And, God said, “Let there be kudzu.” I love kudzu. I planted some in my backyard in hopes that one day it would swallow my house. Everything looks better swallowed in kudzu.

Entering Conecuh County. That’s what the little green sign reads, off Highway 31. I’m going north, passing through a small sliver of the county. I love Alabama.

A few weeks ago, I was driving to Birmingham, I listened to an audio book. The narrator spoke with an accent like a New Jersey paperboy. He pronounced Conecuh as “Koh-NEE-koo.”

That hurt.

Now entering Butler County. Wingard’s Produce Stand. B&H Cafe. Dollar General. There’s the McKenzie water tower.

And, God said, “Let there be kudzu.” I love kudzu. I planted some in my backyard in hopes that one day it would swallow my house. Everything looks better swallowed in kudzu.

Georgiana is eight miles away. I love it, too. I’ve visited the Hank Williams boyhood home in Georgiana too many times.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Hank. It goes back to childhood.

My father’s workbench. A radio. Hank, blaring from a small speaker while he changed the oil.

My favorite part of the Hank museum tour is the underside of the house. Miss Margaret says Hank used to practice his guitar there.

“It was cool down there,” says Miss Margaret. “He’d sit on an old car bench-seat to avoid the heat.”

Miss Margaret. I love her, too. She is old. Half her face is paralyzed. Her accent sounds like a Camellia garden on the Fourth of July. I wish she would adopt me.

Georgiana also has Kendall’s Barbecue joint. “Love” is a weak word for Kendall’s. I WOULD tell you more about this place, but someone wrote me an ugly letter last week, saying:

“You talk about Kendall’s TOO MUCH! I’m from Texas originally… I KNOW good barbecue, Alabama barbecue SUCKS, man!”

I understand Texas is beautiful this time of year. I’ll bet they’d throw a nice party if you went back.

I’m passing the Greenville and Pine Apple exit. Greenville is a town like Mayberry. I love it. Pine Apple is the size of a master closet. I love it.

It’s raining, but the sun is still out. I really love that. Behind the sunshower, I can see blue skies and clouds. I roll down the window to take in the smell.

“The Devil’s beating his wife,” my daddy would’ve said, observing such a scene.

Childhood-me would’ve looked at the sky and asked what he meant. He’d give an explanation that would lead into a ghost story. I loved his ghost stories.

I have a friend who grew up in New York. He had never heard the expression before. He asked why sunshowers were called that. I told him the rain was supposedly tears from the Devil’s wife.

“Wait,” reasoned my friend. “I thought the Devil lived in Hell, not in the sky.”

Good point. Maybe the Devil is originally from Texas.

Anyway, people talk a lot about things they hate. I don’t care for it. It makes me feel tired. I’d rather think about summer rains, Miss Margaret, county tractors, bush-hogging the shoulders of the highways, and crickets.

Or hugs from a child on the last day of Vacation Bible School. Three-legged dogs. Truck-stops. Welcome mats. Conecuh Quick Freeze sausage. Long drives. Daddy, changing his oil—listening to a radio.

I love this—whatever this is. Writing to you. I’ve been doing it for almost five years now. And even though I don’t know which state you call home, I know a few things:

I know that I’m glad we met. I know that Alabama is beautiful.

And I know that this barbecue will blow your cotton-picking mind.


  1. Howard Yeager - September 15, 2018 5:47 am

    “Good point. Maybe the devil is originally from Texas.”

    That is Alabama Masterclass!!

  2. C.E. HARBIN - September 15, 2018 5:48 am

    I am looking forward to seeing you at the Civic Center this coming Thursday. I’ve invited several friends and we are all little old white haired ladies with big grins.We’ll be wearing our pearls, too.
    Thanks for putting grins on our faces. We all love Alabama and think it is beautiful. We love Florida, too.
    I’m sure they don’t smile as much in Texas or have near as much Kudzu.

    • Susan Jones - September 17, 2018 2:38 am

      I too, am looking forward to seeing you Sean Thursday in Gardendale! I can relate to all your stories. I don’t miss a day without reading them. Cry sometimes and laugh sometimes… But I wouldn’t miss a day reading them. You’re my people and yes, I love you too!

