Tuesday, December 07, 2004

How can it be December when it's 68 degrees outside? Here in the Pine Grove, we are experiencing thunderstorms and brief bursts of heavy showers. The Cats feel it is a good day for sofa napping and they are correct. I've lived here in the Deep South for years now and I've yet to connect with the weather.
So severe! So hot! So off-calendar! Threat of hurricanes sends us to lug out the window panels (I see that the bolts are still in cups on the backporch from the threat of the last Big Blow.) Rapid rivers of residue blow down the driveway and through the streets and if I didn't have the paperwork proving I'm not in a flood zone, I'd wonder why, several years ago, we had four inches of water in the house. The water went out as quickly as it came in but what a horrid mess! I bought flood insurance to the amusement of my insurance agent who reminded me of the years I carried tornado insurance because of a NYT article I read on weather patterns here in the Deep South. Well, what would you do?
Along with carrying an umbrella for the six months of the year when it SHOULD be raining only to lose all the 'brellas during the six months of heavy showers, this weather situation is a horror for fashionista clergy.
I mean it.
How can one dress in December when it is warm enough to wear shorts and flip-flops? I've done that! It was flip-flop weather from end-of -February til' October and I had to toss away the flops because they were worn out. I am ready for long pants, light jackets and the thrill of wearing a turtleneck without being hot and crabby. I want to wear goofy Christmas sweater to the Yacht Club Ladies Auxillary Holiday Luncheon. Is this too much to ask? (BTW, I am the Chaplain of this organization with responsiblity for praying over the buffets. Just to let you know I'm busy with heavy-duty pastoral chores ALL THE TIME.)
I do not want to wear summer clothing until Spring. I want to wear darker colors with some texture and I don't mean black linen.
Note to self: order short sleeved clericals this year. Do it. Even though you think they look jerky, short sleeves are cooler than long sleeves. Remember that if you order the beige Almy shirt it will look pink after several washings and think hard about wearing pink clericals. And, forget the idea of white terry cloth collars for clericals. It is a stupid idea.
The LS and LD wear shorts to school everyday. In colder weather they may wear jeans but will stomp home complaining about being "too hot." Most Pine Grove schools do not allow flip-flops on campus. This is a good thing. FF's slow you down when running to class, promote toe-examination during slow lectures and can be used to pop friends over the head.
When I moved down heah (venacular spelling) I gave away my LL Bean rag sweater and most of my woolens. My genuine Harris Tweed vintage coat stayed in my closet for Up Nawth trips for years until my younger sister's oldest sister told me while walking the streets of Boston that I looked like a "bag lady." I gave it away although I'd gotten it in the Missionary Closet at the Seminary and considered it one of my best things. I gave away all of my cold weather stuff the first year I could wear shorts to Christmas Dinner at the in-laws. I thought shorts on Christmas Day was durn novel. Now, I grit my teeth and hope for some cold weather so I can wear my Talbot's jacket picked out for me by my sister-in-law who is gorgeous and KNOWS HOW TO DO. KHTD is the best compliment a Southern woman can say about another woman. There is no higher praise.
The LH wears long sleeves year round even in the arduous heat of Summer. He feels about short sleeve shirts as I do. Short sleeves are for golf shirts, t-shirts and that's it. I think "sleeve length" is a cultural issue and should be studied by Ph.d.'s. Consider how Howard Dean's rolled up sleeves did not translate to the South. Consider how the British roll and fold up their sleeves above their elbows. A Deep South Southerner might roll as sleeve but the roll will be a careful (and artful) folding below the elbow and not above.
It' s too warm for December. Let's just leave it at that.


Nightwoodkitty said...

OK, sporty gal here doesn't have a lot of comments about clothing except to say here in the upper south it is 73o and likewise hard to dress for. Your sister-in-law must be one of those women with a great visual eye, with flair, who doesn't over do. People in my blue enclave do not dress up much, except for the realtors and the bankers. The lawyers don't even dress. People wear expensive drapey well-accessorized outfits and I wonder where they get them.

St. Casserole said...

What are drapey well accessorized outfits? Maybe I can find some for you at garage sales. Does drapey mean "loose fitting."
Glad to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Pup.
You mention "clericals" and I am fascinated. Somewhere else you said that you are a Presbyterian pastor. I think there are about 5 different Presbyterian denominations, (not all of which ordain women.) I belong to PCUSA (which does ordain women) and our pastors don't wear "clericals" but then again I'm living in the wild west. Is this something that is a cultural requirement of the south or a requirement of your denomination? (I know, this question is pure silliness!)

One of my friends spent 5 years pastoring a church in Louisiana (PCUSA) and when I visited him I was fascinated then also with the cultural differences between the west coast and the south. He hosted a party and I knew I was horribly underdressed in slacks when the rest of the attendees arrived in dresses and suits. (It was just an informal birthday party and they considered their attire informal!) What bugged me the most was the southern accent my friend (referring to the wife now) had acquired. She was almost unrecognizable to me! ( I forgave her ;-)

Anyway, if you would like to rant some more about clothing here's your chance.

St. Casserole said...

Pup, ask me stuff about living in the South. I've lived in five Southern states. I'm a born Southerner.
About the clericals. I wear a full, around my neck clerical collar, with my alb when I preach. I wear clericals if I'm going to the hospital, speaking to a community groups. I don't HAVE to wear a collar but it helps identify me as a pastor when I need quick access, like going to the ER to see a parishoner.
It is my choice to wear the collar, I don't think there are any rules. I do recall that years ago, Presbyterians wore frock coats to preach (this was way before women clergy) and in Scotland the preachers wore "tabs" on their collars (two short lengths of fabric hanging down the front of the collar).
Down here, most Presbyterian pastors don't wear collars except with their vestments, if then.
In terms of theology, the collar is supposed to mark us as "collared" for Christ, as a servant. This gets a tad tricky because we are not to set ourselves as above the laity but our authority comes from the "approbation of God's people" and an inward call.
This is where the cultural stuff enters. I'm in a state loaded with Roman Catholic priests. They wear collars all the time. When I see one "off duty" in a golf shirt, it is rather jarring. People here see collars often. When I wear a collar, it may be jarring for those who see me. I've had strangers stop me to ask religious questions, ask me if I'm episcopalian and so on.
While I don't want to be obnoxious, I think there may be some good accomplished by my wearing a collar so that the visual image of a clergywoman is promoted. What I don't ever want to do is promote myself. The ministry itself, yes. Me, no.
In the past, a collar would make the wearer more invisible as just another servant of God stomping around. The person wasn't important. The servant work was important. This concept is lost to us now.
I do stand out when I wear a collar and I can feel self-conscious about it. One doesn't feel comfortable heaving beer cans out the truck window or waving the Lousiana Hello with one's hand at other drivers. One feels circumspect.
My husband would like me to wear a collar every time I leave the house. He thinks it is a good idea for the community to see "designated religious people" out and about.
Pup, I'm PCUSA. We have all of the Presbyterian schismatics down here. I've been here long enough to see the PCA slash and burn it's way through communities and, in the early days, take our churches. We have OPC, EPC, PCA and RPC. Makes me soooo proud. Hurts our mission to be shredded into pieces like this especially with the PCA shrieking, "APOSTATE! APOSTATE!" at us.