Mississippi [and the fiery pine beards]

{A while back, I thought I had a good chance of writing a book — just something that allowed me to process life as it changes so quickly. Then I realized how hard it was to write a book and constantly assuming I didn’t have that much to say. This is an intro I wrote about my home state. It’s nothing special, but it’s part of my history. As we grow with this blog and food cart project, story will be woven in and out — the way it should be. Every dish has a history.  Enjoy.}

I loved when Fall came to the South.

The few but large pine trees in my front yard would lose their brown needles and drop like used bottle rockets all over our fading green grass. Of course, this called for a good day or so of raking just to get them all up and into one big pile. Generally, we consolidated them into a big mound cautiously close to our house.

Anyone who understands dead pine needles knows how good and fast they burn. Like the inside of a baseball glove or freshly cut grass, the smell of burning pine needles brings me to a deep and comforting place.  The sight of curly red pine embers glow like a fiery beard upon the face of my memories.

Thick roots broke up the ground in our front yard. I tripped plenty of times playing as a kid while trying to regain the breath that was knocked out of me. Our grass grew in the summertime like kudzu off them Georgia highways. We had a leaky water pipe leading up to our house that sprouted the most obviously green line of grass you’d ever seen.

Summer is hot.
Not Texas hot. Not even Africa hot.
I’m talkin’ about Mississippi hot.
We have what my dad calls, “wet heat.” When the humidity is at eighty-five percent, we’re thankful.  It’s been compared to breathing through a washcloth, though I wouldn’t go to that extreme. It’s pretty remarkable to be able to sweat without actually doing a damn thing.

All of these things matter in a place.  If we didn’t have that humidity, we wouldn’t have those 4 o’clock thunderstorms and what is Mississippi without watching a thunderstorm from your front porch.

It’s hot, but we generally migrate to and from places through means of air-conditioning. There’s no leisure walking unless you’re absolutely bent on getting in some exercise. You’ll understand this when it’s 9:00PM and you’re sweating  just by sitting on your doorstep. Trust me, my body knows how to cool down and sweating has always been a noble and liberal quality of mine.

When the sun leaves, another world comes to life.

The cicadas sing in rhythm to the crickets while the mud frogs hum the bass line.  It gets loud at times, but like most noisy environments, one gets used to it and eventually, becomes a comfort among most changing variables.  It is nearly impossible to describe these sounds without having you understand it in the middle of a hot and muggy night – brushing away the mosquitoes that always seem to know how to get stuck in your ears.

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