• The Difference is Tea and Chimneys

    I'm a Yankee, to put it quite simply, myself and my entire family. This is not to be confused with the baseball team from New York, as that would be somewhat paradoxical. Boston Red Sox fans, we are. What I mean then, by using the term Yankee, is that I'm from the north--New Hampshire to be specific. I lived there for the first eleven years of my life, and though I've resided in Virginia for the past nine, I still consider myself a northerner.

    The South, Virginia in particular, is entirely different from the New England states. Some differences are pretty basic seasonal things: Up north we have long, drawn out winters where even if there is two feet of snow on the ground, all schools are still in session. Down here, with the shorter, milder winters, two inches of snow is cause for great alarm.

    Autumn and spring are different as well. Here in Virginia, spring comes with a mosaic of colors, whereas fall contains much more earthy tones. In New Hampshire it's just the opposite--autumn's colors go out in a blaze of glory, but during the spring, much fewer hues are to be found.

    Speaking of seasons, that's another difference. Here there are the traditional four seasons: Summer, winter, fall, and spring, but up north we have five--summer, winter, fall, mud season, and spring.

    Also, in New Hampshire we have different flowers--lupines and lilacs to Virginia's butterfly bush and dogwoods--different animals--how many people down here have seen a moose?--more bodies of water--which contribute to New England's mud season--dark black soil--compared to the sand people try to pass off as topsoil down here--and the White Mountains--so much different from the Blue Ridge Hills--I mean...mountains. But some of the strangest differences have nothing to do with the climate.

    The accents are different, for one thing. They're both odd in their own right, but up north it tends to be fast and clipped, whereas down here its slow and drawled. Up north we have the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics. Here you have the Nationals, Redskins, and Wizards. When traveling in New England you have to watch out for tourists and truckers from Quebec. Down here look out for the West Virginians. Up north we have tea and iced tea. Down here, there's tea and hot tea. We have Dunkin Donuts, but here there's Krispy Kreme. Up north we have lobster. Down here they have grits. We have brick chimneys--here they use plastic pipes. We don't run through red lights. In Virginia red apparently no longer means "Stop!" to certain individuals.

    The biggest difference though is that up north the Civil War ended in 1865. It's a very surreal feeling going to a high school where nearly every other student in your class holds to this peculiar belief that the South is going to rise again. The first time I heard someone say that was in my tenth grade American history class. My father and a friend of his used to do reenactments, and they came to the class dressed as Civil War soldiers--Dad was a Union soldier, and his friend Johnny was a Confederate soldier. Anyway, after going through their little spiel, Dad asked the class if anyone had any questions. One girl shot her hand in the air and asked--in her slow, drawling Southern accent--"Do you think the South will rise again?"

    A long pause and a cough from my father. "Uh...I think I'll let Johnny answer that one. You might take it better from him."

    So this is what I identify myself with--blazing foliage and muddy springs, snow plows and tea, a swamp in my backyard and rich, dark soil, purple lilacs and White Mountains, brick chimneys and the Boston Red Sox.

    I'm a Yankee.