Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Part 1: living in the rural south — a love/hate relationship


The first key to understanding life in the south, particularly rural parts of the south, is understanding the weather. You can thank, or blame, the weather for practically all things southern.

There are generally two season here in the south — Summer and Winter, that's it, just those two. Spring and Fall never really visit the south. Instead we have what can only be compared to a menopausal woman. One day it's 80 degrees and the next day the temperature never rises above 50. Nope, we're left with Summer and Winter and roller coaster days that fall in between the two.

Summers in the south are hot, I mean HOT!!! Folks from Arizona and New Mexico, who face 120 degree days come to the south and melt. Southerners are blessed with an ever-present sauna, just outside their front door. One step outside and immediately your hair is curled and your glasses are fogged up.

There are some prissy southern ladies who like to say that we are accustomed to the heat and don't sweat, but merely glisten. BULLSHIT! I don't care if you've been born and raised down here, there is no getting accustomed to living life in a steam room and even the most refined ladies SWEAT! Fortunately, your clothes hang damn with the humidity anyway so you can almost get away with telling the "I don't sweat, I glisten" whopper!

Even the rain is afraid of the heat. We have two types of rain during the summer here in the south - sprinkles and gully-washers. Sprinkles are just that, little drops of water that leave polka dots on the pollen covering your car and hit the pavement with a sizzle, causing the steam to rise. Gully-washers are exactly what the name describes - torrential downpours that flood the ditches and swoosh violently through the gullies, creating their own, new gullies as the parched earth is unable to soak up the sudden deluge that most often comes when a hurricane passes through or a severe thunderstorm springs up in a cloudless sky. Your only warning that a storm is approaching is the leaves of the trees. When they suddenly look silver, the wind exposing the bottom sides of the leaves, take cover, a storm is coming, even if the sky is bright blue as far as you can see.

I should also point out that whenever any amount of rain falls in the rural south, the air is suddenly filled with the aroma of cow shit. Don't ask me why.

Winters in the south would most likely be considered fall in other parts of the country. They are mild and wet. Unlike the summer where you may go three months without seeing so much as a sprinkle, winters generally bring a number of gully-washers, which frequently lapses into what seems like a 40 day flood. Every so often the sky will spit out a dusting of snow, but most likely you will go to bed to the sounds of a gully-washer and awake to the cracking of limbs as the weight of ice pulls them down, taking the power lines with them.

Displaced yankees laugh when we close down the world over an inch of snow, but it doesn't take long for them to realize why. 1) The snow is always hiding an inch of ice glazing the road surface. Go ahead and scrape it away to expose the glass-like slip and slide! 2) It really is true what they say, southerners can't drive on that shit! Oh, don't get me wrong, we can tear down a backwoods, dirt farm road at 70 mph without knocking a berry off a bush or spilling a drop of beer, but we can't go thirty feet on the white stuff without ending up in a ditch!

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