  3. Connie Havard Ryland - September 15, 2018 5:53 am

    Thanks for the smile. Thank you for being so nice. I feel fortunate to have seen you in person twice and got a hug both times. I got to meet Jamie too. She’s lovely. I’m an old Alabama woman too, and I’ve lived other places, but I came back and settled in a small town in Alabama. It is a beautiful place. Be safe on the road. Can’t wait to see you again and hear more stories.

  4. Jan Balsbaugh - September 15, 2018 6:01 am

    Well, Sean, I am from Oregon and we have sundshowers, too. A feist puppy in Alabama became our traveling buddy and constant companion almost seven years ago, and I am glad we met, too. Your writing has changed my view of the “unseen” people that surround us in our daily comings and goings. I want to know their stories. Thank you for sharing some of those stories you have collected, including your own.May God bless you and your wife and may His grace and peace be yours in abundance.

  5. Sandy G - September 15, 2018 6:16 am

    Assuming you’re talking about “Miss Margaret Jane”, she’s my great aunt on my mom’s side of the family and also serves as the caretaker of our family roots. She’s a very special lady! Reading this clip just made my day!

  6. Pamela McEachern - September 15, 2018 6:26 am

    Stars Fell On Alabama there is no place like it and I was blessed to be born and raised here. Your brothers and sisters here love you.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  7. lisa weber - September 15, 2018 7:24 am

    Mr. Sean, Love to read your posts & your books. I’m a true Heinz 57… My Dad is from Kentucky & my Mom is from Canada. I was born in Viet Nam after they met many moons ago. All that to say… I LOVE Alabama and all the stories you write exactly as I’ve seen them. Keep on!

  8. GaryD - September 15, 2018 8:05 am

    Of course, Alabama IS beautiful. I haven’t lived in Mobile, having been born and raised there, since 1967 but it’s still Home.

  9. Carolyn - September 15, 2018 8:11 am

    “I’m in the heart of dixie, dixie’s in the heart of me.” Alabama ♡♡♡

  10. Marilyn Vance - September 15, 2018 10:01 am

    Been 43 years since I lived there, but Alabama will always be home! Roll Tide!

  11. Donna Waterhouse - September 15, 2018 10:16 am

    When I read your words I can smell the rain falling on the kudzu and hear the swish of the wipers and soft tumbling of the tires on the not always smooth roads of Alabama. Your words bring me home and make me homesick all at the same time. I moved to Kentucky 24 years ago and when August of 2019 rolls around the years lived in my adopted state will officially surpass the years I lived in my home state and I find myself completely shocked by that detail of my life even though that detail was born through wonderful and happy life choices of my own doing.

    A former coworker shared your writing with me a few weeks ago. They know how much I love my home state and even though I visit as often as I can, it’s never quite enough. Now every morning while I’m fueling up for the day on coffee your words bring me home for just a quick visit and I cannot thank you enough for that.

    Thank you for your beautiful words woven into such beautiful stories about our beautiful state that is loved and missed so much by this transplanted Alabama girl.

  12. Jan - September 15, 2018 10:23 am

    I love all those same things … Alabama (the state that is), Kendall’s barbecue, sunshowers, fresh cut grass. And I really love to read what you write. Thank you, Sean!

  13. Sandra Herrin Swindall - September 15, 2018 10:29 am

    Love Alabama, too – it is my home. Made kudzu jelly once thinking something ought to be done with this stuff – but didn’t like it too much. Thanks for the reminder of appreciating life right around us – like good people and good BBQ, and good dogs.

  14. Judy - September 15, 2018 11:02 am

    I laughed out loud – “may be the devil is from Texas.” Your post inspires me to list the things I love…I love God and my family. I love our country – the USA. I love Alabama – I have lived all over the country as a military brat and I chose Alabama. I love Greenville also – my father’s family is from there, I was born there but soon left, and your description of it resembling Mayberry is a spot on compliment. I love bar-b-que – I have eaten Texas, North Carolina, all over our great country: I choose Alabama bar-b-que. I love hugs – actually I thrive on long, sincere hugs. I love it when I look into the car stopped beside me at the traffic light and the people in the car smile back. I love conversations at the gas pump. There are so many more things I could list like grilled chicken, sunflowers, slow rain at night, riding with my convertible top down and smelling fresh cut grass, summer night sounds. I had better wrap up my list but I can’t leave off…I love reading your stories every morning. Thank you Sean.

