To be, rather than to seem

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Being new to the area and still trying to get settled, there are things about the state and communities that I am still learning.

With my wife, Stephanie, and I being avid gardeners and &uot;yard people&uot;, she recently asked me about the state flower of North Carolina. In Alabama, we had the camellia and she wanted to make sure that we had the official flower of North Carolina planted in the yard at our new house.

Not knowing what the official flower was, I started researching and discovered that the official state flower of North Carolina is the dogwood. Needless to say, that fact pleased both of us. As I researched, I also learned that North Carolina has a long list of official state symbols. I mentioned to her that we could not leave out the official state wildflower, the Carolina lily.

The fact that the official Northeastern North Carolina Watermelon Festival is the Watermelon Festival in Murfreesboro should make everyone in this area proud. That designation was made official by the state General Assembly in 1993.

It is probably common knowledge that the state tree is the pine and the state bird is the cardinal, but did you know that the official state beverage is milk? Makes sense to me, being a consumer of large amounts of milk.

We are also represented by a large number of animals. The official state dog is the Plott Hound (the only breed known to have originated in the state) and the official state insect is the honey bee while the eastern box turtle is designated as the official state reptile. Don’t forget the gray squirrel, which is the state mammal, and the channel bass as the official state fish. While you are fishing for the channel bass, you can use the official state boat, which is the shad boat. While fishing for channel bass in your shad boat, you might come across the official state shell, the scotch bonnet.

Some of the symbols made me scratch my head. The official state red berry is the strawberry and the official state blue berry is, you guessed it, the blueberry. While the official vegetable is the sweet potato and the state fruit is the scuppernong.

The North Carolina official state stone is the beautiful emerald, not to be confused with the official state rock, which is granite.

As I was going through the list of the official state symbols, I came across the state motto. The motto was adopted by the state General Assembly in 1893 and is &uot;Esse Quam Videri.&uot; The Latin translation is &uot;to be rather than to seem.&uot; What exactly that means is up to debate and I think all of you can decide what the motto really means to you.

However, in the few months that I have been a resident of North Carolina, that motto makes all the sense in the world to me.