Saturday, August 20, 2011
Each evening as I turn on my reading lamp in my bedroom in North Georgia, I hear what I like to describe as the insect apocalypse rattling against my window.
The sound of literally hundreds of moths and beetles hurling themselves against the fragile, illuminated glass pane makes me think there are a gang of nocturnal children throwing rocks to try to get my attention.
Sometimes I open my blinds and stare at the insect visitors thinking what would happen if I open my window, like a kid pressed against the glass at the lion enclosure in the zoo.
The humidity and bizarre bug life make for interesting new experiences in the Southland. Catching cockroaches in sweet tea drinking glasses and listening to the deafening sound of cicadas, which only come out every 13 years, is made even better when it is done among old churches while the sun is setting in a sleepy Southern town.
There are so many buildings featuring red brick and white columns - some classy and some rather tacky - that I half expect an 18th-century horse and carriage to pick me up and take me to the local cobbler.
When I walk through Southern grocery stores, ones with names like Piggly Wiggly, I realize that supermarkets in the Northwest could benefit from the charm of having an anthropomorphized farm animal as their logo along with a rhyming name that's so fun to say.
It also astounds me to see that the love of unhealthy foods is so pervasive in this part of the country, that the produce section in those same grocery stores features caramel dipping sauce next to the apples and frying batter next to the onions.
I shouldn't complain though really. I love Southern foods. If I had the recipe for sweet potato crunch I'd share it with you, but I'm lazy and I never looked it up. The heat gets to you down here.
One thing that is constantly on my mind in this part of the country is the Civil War, especially in the sound of the wind whispering in the trees. As I walked through Andersonville, a prisoner of war camp for Union soldiers where hundreds died of disease and starvation, I was saddened by the tremendous loss of life many Southern towns endured.
The Confederate flags that fly in the some of the graveyards of these towns seemed offensive at first, but I soon realized that many rebel soldiers who died in Civil War battles are buried here and so lie peacefully under the flag of the last country they knew on this earth. It might be the only appropriate use I have seen for such a divisive symbol as the Stars and Bars, certainly more so than the dozen or so bumper stickers on pickup trucks that drive along the country roads near my house.
Maybe this week I can convince the insects outside my room to fly into his window instead of mine. I can only wish.
Martin Surridge is a former area resident who was a student at Walla Walla University before moving to Georgia. This is the second of a two-part column. The first part ran Aug. 14.