By Coulter Fussell
Happy Memorial Day from New Orleans! I say that because as I write this it is Memorial Day and I am in New Orleans. When I first decided to start writing ‘Hill Country Living’ I didn’t realize how many columns I would write while not actually living in the hill country. Maybe I should have more accurately titled this column ‘Occasional Hill Country Living.’
It’s 7 a.m. and I’m at a coffee shop in the French Quarter. I just saw some tired and bored looking paramedics, moving slow as turtles, load a drunk and crying man onto a gurney. He had what was most definitely a bright red Hurricane spilled down the front of his white button up shirt. (A Hurricane is a popular local rum cocktail, for those of you pretending not to know. They are really big down here. Literally. They are huge.) And I don’t think this guy’s Hurricane spilled from his cup, if ya know what I mean.
I would like to see a thing like this and think “Oh, big city problems…” but that’s just not the case. I’m out running all over Water Valley really early most mornings and there are several regulars I pass that just don’t seem to want to let go of the night before. I get it. Friday nights are fun! But, man, are Wednesday nights also really that fun?
But they are a friendly bunch. They wave and smile at me. These guys travel alone, on foot. They are pretty sweaty and seem oddly determined to get to where they’re going. I often wonder where they came from and where they’re going and why they are doing it before 8 a.m.
But it’s perspective, I guess. I imagine they see me…always alone, on foot, sweaty and oddly determined to get to where I’m going before 8 a.m…and wonder the same thing. We’re the same. Except, unfortunately for me, I’m not carrying a beer and a Sprint Mart bag of chicken.
Last Wednesday was Davidson Elementary’s end of the year awards ceremony, marking the official start of summertime in Water Valley. Oh, sweet summertime. I like summer, I really do, but I have to figure out what to do with my kids since their surrogate parents at Davidson need a couple months off to recover from the nine-month trauma of raising our children. And the kids need a break, too. There’s only so many Flaming Hot Doritos and Getting On Yellow a kid can take before he just falls apart.
The 1st grade awards ceremony was different from the kindergarten graduation I attended last year. There was much less simultaneous recitation of nursery rhymes into a microphone and maniacal celebratory screaming from the family audience (who I always enjoy seeing…we are quite the eclectic bunch, aren’t we?) but many more awkward hand shakes and large manila envelopes. The 1st and 2nd graders were so respectful, sitting patiently and quietly through the entire ceremony. More than I can say for some of us adults. Ahem.
As a school teacher’s daughter, I have great sympathy and admiration for the work that public school teachers do. And, as we all know, this year has been extraordinarily difficult and traumatic for our teachers, administrators, and staff at Davidson. I’d like to thank them publicly for what they do. My child is in good, caring hands. He is happy, goes to school with everyone in his community, can socialize, and can read and do math. That’s exactly what I’m looking for in an education. Job well done.
If I could, I’d buy these women a round of Hurricanes! I know they need them after this year. But I also know how you school teachers can get when school lets out for summer. Better keep the paramedics on stand-by.