So we are in Milledgeville Georgia in our favourite campground on the riverside. It’s actually chilly because the whole polar vortex/former pacific hurricane has caught up with us but it has been considerably moderated traveling over the continent to where we are. The high today is forecast to be 54F/12C. Sweater weather. Our trip from Alabama to Georgia was interesting. What struck me was as soon as we crossed the border we began seeing pillars, arches and artwork. This is not to say that we did not see such things in northern Alabama, but Georgia clearly takes special pride in the their pursuit of neoclassical architectural highlights. Even the poorest trailer park had porches with Greekish pillars.
Last night we attended a play put on by the local society. It is comedy set in Tennessee, a traveling singing family, and most of the jokes centred around how uncultured but musical the good mountain people are. There was also a lot of warm fuzzy, “we are all Americans in this together” stuff too. And of course endless bible quotes and talk of Jesus. There was a medley of Christmas around the world that was hilarious because it was so appallingly ignorant that even the Americans understood it was a parody of the widespread ignorance of the outside world Americans are famous for. A people who can make fun of themselves will never do poorly.
The church was lined with historical photography and I was looking at the pictures during intermission and a local woman approached. She proudly told me she had been born and raised here. She asked me for my impressions and I commented on all the pillars. She went on to give me a detailed explanation about how every town of any note in Georgia has a distinctive form of this architectural highlight.
“And we ca-ah them caw-lumns not pill-ahs, dear.”
Milledgeville has the distinction of combining Doric columns with Iconic scrollwork. I wondered if the Greeks would approve. She then went on to describe three other towns’ inferior distinctive style in terminology I had only the vaguest awareness of.
She apologized about the cold and I remarked how my husband and I had gone for a walk the night before because the air was so fresh and lovely. I did not mention how much we felt we needed that walk after a typical deep fried everything dinner. We actually took food home there was so much, and we were so stuffed. When I say deep fried everything I am not kidding. Even the pickles were deep fried.
She laughed, delighted with this example of northern hardiness. She was suitably impressed with Canadian tolerance of cold since, as far as she was concerned, the evening before had been so cold as to be unfit for man or beast. She then made this funny wistful comment about how fragile southerners must seem to me. I replied with what has become a standard reply for me. It invariably delights southerners.
“Yes, but in Canada as soon as the temperature goes above 80F [27C] people begin to wilt and the radio and TV have warnings on how to avoid heat stroke, so it is all what you are used to.”
By then we were part of a group as several more of these aging Southern Belles had joined our circle and my comment brought delighted twitters about the poor fragile northerners.
“Why, we don’t even say hot here, until it’s at least 90 dahgreez!”
They asked what part of Canada I was from and I said Winnipeg. That brought the usual blank stares. I added north of North Dakota. I saw a slight reduction in number of blank faces. One of the women commented about how her next door neighbour, one of the university people, was from up north as well, somewhere in Ohio. They took me to the refreshment table and I asked what a particular funny looking cookie was and they tittered again and told me it was a “corn wire” cookie, a southern delicacy. I purchased one to help support their theatre group and tasted it. Corn, salt, sweet and American processed cheese, deep fried to fluffy flakes. Ah yes, the south, land of the extra wide rocking chairs. They were delighted as I exclaimed how good the cookie was while I worried how many calories that one cookie meant. I actually detest American processed cheese but the cookie was salty enough I could barely taste the cheese. As I ate the cookie, I got many more lessons in the wonders of the illustrious history of Milledgeville, which has been present since Georgia was first settled by Europeans, and how it was once the capital of Georgia. I didn’t bring up the Africans by whose forced labor much of this settlement occurred. That was over a hundred years ago and really shouldn’t matter anymore. I looked around and there was not one black face in the audience so although one can see many blacks among the “university people”, in the stores and in restaurants you are as likely to be served by a black as a white, some separations remain here in the south. Such separation are the exceptions now, and not the rule and their bastions are aging. I saw almost no young people, except for a few grandchildren accompanying a family member, and the median age of the players was above my own. All the more reason to not bring up the past in this polite and charming company.
Overall I must say I do love Georgia. I wish we could stay longer. But I’ll skip the heat though. Manitoba summers are hot enough.
I am including some pictures of a particularly stunning bit of Georgian art we came across on our trip. It is family watching murmuration represented by a twirling wind chime decorated with metal birds. I was stunned by the beauty and joyousness of the piece set in a park with multiple columns (not pillars).