From the Publisher: Southern Flavor

Relishing unique customs

Emily Clay

I love Southern culture. In my rather biased opinion, there is just no region in the country as fascinating as ours. We have many components that set us apart, including our passion for nurturing our unique identity. It has been said that our habits are strong and our memories long.

In asking our CMM team about some ways they celebrate their Southern heritage, Sandra Zimmerman said her family collects keepsakes. She has an heirloom baptism dress, handmade by family and passed down through the generations, most recently worn by her granddaughter, Molly. Sandra even has cast iron skillets from her grandmother, including directions for seasoning. Nancy Lambert’s love of needlepointing for family members is a passion passed down from her mother, Ruth. Ruth needlepointed Christmas stockings for her children as well as her grandchildren, and then Nancy followed suit in making them for her children’s spouses as a “welcome to the family” gift.

Summer, somehow, brings to the surface a medley of Southern customs. Maybe it’s the slower pace that accelerates our culture, or perhaps it’s finding ways to enjoy our heat –– temperatures that would send most people running for cooler weather. Abigail Thielke says a favorite tradition in her family is traveling to her parents’ home on Edisto for weekends and holidays. “From the flowing Spanish moss in our back garden, to the smell of the salt air coming off of Big Bay Creek, there’s no place that rejuvenates and rebalances me more than our Lowcountry home,” Abigail shares.

“All I can think of is barbecue,” says Dennis Craighead of a meaningful Southern ritual. “And it should be noted that ‘barbecue’ does not mean throwing some hot dogs on a grill … a proper barbecue is an all day event that includes an entire pig.”

One unique and possibly fast-fading Southern tradition is peach leather, a delightfully fresh peach dessert that takes many hours and days to prepare. I remember Emmy, my great-aunt Emily Ravenel, serving me peach leather with tea, something I rather underappreciated in my younger years. To learn what a truly special art making peach leather is, read our article on page 76 that features Sarah Spruill, who holds fast to her secret family recipe for this delectable peach dessert.

On page 70, we have an article on joggling boards, quite possibly my favorite Southern tradition. When I wasn’t eating the sweet treasures of peach leather with Emmy, I was outside jumping around barefoot on her joggling board that was perched on a bluff overlooking a saltwater marsh. I spent hours in the pleasure of its trampoline type entertainment but also relished our competitions of trying to bounce each other off.

Yes, I do love our Southern culture, even our hot months when my hair wilts in-between the time I close my front door and I crank my car AC on high. Hang on to these summer days. The days are wonderfully long, so find a joggling board and try your best in jostling off your nearest competitor!


Emily Clay

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