Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It's Official! I'm An Honorary Southern Belle
I’m home. My trip to South Carolina was a dream. Everything you’ve ever heard about Southern hospitality is understated! I was treated like royalty and loved every minute of it. I spoke on Saturday morning to a warm, loving chapel full of sisters. Afterward they served a delicious turkey dinner and gave me a beautiful palmetto bag monogrammed with my initials and a brass palmetto welcome sign. (If you don’t know the significance of the Palmetto, check this out. Very interesting!)
After the conference my daughter drove me by the Columbia temple. It is small and secluded—a haven nestled in a forest. That afternoon six of the sisters, Cookie, Sue, TeLene, Laresa, Marie, and the hostess Cyndy had planned a surprise for me—a Southern Tea Party (herbal tea, of course!) A beautifully set table greeted me and all the trimmings of an English Tea—the sandwiches, scones, and sweets—but with a Southern flair that included pecans (that’s PEE-cans in South Carolina) and everything else that is good. The highlight came when they made me an honorary Southern Belle. To do that they instructed me in the nuances of “Southern Speech.” I learned how to properly tell someone that something isn’t going to happen. You say (making every vowel into two sounds) “That old dawg won’t hunt no more.” I learned that when addressing a group you don’t say “ya’ll.” Instead you say, “All ya’ll.” I learned how to properly use “reckon,” “fetchin’,” “fixin’ to,” “awfullest,” and a new sense of the word “best”—as in “You best not do that again!”
After being properly instructed, I was tested and required to repeat back three things I had learned. I am proud to say I passed the test and was presented a beautiful Palmetto pin and proclaimed an Honorary Southern Belle. I proudly wore my pin today!
The next day, Sunday, I attended the Camden Ward and again was overwhelmed with love. Then in the afternoon Laresa took me to a friend’s house, or rather I should say mansion. Holly Hedge House was built in 1842 and has been lived in since it was built. Originally it was a 600 acre plantation headed by a sprawling three story main house with wide inviting porches everywhere. Behind the main house stands the kitchen house—a two story building (much larger than my home) that housed the kitchen, butler’s pantry and a huge great room that doubled as dining room (you could easily feed 85 to 90 people in there) or a ball room. Originally the downstairs housed the household slaves. It is now bedrooms and a beautiful pool room. I can’t begin to describe how magnificent! But the magic came from stepping back in time. This wasn’t a museum with roped off rooms—this was a lived in, beautifully preserved, vintage home emanating personality from every nook and corner. Its charm gathered me into its secrets so completely that I was surprised when I passed a mirror to discover that I wasn’t wearing a hoop skirt with layers of rustling petticoats.
This is only a bit of all that happened. I’m still floating! Why, I had such a fetchin’ good time I’ve a mind to go back dreckly!