It’s been hot in southwest Mississippi lately. It’s been hot in southwest Mississippi for approximately the last 22,000 years but I’m concerned with a more recent block of time, specifically the fifteen weeks since I moved here. I do not include in this discussion the week or so a year when you can sit in your un-air-conditioned living room without sweating a hole through the carpet.
With my above-average map-reading skills, I have been aware for some time of the relative proximity to me of a large body of ocean water, which, I thought, could provide a degree of relief from the Mississippi heat if I were to take off most of my clothes and romp in it. So yesterday, Calvin and I gathered our flip-flops, packed ourselves into the truck, and headed south.
If we had continued in a straight line southward we would have been in a swamp, and being in a swamp would not have solved the heat-relief problem. We therefore took a left turn onto Interstate 12 in Louisiana, which led us out of Louisiana to a succession of towns along Mississippi’s coast.
The beaches lay enticingly close to the road. Gentle waves tickled the shore and glistened under the sun mere steps beyond narrow white stripes of fine sand.
We passed Bay Saint Louis and Pass Christian and Long Beach, each with its harbor full of pleasure craft and shrimp boats. We continued to Gulfport, Mississippi’s second largest city with a population around 70,000. President Ford stopped there during his 1976 reelection campaign.
It was east of Gulfport that the water called to us. We parked, donned those flip-flops, and grabbed the beach towels we had just bought at Family Dollar, having neglected to bring any from home.
Unable to contain my glee I trotted across the silky beach, ripping my shirt from my torso as I moved. The water beckoned.
Ah, the water.
I believe, after feeling the water at the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi yesterday, that area restaurant chefs must not need to cook the fish on their menus because the fish are already poached when pulled from the water. The water yesterday caused me to sweat.
Maybe, I thought, if I get deeper into the water it will be cooler, thereby rendering the romp more effective. I waded and waded – my best guess is that I waded out about six miles toward Havana – and the water never reached my knees.
Maybe, I thought, if I splash the water up to my face and shoulders some cooling sensation will be generated. My reasoning was in error.
Today I will attempt to achieve heat relief in the six-foot kiddie pool I bought last week at Walmart for $12.99. The water will be cold and it will not require a tank of gas to reach it, and I do not mind that my pool has pictures of circus animals on it.