  15. Cheryl Clem - September 15, 2018 11:11 am

    I,m glad we met too, Sean. I look forward to visiting with you every day. I,m a 73 yr.old country girl that left the country 50 yrs. ago, but it never left me. Keep writing cause I,m gonna keep reading.
    Cheryl from La.

  16. Geneva Chandler - September 15, 2018 11:11 am

    I’ve got to stop at Kendall’s BBQ the next time I drive back to my hometown of Memphis. I, as most Memphians, believe we have the best BBQ in the world, so I need to see what this Kendall’s is all about.

  17. jane jones - September 15, 2018 11:11 am

    I include your articles in my morning devotional. I am always inspired by your messages.

  18. Judith Pierce Croxton - September 15, 2018 11:13 am

    I was introduced to Conecuh as a child. Then through my life I’ve been proud to introduce this great food to EVERYONE I know.

    Get you some!

  19. Janie's Jottings - September 15, 2018 11:55 am

    This is classic Sean Dietrich! Love it! This Georgia born, Florida raised old gal loves the same things you do and she loves you too.

  20. Leisa Taylor - September 15, 2018 11:56 am

    Thanks for this! I can see everyone of the places you named! I still buy Conecuh sausage, that my Huntsville-native husband grills to perfection. Not to be a downer, but my precious mama went to heaven 4 years ago today after a hard-fought battle with cancer. It was a comfort to just read about my neck of the woods and remember those familiar places. You rock, Sean! As for Alabama BBQ, I didn’t know there was a thing other than that charred outside meat! That’s all Mama and Daddy ever got! I didn’t actually know about “inside-cooked-to-perfection” meat until I was in college. As I’ve gotten older and fatter, I find I love all types of BBQ! It’s all good!

  21. Mike Guilday - September 15, 2018 11:59 am

    Sean, there is good barbque all over Alabama. The State should take off “sweet home Alabama” from their welcome signs and put, “barbeque State”.

  22. Melanie Murphy - September 15, 2018 12:07 pm

    I lived in Texas for 3 1/2 years. Counted down the days til I could get back to my beloved Alabama & Conecuh sausage & the best BBQ around. Thank you, Sean. I’m glad I met you.

  23. Joy - September 15, 2018 12:36 pm

    Enjoy everything you write about…I am a transplant…my husband says I am a Yankee, but I say I am from the mid-west, where the tall corn grows! Been living in the South almost 45 years and now consider myself a Southern…think my husband does too…he no longer refers to me as a Yankee!

    Love your stories and forward them on to others! Look forward to them every morning!

  24. Elizabeth Wilbourne - September 15, 2018 12:36 pm

    Hey Sean! I just wanted to tell you that I look forward to reading your stories every morning. I grew up in Alabama, and even though I’m only in Franklin, Tennessee now, I still get homesick. Your observations and thoughts make me feel like I’m home again. Thank you!

  25. Philip C benton - September 15, 2018 12:47 pm

    You are right , the best BBQ does come from Alabama , I have on many occasions had discussions of a heated nature about it , one of those things we tend to protect. I can especially remember one argument with my shipmate who was from North Carolina . Whew! don’t think we ever got it settled.

  26. Ralph Bryson - September 15, 2018 12:54 pm

    Brisket just isn’t bbq! Kendall’s good; Cherry Creek the best! Love your stories! From Cherry Creek s brother!

  27. Frank Huggins - September 15, 2018 1:08 pm

    Hey Sean, how come Alabama doesn’t have a lottery? If you had one the literacy rate might go up. Just saying.

  28. Susan Swiderski - September 15, 2018 1:13 pm

    Your words inspire us like a rainbow arcing across the sky during a gentle rainfall. It’s amazing how two people can observe the same exact thing and have two entirely different reactions to it. One sees only the ugly side of things and is never ever satisfied; the other appreciates the beauty in what (and whomever) he sees, and he feels gratitude and contentment. In my opinion, being in the second category is what puts and keeps the joy in our lives. Without a doubt, you fall into that category. That’s who you are… and you spread that joy to all who read your words. (Um, except for maybe one disgruntled guy from Texas…)

  29. Helena Shirley - September 15, 2018 1:17 pm

    I love Alabama too, although I grew up in Akron, Ohio. Please don’t hold that against me. I became enamored with Greenville the first time I visited in 1975. I eventually moved here in 1981 and proudly call this home. Thank you for putting into words how wonderful our rural South is, Kudzu and all.

