Thursday, July 29, 2021

understanding place

"To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi."

So said William Faulkner.

I do not know about the Mississippi part of that sentiment. But I think I know exactly what the Sage of Yoknapatawpha County meant when he wrote it.

While I was finishing up my daily walk on the house's upper terrace this evening, I started wondering how Faulkner would understand the village I call home. I do not know about Faulkner's reference to Mississippi because I have not spent a night there. Unlike the secessionist arc of states from Texas to Florida where I have spent quite a bit of time, my visits to Mississippi (just like prosperity) have simply been passing through to someplace else.

That is too bad because Mississippi, if Faulkner is to believed, is one of the regions where People of Place live. They seem to draw their very essence from the soil as much as any grand crus from its terroir.

I have been sticking close to home for the past two days. On my trip north, I developed a rather nasty allergic reaction to something that masqueraded as a summer cold. I did not think much about it until I returned to Mexico and received an email from two friends here. They too had been fighting what they assumed to be persistent colds. When the coughing did not let up, they went to a local lab and tested positive for The Virus.

They suggested that our group should get tested just in case we had been infected. I put it off until yesterday.

The vines in my patio tend to get out of control while I am gone. So, Wednesday, while Dora was here to watch me fall off off the ladder, I started pruning. I had almost completed the third of four planters, and was at the top of the ladder. Without warning, my head felt as if it had gone into orbit in advance of the billionaire astronauts. Everything was in a multi-G-force spin.

Fortunately, I made my way down the ladder, put away my tools, and put myself to bed where I slept away 5 hours of the afternoon and 10 hours of the night. (I usually get no more than 5 hours total each night.)

Because I was still weak this morning, I trundled off to a local lab to get my too-long-neglected covid test. My procrastination did not cost me (or the people I had been in contact with) anything. The test was negative for covid. And, oddly, my cough was gone. By the afternoon, I had my strength back. What has not gone away is some immediate bowel issues. Thus, my walking was restricted to the upper terrace.

While I was up there, Barra de Navidad experienced one of those sunsets that I doubt are seen Jackson. Maybe in Biloxi. But it was not the sunset that caught my immediate attention.
One thing this area shares with Mississippi is heat and humidity. At 9:33 in the evening here, it is 84 degrees with 82% humidity. In Jackson, it is 82 degrees and 88% humidity. We are almost kissin' cousins.

In this heat at this time of night, sounds carry. For the past two nights, I thought the vector control trucks were on their assassin rounds to bring the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes under control. We have had a surge of dengue here -- along with a wave of Delta variant infections. 

But I was wrong. There were no spray trucks killing off the insect population. When I listened carefully, I knew exactly what the sound was. The song of cicadas. Or, as my Colombian cousin Patty more-poetically describes them -- exploding crickets (blowing up jiminy cricket).

Every year about this time, they emerge from the soil, sluff off their larval carcasses, and fly off to sing their Reddy Kilowatt songs to attract mates for the next reproduction cycle.

I could almost imagine a modern-day Dilsey Gibson returning home from his law office and sitting down under a Spanish moss-bearded oak in his back yard to watch the last streaks of purple disappear below the horizon while he listened to cicadas imparting their buzzing wisdom accumulated over thousands of years to be imparted from one of God's creatures to another in a place where people had lived for generations and relied on the other strengths that God gives those who love his creation and the creatures in it.*

It made me happy tonight.

* -- My homage to Faulkner. Mrs. Richardson did leave her mark on me.    

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