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If Seasons Were An Appetizer, False Fall Is The Bloomin’ Onion, Real Fall Is A House Salad

Hill Country Living
By Coulter Fussell

I thoroughly enjoyed False Fall last week. Southern weather loves too tease us with that five-day taste of faux autumn before it says “Just kidding” and puts us back in the regularly scheduled programming of dismal heat. I equate that random and singular week of pre-fall weather to, let’s say, an appetizer. But an appetizer at a place known specifically for its appetizers because Real Fall is never as good as False Fall.
Real Fall around here is typically kind of short and rainy and involves the color change and subsequent falling of 12 leaves, tops; a process which takes a total of eight minutes. Our False Fall is the Bloomin’ Onion; our Real Fall is a house salad.
I write a lot about the weather for a couple of reasons. For one, we live in Water Valley and sometimes it can be, oh shall we say, a column-topic desert. Secondly, I spend a lot of time outside and that’s where the weather is. But I’m not outside like in a noble farmer way. I spend a lot of time outside in an exercise way and a good bit of that time is spent almost losing my life on our crosswalks which is ironic considering I’m trying to extend my life by walking.
Several times a day my life flashes before my eyes at the crosswalk in front of Turnage’s Drugstore. I guess of all places to get mortally wounded the front sidewalk of Turnage’s is the best spot. The drugstore crew could be right there on scene to bandage you up, ease your pain with opiates and Mr. Binnie would make sure you went to Heaven.
What I am mainly worried about, though, are my children. My kids walk to school every day and, y’all, if I have seen a car fly past my little backpacked kids on that crosswalk once, I have seen it a hundred times. My youngest kid’s arm probably has a permanent callous on it from me snatching him back at the last second everyday so that someone can fly through the bend in Main Street only to be stopped in front of Sprint Mart 50 yards later. What it takes inside you to rev past an elementary school aged child holding a lunchbox is beyond me.
The best part is the waving. That’s such an odd phenomenon. The drivers want you to know that they recognize they’ve just run through the crosswalk. The wave is a combination of an admission of apathy and Southern manners: “Yeah, I almost killed your child in front of your eyes because I don’t wanna press my brake peddle. But good mornin’, Ma’am!”
I would love for my fifth grader to be able to walk to school alone or with pals instead of with me, his lame and embarrassing mom. But not in this town! No way! Not only is there no decent and clear walking path to the elementary school from town but y’all can’t drive! The only vehicles I can reliably count on consistently stopping at crosswalks in this town are the city trucks. If it’s a white pick-up and says “Water Valley” on the side then they’ll stop. Otherwise, it’s NASCAR out there.
I feel like it would take one day, maybe two, of a cop sitting at Railroad Park and ticketing people who drive through crosswalks to nip this. If impersonating a police officer wasn’t illegal then I’d do it myself.
And for all of you who DO stop at the crosswalks; Thank you. Y’all are the Bloomin’ Onions of our town.

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