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Hill Country Living

Hill Country Living
By Coulter Fussell

You know what I think we need? A few more days of rain. What seems like weeks on end of thunderstorms is just not enough. Let’s make it a whole month. Or even a year! Why not? In fact, let’s go ahead and become an aquatic species.

 By the time this column is published I’m sure we would have had several days of beautiful, sunny weather because that’s how the universe likes to do me in terms of weather reporting for the paper. But let’s not forget that Easter Sunday was Biblical not just in the Jesus sense but in the Noah sense, as well.

The biggest laugh I had this week was when the city’s power went out at 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday while Wil and I were in mid-conversation over morning coffee. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t laughing for the city employees who had to spend their Easter morning dealing with all that old equipment that I’m assuming was built out of a key and kite string during the Thomas Jefferson era.

I was laughing because, at this point, I have no reactions left about the power going out. Maniacal laughter is the only reaction left. It’s freeing, honestly. Y’all should try it, if you haven’t already. The next time the power goes out, just laugh like the Joker and go on about your day.

Our extra-stormy weather also has the kids getting let out of school early these days. That pre-storm dismissal process is a fairly recent development, as when I was a kid and a tornado came through – you were going to survive or not right then and there with your fellow third graders; nothing to protect you but the collective power of Georgia History contained within the book on your head.

Back when my kids were really young and severe weather was expected to come through, I would go check them out of school on my own. I couldn’t bear the thought of my sweet babies going through a bad storm without me there to save them from a tornado with my bare hands. The irony for me is that now that I’m a seasoned parent who has acquired the “Oh, they’ll be fine” parenting attitude (as one naturally, eventually and sensibly does) there’s the new early dismissal process. Well, now I don’t need it. I don’t care as much!

I personally have no opinion about the early dismissal process other than I think they would’ve done it when I was a kid if they could have. Getting kids and teachers to safer spots is possible now due to communication and information developments. I imagine that, back in the day, if the schools had a way to more accurately track the weather and also get a hold of everyone’s parents with the click of a button, then they definitely would have used those resources to get the kids out of school and into separate, safer shelters. But, then again, it was the ‘80s and we kids were basically left to be feral back then so who knows.

 I hope that despite the rain everyone had a lovely Easter weekend. At least it’s all good for the roses!

In Dudley Wagner’s “Here, There and Else-where” column in April of 1942, he pondered why is it that people are so crazy about Water Valley.

It couldn’t be, he wrote, because the town itself is a thing of beauty. There are many towns far prettier than our own. Nor could it be on account of the climatic conditions. I do not know of any place that has a worse climate–hot as the hinges of Hades in the summer and colder than a polar bear’s icebox in winter.

Surely it couldn’t be because of “big business,” he continued. I dare say most merchants are making little more than a living.

Nor could our town be called a city of beautiful homes even though we admit a handful of lovely houses.

Then, I argued with myself, why is it people love the old town so much? Everyone born here loves it and those who have lived here and moved away always have a warm spot in their hearts for it. There must be a reason for this, surely!

Then, all of a sudden, the answer came to me. It’s on account of the folks who live here! There’s a certain spirit of friendliness in this town that does not exist anywhere else. People are kind. They have the right sort of hearts.

Water Valley folks have the milk of human kindness in their makeup. A place is judged by the kind of people who live there, so we’re told, and if that’s the case, then Water Valley stands at the head of the class.

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