  30. Terri C Boykin - September 15, 2018 1:28 pm

    Love you much Sean.

  31. Roxanne - September 15, 2018 1:37 pm

    Right this second I’m loving fresh, cheap pecan swirls for which I harbor a nostalgic love, the hummingbirds buzzing like a swarm of gnats at the feeder outside my window, and the ability to read. Also, I’ve had barbecue in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The secret to good barbecue is men in overalls who know what they are doing, a fair amount of perspiration, and a whole lotta love. I’ve had some of the best in all three places, but I know how to get to Alabama, so keep your light on.

  32. Alan - September 15, 2018 2:08 pm

    I enjoy reading all your posts. Keep up the good work.

  33. Karen G. - September 15, 2018 2:17 pm

    Well now hang on a minute, Sean. All Texans aren’t like that guy. Texans brag about all things Texas – I admit it. (There’s just so much to brag about. Sorry. Had to say it.) Some of us can appreciate BBQ in differing forms. They’re just different foods, right? Some of us can even pronounce Conecuh. I live in Tennessee now and it is a sweet, sweet place with wonderful people, magnificent weather, and is close to Alabama, where I often buy BBQ to bring home to my husband when I’m driving through. But on one point I differ vociferously: Kudzu? The devil’s garden.

  34. Bob Hubbard - September 15, 2018 3:21 pm

    Yup! Alabama is beautiful! This from an old Calhoun County (Weaver) stuck in Georgia for the last 70 years. Gotta be a story there somewhere…

  35. Edna B. - September 15, 2018 3:59 pm

    I have to agree with Karen G. There’s good folks and good food in Texas too. Every state has it own special brand of beauty. I don’t think I’ve ever been in Alabama, but I do think I’d like to visit there one of these days. It does sound beautiful. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  36. Kathy - September 15, 2018 4:17 pm

    I grew up in Ohio. Came to Alabama in 1985. I love Alabama barbecue and Hank Williams and Sean Dietrich. Thanks.

  37. Bonnie Specchio - September 15, 2018 4:24 pm

    I look forward to your musings every day – you write so beautifully and paint very vivid word pictures. I am an Illi-baman – born and raised in IL but lucky enough to have two places in AL. We have a house on Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores and my husband has a hunting camp between Selma and Thomasville, way out in the sticks. I visit with the quilters in Gee’s Bend – you should visit them if you haven’t. His first camp was near Pine Apple and I also loved that area. And I say the same thing you dad said about sunshowers! Can’t remember where I learned it. Take care and God bless!

  38. geralddowlingbooks - September 15, 2018 4:28 pm

    Every time someone sees my Auburn hat they sometimes comment about Alabama. It don’t bother me. As a matter of fact most people couldn’t find their way to Panama City Beach if not for Alabama 231.

  39. natalierimel - September 15, 2018 4:35 pm

    My friend moved to N. Carolina and her husband drove to Alabama on a whim and when asked, what can I bring back? She responded, “Conecuh sausage! They say this is a Southern state but they don’t have Conecuh!”
    Thank you for standing up for Alabama! Friday was my last day at a job and my coworker is from Washington and she hasn’t figured out our Southern ways and criticizes what we do and say. She is going back to Washington soon and I have wanted to say, ” Washington will welcome you back with open arms and may you stay there!” But, as a Christian, Southern woman I kept my tongue on lock down. So, as a proud Southern, Alabamaian born and raised, THANK YOU for telling that Texan, he is welcome to go back to his home state.

  40. Kathy M Hornsby - September 15, 2018 5:04 pm

    Sounds like South Carolina and I love it ! BBQ is different everywhere, but I can say I’ve never had any truly BAD bbq.Thanks for what you write.ALAbama brought back some lovely memories.

  41. Carol - September 15, 2018 5:16 pm

    I know you make me happy when I read one of you stories here in Ga. that’s SW Ga. right close to Dothan!
    Which I had some good barbecue right now.
    But I’m sick with the flu and better stick to soup!
    Keep writing me!
    Love ya!

