By Pauline Reneaux
Fall is finally here and maybe it’s the décor at Hobby Lobby, the fact that Steel Magnolias is showing at the movie theater and the play is being presented at Louisiana College, or maybe it’s the fact that Reese Witherspoon’s new book Whiskey in a Teacup has been released, but I find my sense for adventure for all things dear to us Southern Women is in full swing. So what did I do? I bought the décor, went to the play, bought the book, and broke out a map. I jumped in my precious Volkswagen Beetle convertible and drove to Natchitoches to see the home where Steel Magnolias was filmed, but I didn’t just travel up I-49 in a rush, I took the back roads. I wanted to see the beauty of the cotton fields. I wanted look for the plantation homes LalitaTademy wrote about in Cane River. As a writer, I wanted to research adventures that I can take my characters from in my novels.
As I drove through the back roads on the first day of fall, I couldn’t help but think to myself, how many of us have gotten so busy with our everyday lives that we don’t think to take a “Sunday drive,” as my grandmother use to call them. Studying the history of our community isn’t something we generally think of once we leave school. I was fortunate enough to discover a long lost treasure recently. In a folder, I found where my grandmother had meticulously written out the history of Alexandria as she knew it and had experienced. I was never fond of history in school, but I think my longing to explore our state and document all I can about its rich history may have been prompted by finding her work. It showed me what a treasure our words can be to our families long after we leave this earth.
Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias did that very thing for us. Watching his own family’s experience he saw the women in his life as strong as steel, yet their southern roots made them beautiful like magnolias. On Simon & Schuster’s website, of Reese Witherspoon’s book, they write:
“Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother, Dorothea, always said that a combination of beauty and strength made Southern Women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.”
So I encourage you to break out your maps, or GPS, whichever you prefer and see what adventures you can plan so that you, too, can experience all that our beautiful state has to offer. I had so much fun on my own day trip that I plan to start writing a weekly piece on my own website called Saturdays with Sara Jayne. Don’t worry, I will be more than happy to share some of these adventures on here as well.
One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Keller. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
I say, make it daring!