Monday, January 19, 2009

Late-Breaking News

Well, what do you know. Memphis is in Tennessee, just as Chuck Berry claimed. In the southwest corner of it, on the Mississippi. And what's more -- late-breaking news! -- the state of Tennessee extends all the way to the Mississippi! and it sits square on top of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, like a lintel.

(How, how can I have looked at maps of the US over and over and not really seen this? It's seeming downright spooky to me, now.)

And Columbia is, in fact, the state capitol of South Carolina, plumb in the center of the state. It sounds like a lovely little city. Memphis, to tell the truth, sounds like something of a hell-hole. But my responses to the South are all tinged with my horror of hot, humid weather. So are my responses to the East Coast, for that matter. I moved to Connecticut in late August, some 25 years ago, and could not believe that human beings voluntarily lived in such a climate. It was clearly simply uninhabitable. I was appalled to find that it did not get cooler at night. I had never lived in place that didn't cool down at night, and it gave me the horrors. It was as if the laws of physics didn't work there. In the daytime you moved through a miasma of hot, thick, soupy air, full of weird brown stuff. And if you opened a window at 3:00 AM and took a deep breath, you took a deep breath of -- hot, thick, soupy air, full of weird brown stuff. God. I still shudder to think of it.

(One good thing about it is, that I vowed that upon my return to a civilized climate I would never complain about hot weather again; and since I moved back to western Oregon, twenty years ago, I never have. There is no such thing as hot weather here. Weather that once would have made me fretful and cranky now leaves me placid and smiling. I know that I have only to wait till 3:00 AM to draw a breath of cool, pleasant air. Life is good.)

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