Tag Archives: decor

28. Taxidermy (Dead Animal Decor)

3 Mar

I once had a babysitter who was a taxidermist. Seriously. Ok, probably his wife was my official babysitter, but I did spend a fair amount of time in his workshop watching him preserve local fish and wildlife. I must have been fairly well behaved, else I might be hanging on a wall somewhere myself right about now. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s why I was well behaved.

Why do Southern folks enjoy decorating with dead animals? Beats me. I reckon they want to show off their hunting/fishing prowess and nobody awards gold medals in these particular “sports.” Biathlon comes closest, but no matter how good a shooter s/he is, no Southerner is about to run or ski 15 or 20 kilometers. What Southerner even knows how far that is? (myself included)

As far as I can tell, the most popular wall-mounted creatures are deer (rack size directly proportional to size of hunter’s ego. Yes, that’s a euphemism.), big-mouth bass, ducks, and squirrels. I’ve never seen the mythical jackalope, but they’re supposedly pretty big in Texas. And I’ve heard about folks with stuffed possums, but why? If you’ve driven in the South for any length of time, chances are you’ve killed a possum. It’s not exactly an achievement worth advertising.

When I was growing up, one of my aunts lived in this swank antebellum mansion with pricey antiques everywhere you looked. Still, there were the ubiquitous dead animals. But not just any dead animals. Oh, no. These were fancy dead animals. An elk head. A moose head. And if memory serves, the head of a long-horned sheep. Oh, and a huge bear rug. Which I liked to pretend was a zebra. Politically incorrect from birth, I suppose.

At my parents’ house, there used to be a squirrel mounted on a hunk of tree bark. My mom told me that when I was little I used to freak out anytime I came within a few feet of it. Then one day she walked in when no one was in the room and caught me lovingly petting it. Which may have been how I got the reputation as the “sneaky” one in the family. Right, had nothing to do with my teenage years…

Before you yankee types get all high and mighty about how taxidermy is barbaric and ought not be considered an art form, I should mention that the largest collection of taxidermy I’ve ever encountered was in New York City. New York City?! Yep. It’s called The Museum of Natural History. Probably because east coasters wouldn’t so eagerly flock to the “Museum of Bones and Taxidermy.”

Have you ever personally decorated with dead animals? What’s the strangest stuffed creature you’ve ever encountered?

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21. Birdhouses–for Decoration, not Shelter

29 Jan

If you go to any artsy/crafty show in the South (and I HIGHly recommend you do), you will no doubt run across a fair amount of decorative birdhouses. Some are designed to hang in trees, but more often they’re attached to some sort of stake that folks stick in the ground. And you’d be hard pressed to find a lone birdhouse in anyone’s yard. They multiply like tattoos on a hipster…

There’s this house down the road from my dad’s place that has probably 20 birdhouses planted in a row in the front yard. I’ve often thought of stopping to take a photo, but on the one hand I don’t want to be conspicuous and on the other hand I just can’t be bothered to pull over. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Or take a drive down the Florence/Byram road and see for yourself.

Years ago, my mom got swept up in the birdhouse craze, and I must confess that I contributed to her rapidly growing collection. One day she calls me up and says, “You know that bird house you gave me last year for Mother’s Day? Well, I was planting some impatiens next it and the top of it just fell off. I looked down in there and there was a BIRD’S NEST in it!”

Me: “Um, yeah. It’s a birdhouse. What do you expect?”

Mom: “It’s MY birdhouse. It’s not for those BIRDS to go around making nests in. I took the nest out, but the other day I was out there and I saw a BIRD fly out of it!”

Me: “Well, if you don’t want birds in there, you’ll have to cover the hole so they can’t get in.”

Mom: “But then it wouldn’t look as pretty.”

Point taken.

4. White Rocking Chairs–Who Needs Picket Fences?

15 Sep

Why is it that the very minute a Southerner acquires a front porch (or reasonable facsimile), she must run to Cracker Barrel and buy a white rocking chair? Visit any Southern neighborhood with a decent concentration of front porches (shouldn’t be too hard to find), and you’ll see what I mean – oodles of white rocking chairs. What you won’t see is anybody actually sitting (much less rocking) in them.

I figure this has to do with the romantic notion that Southern folks sit around on the front porch drinking lemonade or mint juleps 24/7. Sure, they would like to. But they’ve got jobs, soccer games, and dentist appointments just like anybody else.

Maybe the white rocker symbolizes a Southerner’s desire to return to the simpler days. Back when folks talked instead of texting. Before “Gossip Girl” replaced good old-fashioned gossip. When the Black Eyed Peas were something you ate with cornbread.

Do you have white rocking chairs on your porch? And why do they always seem to travel in pairs?

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