“What is a britches?” she asked.
That little slip of my Southern tongue caused me to smile.
Later that afternoon I took a little stroll through my family roots, which I am so proud of.
I love that many generations of where I come from still cherish beautiful, rich fields. Other people might see dollar signs and housing developers. We see history and peace.
As a kid I plucked tomatoes, peppers and a few ears of corn from the garden and shined them under the garden hose. Then I hauled my full 5-gallon bucket around in the nearby housing addition, selling my wares.
When it was time to bale hay it got on my nerve that my dad insisted on riding with me every single year for a few rows, like I never drove that old Case tractor before.
In the spring I still look for new calves, and the scent of freshly cut hay is also still a comfort.
While I brag about what great cornbread-making skills I have – to serve with my big pot of pinto beans and fried potatoes – northerners salivate over cheeseburgers and fries.
Grits … no sugar, mind you, and hominy too, are just a couple of Kentucky staples.
At the weathered old country store down the road from my grandparents’ farm, the grandkids got to pick between a moon pie or a chunk of pickled bologna. I don’t guess the health department was a concern back then since the store owner stuck his chubby bare fingers inside that giant jar to cut pieces of pickled bologna with his pocket knife. We also got to choose a small glass bottle of soda, which we later placed in the creek to keep cold.
When my grandma found a tick on her leg she lit a match and stuck it right to her skin. I thought she was some kind of super woman. She never even flinched. And she cured ham in a cellar that scared me to death.
I miss hearing certain phrases that I rarely hear across the state line. Phrases like, “He pert near took the whole side off the barn when he lost the brakes on that old truck,” or “You look peeked. Are you comin’ down with something?” or “That boy would rather climb a tree and tell a lie than tell the truth on the ground.”
If someone suffered from a bad cold, they talked about being “all stoved up.” If a kid was being scolded for not listening, the words often came out like this, “I told you plain to stop that.”
If you were acting extra terrible, you might also hear, “There is a switch out there in the yard with your name on it. You hear me?” or “You’d better straighten up and fly right.”
I learned very young to appreciate being surrounded by all things green, not houses and souped-up cars and people yelling out their front doors. So I have made peace with the fact that I will always wish for a quiet little house in the country.
Maybe I fell in love on my own with summer evenings under the stars. All I know is that I still wish to hear tree frogs talking under a beautiful moon. I still wish to see my grandpa trudging from the barn, stopping on the porch to wash his hands in that huge bowl my grandma always left on the porch railing, with a bar of soap next to it.
Today’s children are surrounded by every possible video and computer game. They have no freckles on their faces from playing in the sun. They are missing out on so much. And none of it costs a dime.
Sherri Coner is an award-winning journalist and humor writer who speaks to women’s groups. To learn about her books for women and to join her on Facebook, visit www.sherriconer.com.