a love letter to the fragrant South & the things i love.

Monday, March 30, 2015

'Garden & Gun' is my favorite living magazine. The articles written by fellow southerners always hit home for me and they get it. They just get it. A recent article listed 50 reasons we love the South now. Within that list was written a love letter to the fragrant South and nothing spoke more clear to me then this poem. It's the most romantic poem of the South that I have read and I am so thankful it was put into words so beautifully, it's almost become an anthem. I want to print this out and keep it forever.

A Love Letter to the Fragrant South

"Well, how are you Magnolia? Looking pretty as ever," my uncle always greeted a woman whose name he could not remember. "Magnolia" of course, speaks metaphoric volumes: It heralds the woman as the flower of the South, as mysterious and beautiful, her skin flawless; it acknowledges her fragrant allure. And that flower of the South knew full well that my uncle had no idea what her name was. 

Magnolia grandiflora, a true native. Does any other flower have quite the mystique? The California poppy, the Washington cherry, the Texas bluebonnet? Not a chance. They lack a perfumes strong as knockout drops, they lack the magnitude of the creamy tight buds that open into face-size blossoms of extravagant beauty, and they lack gravitas. At the first funeral I ever attended, a full-open magnolia blossom lay on the top of the gleaming, dark wood coffin. One was enough. 

When I lived for many years in California, the lost scents of the South haunted me most. Anytime I returned, I'd find myself outside after supper, listening to the screeching chorus of tree frogs and night birds, just breathing in the layers of sweet, dank, fecund air. To me, moonlight smells like honeysuckle. I am amazed when my scraggly daphne bush sends out heavenly blasts that no conjurer of scents ever came close to capturing in a bottle. Jasmine spreading around the front steps may be home for copperheads, but the narcotizing perfume rising to the porch compensates for that inconvenience. 

All this fragrance of jasmine, honeysuckle, daphne, gardenia, rose - our magical scents, yes, but the truest Eau de South, I must insist, remains the magnolia. On a summer night when I raise the window, the soft, waxy sweetness of the ethereal flowers suffuses the room. That's when I think, "Why live anywhere else, ever?"

- - - - I  shake my head at the disbelief of how much I adore these words. The rest of the article lists reasons as to why we love the South now. The ones that stuck out to me most and that I related to were : 

No. 06 : We Embrace The Past
  "My favorite thing about the South is that it never turns its back on its mistakes. Our history has some seriously rough edges but we don't file them down or sand them smooth. We live with them and move on. And that flavors every single aspect of Southern life. 

No. 18 : Our People Are Our Ambassadors
   "Sure, I like architecture, gardens, food, beaches, and blues. But the people are our ambassadors. When you meet 'the South' in the form of a person, you meet a storytelling, belly-laughing, back-slapping, authentic soul. Southerners are spontaneous and hospitable; they can throw a party on short notice, and yes, bring the houseguest. To distill it, it's the confidence and ease, humor and hospitality... heck, I hope they put that on my tombstone." - Charlotte Moss

No. 30 : The Most Colorful Roses Grow Here
     Technically, Confederate roses are members of the hibiscus genus, but this incongruously named cool girl of the Southern garden flaunts peony-like blooms that can change from snow white to hot pink in a single day. Regional folklore has it, the rose's once white - flowers soaked up the blood of dying Confederate soldiers, accounting for the color change.  

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