Certain expressions were pure Arkansas. To spill something was to "tump it over." Something misaligned or out of place was "womperjawed." Like the best slang, no translation was ever required.
Her mother's deadliest insult was "country-come-to-town," to signify, well, a redneck buffoon.
I do think there's an innate wisdom and modesty in reminding ourselves how close we are to nature, and how like the animals. That simplicity's the soul of Southern wit.
Alas, defunct metaphors wither into cliches. Saying somebody's "kicking up their heels" doesn't convey much to somebody who's never seen a herd of cows turned into a new pasture. To observe that somebody's "grinning like a mule eating briars" merely sounds affected if there's nary a mule for three counties around.
Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.