  42. Beverly Wynn Bua - September 15, 2018 5:22 pm

    Kudzu is destroying the ecosystem in the area in which I live…. Lake Okeechobee & the Everglades… i wish you didn’t love it so much….
    I still read & enjoy your stories every day.. but, just couldn’t not write regarding kudzu…. my heart wouldn’t let me…..

  43. Marilyn Mason - September 15, 2018 6:04 pm

    You know how much I love reading your missive each day. I also love reading the replies to them from the growing faithful who read with me throughout the US. My favorite today was Sandra Swindall’s writing about having made kudzu jelly. I am still chuckling over that but admire the effort.
    Thanks Sean, for not only writing such great stories but for bringing us all together in that love of the well written word.

  44. Shelton Armour - September 15, 2018 6:21 pm

    I love down-east NC BBQ. That’s really good stuff. But good pulled pork is good anywhere.

  45. Betty - September 15, 2018 7:12 pm

    I was born & raised in WI but left there when I was 18 to go to college in MO, then worked in Chicago 4 years & the next 29 years were spent in TX where I met my AL born husband. After we retired he wanted to come back to AL so that is what we did. We’ve been here 22 years. It would have been 32 but for 8 years we traveled in a motor home all over the country. When he first brought me to AL to meet his family I was surprised at how beautiful the state is. I don’t know what I thought it would be. I will no doubt live out my days here & wouldn’t have it any other way. By the way, I never really cared for TX brisket.

  46. Katherine - September 15, 2018 7:48 pm

    Sean: I feel like I know you well enough to tell you that you are sadly mistaken about “Alabama” bbq. Obviously you have never been to Eastern North Carolina for the unique vinegar based cue at Parker’s, Bill’s, Smithfield’s, Ken’s, or Wilber’s…just to name a few of the best! Even my brother who lives in Geneva, AL and loves his adopted state knows you guys cannot compete in this category! Love you though!

  47. Shirley Gerald - September 15, 2018 9:10 pm

    You are treading heavily stomping on Texas…quit it!!!

  48. Beth - September 16, 2018 12:28 am

    This was great. I was born and raised in Alabama and so glad I am from here. I am actually from North Alabama, halfway between Birmingham and Huntsville. I really love living here. Lived other places but there is no place like Sweet Home Alabama.

  49. Linda Till - September 16, 2018 2:36 am

    Hi, Sean!
    I’m from Forest Home, Al. I live about 10 miles from I65, off 10 West–that is the Pineapple exit.
    Thanks for your writings. Hope to see you in person some day.

    • Nellie - November 11, 2018 2:00 pm

      A long time ago, I knew some Till’s and some Davis folks from Forest Home.

  50. F. Taylor - September 16, 2018 2:40 am

    I’ve always said “the devil is beating his wife” if the sun is shinning and it’s raining. Got it from my Mom. So glad to read you referring to lt. Haven’t heard it any other time.

  51. Brenda McLaine - September 16, 2018 4:20 am

    Keep on writing!

  52. Mona Robertson - September 16, 2018 3:28 pm

    I so enjoy your writings. I live in Anniston Alabama and I agree talking about things one hate is tiring. Have a great day!

  53. Jack Darnell - September 17, 2018 12:48 am

    I thought about you today as we sat on the side of I-85 as one million trucks passed within a foot of the motor home. 4 hours awaiting a lady truck driver to tow us 5 miles to this truck stop. We will meet an Alabama mech in the AM I hope that can put this coach back on the road. I keep reading about that Conecuh susage, one day I must try it. BBQ? YOu shoulda tried NC BBQ when visiting Aunt Bee! (smile)

  54. Bobby Reeder - September 17, 2018 2:07 am

    😂 All I can say is, BAM! to the Texan. 😂

  55. Steve Winfield - September 17, 2018 3:03 am

    4 years Navy I met folks from every state. Alabamians & Texans have one thing in common, both want to go home. Way more than folks from the other 48. This guy moving here from Texas is like the foreigners that move to America & want to change us. Why did you leave that BBQ? Did they run you out of Texas?
    BTW, 15 countries & 30 states & I live 300 feet from where I slept growing up.

