1. Eating, Obviously
The South can’t be discussed without considering the food. From the barbecue of Texas to the gumbos and etouffees of Louisiana to the Brunswick stews of Georgia to the Frogmore stews of the Lowcountry… Umm, is it dinnertime yet? But most importantly, sharing those precious moments with our friends and family while making or eating that great food: That’s what the South is all about.
2. The Winters
Look, our long, languid summers brought us snowballs, lemonade, and lake-swimming. Spring offers the outdoors, and fall brings the changing leaves and football. But our winters make the South. Aside from gathering with friends and family during the holidays and eating all our delicious holiday meals, we can walk outside. Any Southerner who has spent a winter up North understands what a pleasure it is to only wear a light jacket.
3. The College Campuses
Yes, our campuses tend to include football, which is a major bonus. But one jaunt around Vanderbilt—a national arboretum—or a visit to Mike the actual Tiger at LSU or a taste of beer from Millsaps’ on-campus beer garden, and you’ll realize there’s so much more to our campuses than ball. These campuses—many the size of small towns—transformed us into the people we are today.
4. Summer Rainstorms
We’ve got a special relationship with water down here. We fish it for food, fear it, and swim in it. Every year, for a few months, we look forward to the fat drops of rain falling on our roofs, as thunder crashes satisfyingly outside. Curling up with a warm mug of tea—or, sure, bourbon—and listening to those summer rainstorms is a rite of passage, simultaneously frightening and comforting.
5. The Stories
We hold stories in dear reverence. Our bookstores are like shrines, and we spend our long meals listening to each other’s tales. From Faulkner to Conroy to Bragg, some of the world’s greatest writers have come from the South, where storytelling still has power.
6. The Dialects
There’s a whole lot more to the Southern manner of speaking than the word “y’all,” though it should be noted that “y’all” is the smartest contraction in the English language. From “bless your heart” to being “busy as a cat on a hot tin roof,” we have fun with our language. I reckon that’s why we chat each other up so much.
Many of the South’s finest features reside between its towns and cities. From mountain ranges to breathtaking lakes to apple orchids, our land is a living landscape. We have the pleasure and the opportunity to drive through and take it all in every weekend. It’s like living in a national forest.
8. The Porch
Remember our great weather, and our beautiful outdoors? There’s nothing better than enjoying them on the porch, where we sit and sip our lemonade, beer, coffee, and tea. Things move more slowly down here, and sitting on a porch, taking it all in is how we stop and smell the roses. And, boy, do they smell sweet.
9. Growing Things
The South includes more than half of the growing zones in the U.S. We can grow nearly everything from peaches to zucchini to marigolds to sunflowers to… well, the list goes on. Gardening fulfills the Southern idea of hard work paying off. Digging our hands in the soil and spending long hours in the sun results in beautiful plants we can admire (and some we can eat!). Just ask Grumpy.
Of course the whole country cares about family, but down here, we’ll listen to Grandpa’s story about meeting Pat Conroy at every Thanksgiving dinner. We respect our elders, and we glean their wisdom. It’s probably the most important part of the Southern tradition, one we continue to honor with each passing year.