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"A place can have its charms even if it's Fierce for most of every day."

I first encountered humidity in my early twenties, when I finally travelled East of Idaho. Around about North Platte, Nebraska I noticed an unease crawling down my back and wondered out loud what I was experiencing. My partner named it, prompting me to ask why anyone would ever tolerate this stuff. I came to realize that more than half of this country sweltered through half of each year, that The Founding Fathers fought for ownership of a country that smelled like the inside of an old leather suitcase. Our frock-coated forebears' stiff collars wicked sweat and so did the dainty petticoats of their whalebone corseted spouses. Over the following two years, I came to know humidity more intimately than I really cared to. I learned how it can magnify a sultry sun's rays to produce what the locals referred to as Sun Poisoning, a skin blistering not even ice baths soothe.

Our years in DC left me with a deep respect for wet blanket weather.
Funguses and molds thrive in it, but I've never come to terms with it. I know to stay out of the midday sun, even when shaded and swathed with a havelock and long sleeves. It saps the will first, leaving me lethargic and unenthused. I filled my childhood summertimes with outside activity, for ours was a dry heat with negligible humidity. Late in the evening, the lawns would exhale and moisten my world, leaving a satisfying chill. I learned to associate moisture in the air with cooling comfort, a swamp cooler blowing sweet spring water cool into a desiccated room, so I felt especially humiliated when first encountering this passive-aggressive first cousin of summer.

The thermometer reads eighty five, but it feels more like Hell out there this morning as I sit in a neighborhood bakery along St Charles Street in New Orleans. I'd tromped over from our rental to find a bookstore, but felt spent halfway. I feel about twice my age beneath this Fierce sky furnace. I ache to experience the gentility of this southern city, but figure I must wait for sunset or get out earlier in the day, reserving midday for inside activities. "What did you do today?," The Muse will wonder when she returns this evening. "I cowered inside, hiding from the fierceness outside," I might well reply.

Lest this story seem like a rant, I will register a deep appreciation for this weather for slowing me down. I could scramble sound this town like a manic tourist, checking items off my bucket list and miss this place's subtle beauties. The soft side streets shaded by moss-drenched Live Oak. The marvelous antebellum mansions secreted throughout The Garden District. The rumbling streetcars slowing to accept another passenger on the island halfway across this broad boulevard. The murmur of language softened by casual inflection. The great blessing of a perfect croissant in a walk-in neighborhood bakery. The much less than frantic rhythm of this great city, where I watch the superstructures of ocean-going ships slip by over an overweening sea wall. We grilled fresh gulf fish over lump charcoal last night, drinking chilled rose and extroverting the day long into a sweet Southern evening. A place can have its charms even if it's Fierce for most of every day.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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