay said ‘Why no! I don’t need a thing, thank you very much!‘.  The church woman looked kindly on her. Oh the indignity of it all. While the man was in that evil store, the church lady withdrew her Bible from her pocketbook and began to read, “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty..” Raising her hands toward heaven the dismayed woman cried-‘Amen!’ Another weak ‘Amen’ from the fruitcake lady. The woman with a cough, just coughed louder and shifted down in her puffer coat. The driver said, ‘Ladies, no Walmart stop today- this weather is getting bad.’ The heavy veteran got back on- all smiles now and began handing out the plain brown paper bags. The fruitcake woman had withered under conviction, and said- ‘Just keep it.’ Her friend nodded with stern approval. The puffer coat woman narrowed her lying eyes and with a cough said- ‘Look, it’s just a precaution.’ The church lady began humming ‘We shall overcome’ as the van pulled away from the ABC store. Apparently the wind was taken out of the passengers, but the air in the tires held out to get them home where it is reported the cough has miraculous healed, the righteous are intact and the veteran is rewarded. Snowed in. jeremy-winter-23

Yes, Weezie was wise to stay in and not risk breaking a hip on the slippery sidewalk. Women of a certain age, like Weezie have kept civilized society intact in the South. Especially when they are snowed in. She got back in bed with her phone, lap desk, pen, notepad and stationary and here’s what she did:

  • Wrote a nice note to  Ray Vann for taking in her friends
  •  Wrote a letter to the local officials admonishing them to pay closer attention to the delicate sensibilities of female passengers when a male passenger felt the need to fortify himself.
  • She made a few calls to check on her neighbors
  • Received a call from a frantic mother of the bride who was wrestling with the wording for the newspaper announcement
  • She wrote a note of condolence to her distraught friend, offered to let her use her silver epergne any time she needed it- that men are basically children when it came to their hunting dogs and as soon as it thawed out the two of them would get out and take that tablecloth to a seamstress who still does fine lacework and tatting.
  • Weezie made a note to get that axe handle replaced and be sure to thank William and Billy for keeping her firewood warm and dry again this year.
  • She wrote out a check to the AME Church of the Jordan River to help with their shelter efforts again this year
  • Her annual check to the Aid and Comfort Committee of the Veteran’s of Foreign Affairs in honor of her late husband, Fitzsimmons and
  • A check to the local animal shelter if things deteriorated for the hunting dogs.
  • Word came through that the travelling cruisers made it to their ship with time to spare, and yes, she would be looking for a post card from every port.

Weezie got up, put on a pot of vegetable soup, made a couple of casseroles to put in the freezer for an unexpected event, squeezed a wedge of lemon and a swirl of honey into her hot tea, then got back under the covers with her latest copy of the Tallulah Tattler, which was her only vice. Weezie could hear mommas up and down the street calling out to their children- ‘In or Out!’ and thought how some things never change, especially when folks in the South are snowed in.

No, Weezie as long as you’re around, darlin’- we will live like civilized folks instead of like a bunch of heathens, especially when we get snowed in. Oh lord, like any Southern tale this one is part myth, part truth and part outright lies- but I dearly love to tell these tales.

Love y’all, Camellia

All names and places are fictional, figments of my imagination. Any resemblance to an actual event is  coincedental.

*Bible Verse from Proverbs 23:21 KJV

*Photographs Jeremy Miniard’s – find him at http://www.jeremy-miniard.fineartsamerica.com with two exception-the crystal and silver epergne is from AOL images and may be subject to copyright and the Pound Cake which is mine.