  56. Amy - September 17, 2018 12:00 pm

    I passed Georgiana and Pine Apple myself over the weekend. In my mind, I envisioned a little girl named Georgiana and a town that was so welcoming it hurt called Pine Apple (because Pineapples represent warmth, welcome, friendship, and hospitality). Funny you should write about both in your column…great minds!

  57. Julia Dunlap - September 17, 2018 1:12 pm

    Please don’t tell everyone about beautiful Alabama. Everyone will be wanting to move here. It’s the best kept secret ever.

    Decatur, Alabama

  58. Sandy Merritt - September 17, 2018 6:22 pm

    I was raised in McKenzie, AL…love Wingard’s Produce and love Kendall’s BBQ. And LOVE the state of Alabama and of course, the football team ALABAMA. I enjoy all of your stories and I think I have all of your books. Keep up the good work.

  59. M. Overmier - September 20, 2018 10:40 pm

    Hi Sean, I’m fairly new to the blog. I started following you after my aunt (in Illinois) posted something you wrote. I love how you write. I looked up Kudzu cuz I had no idea what you meant by it swallowing a house. Holy cow! You’re right. I’m from New Mexico (which is a state in the lower 48, by the way) and Kudzu would never make it here. Not enough moisture. We have tumble weeds. We get sunshowers here too, though. They are my favorite!

    Mary Overmier – Albuquerque, NM

  60. Judy Holdren Beaver - September 21, 2018 8:33 pm

    Oh dear Sean. You just used a term that is strictly forbidden at Chester County High School in Henderson, TN. My son teaches Geometry and is being accused of being a racist. Cotton picking is a term we have used all our life but no longer. This is reverse racism if you ask me.

  61. Karen - September 25, 2018 7:37 pm

    I have lived in Alabama for 43 years. I was born in Texas, and spent a lot of years there, until I was about 20. Texas is made up of fields of bluebonnets, flat acreage, big egos, football fields, and really good barbecue. I loved Texas.
    Alabama is made up of magnolia trees, red clay, fields of corn, gas stations, and serious football fans. They also have barbecue, and it is good, but it is different from Texas. I have lived in Alabama so long that it has become my home. I love Alabama.
    I love the way you love Alabama, Sean. It doesn’t matter which state you write about or who you tell your stories about. They all come from your heart. That is what matters.

  62. Carolyn K - November 11, 2018 12:17 pm

    I’m from Tennessee and I love reading your post. Glad we met 😊

  63. Nellie - November 11, 2018 1:47 pm

    When you turn the curve to go past the old school in Pine Apple, you just passed my Grandmama’s house. Spent many days playing in the sand under the muscadine arbor and sliding down the very tall slide at the school.

  64. Mary Calhoun - November 11, 2018 9:04 pm

    Kudzu?? You know snakes love to live in that stuff. When I was a teacher one of my classrooms opened up to the outdoors. Coming back with my class from chapel there was a HUGE snake resting in front of my door. I took off running the other way as hard as I could. Several of my sixth graders attached themselves to me and ran like crazy. One student wanted to take him home, but I frantically told him NO! It was that day I found out Kudzu was a great home for snakes. YUCK!

  65. Deborah Hargis - December 6, 2018 9:15 pm

    Dear Sean, I have been an avid reader since I discovered you about a year ago when my sister (in-law, but she is like a sister to me. I think it must be a southern thing. Or maybe just because she is so sweet, and from LaGrange, GA, which I know You Know LaGrange is almost in Alabama). She and my brother divorced years ago. My Mother always said “You can join this family, but you can never divide us or leave us. You will always be family.” That has remained true. She and I are so close after all these years. Maybe it is a southern thing. I grew up in Atlanta, but have lived in or visited every southern state. I have been passed the Greenville/ Pineville exit hundreds of times. Have stopped there many times to have world class barbecue at the gas station on the East side of the exit. They also have fried green tomatoes just like my gramma used to make. Gosh, this has really gone on long for a comment. But I know you know how that is. Sometimes in writing you start one place and end up another. This was just a note to tell you how much I love your writing. I’ll be 70 years young in two weeks, and I think your writing every bit as enjoyable as Lewis Grizzard and Rick Bragg. God loves you, Sean, and so do I.


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