Monday, August 1, 2011
TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS
A little bit of rain this evening after a lightly overcast day. Just enough rain to freshen the air. A call from Atlanta today complaining of 100 there. I don't think the temperature left the 70s today. Despite complaints of hot house flowers, the summer has been notably mild. From what I hear on weather news the Piedmont has been roasting pretty well. When it's 80 here, it's 90 there. This is, after all, the South. Air conditioning has us spoiled. A lot of people in the mountains won't use AC, not even in the car. I'm one. A fan is plenty. When it's too hot for a fan, it's time to lay under a shade tree with a dog. It's part of living on earth. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. I've never known it otherwise.
For suburban folks doing better living electrically, keeping the house at a constant temperature year round, round the clock, getting in the car with AC in the garage, opening the garage door with a device, leaving the car within a moment's walking distance of the next door to enter where it's air conditioned. No more than a moment outside in the untamed elements. If it had been raining, our subject wouldn't even have needed an umbrella. The people who are acclimatized to 72 degrees round the clock and round the year would quite naturally find 80s unbearably hot. I've an idea an awful lot of people will be cutting back on the AC from here on with electrical and every other kind of bill on the steady rise and income on the steady decline with inflation. David at Radio Shack said he is selling tv antennae again. People going back to the basic networks. It's been found out that 100 times nothing is nothing. For a whole lot less you can have 2 or 3 times nothing. At my house, it's 0 times nothing.
I came to the mountains to live in the mountains, to experience the elements, the wind, the air, the uneven ground. There are actually certain urban people who get the equivalent of car sick walking on the ground. I keep windows and door open all summer. I like sitting here at the desk and seeing a stream of cloud pass through, in the window and out the door opposite, on days when it's a dense fog. How many places can you live where a cloud flows through the house? I came to the mountains to live in the elements. I want the air in the house to feel damp when it's raining outside. If I were to design a house for myself, I'd have wide overhangs of the roof all around like in SE Asia, and keep windows open when it rains. Every kind of weather that occurs in the mountains, I came to the mountains to experience. I came here for a mountain experience, not a television experience.
What I've seen since coming to the mountains was the mountain way of life going away. My response to it is the same as other older folks I know, stay at home. The culture isn't the same any more, a lot of times I don't recognize where I am among the subdivisions and new houses everywhere. Used to be able to go to the Nile on the New River and drink beer, but can't do that anymore. The mountain people stay to themselves. What the world of exurbanites moving into the county don't see except politically, is mountain people living among each other same as before, just out of sight to the new people who pay them no mind. People from Away complain about nothing to do. Mountain people I know never complain of nothing to do. There are archery tournaments every weekend, fishing in the river from a flat-bottom boat. Just about every county has its square-dance place. About every county has a fiddler's convention. Gospel groups pass through here, some of the best bluegrass on the charts comes through here.
The Hillbilly Show in Sparta is coming up in the middle of October, the 15th. This is a mountain specific entertainment. It's mountain people making mountain people laugh. What mountain people think is funny doesn't entertain the incoming middle class. It's working class humor. The working class and the middle class are entirely separate cultures like Cuban culture and German culture. Every time somebody from Away has gone to the Hillbilly Show on my recommendation, they leave during the intermission. Gotta get back to let the dog out. I look at the audience and it's all working people. The show is the humor of people who haven't let their morality go, or their sense of decency. It's decent comedy for people of largely Baptist background, at least parents or grandparents were. Decent people. Not smug, pious people by any means. Just plain decent people that like to dine at all-you-can eat seafood places like the Mountain Surf, or at Aynt Bea's. Parents and grandparents with younguns and grandyounguns all over the country, all over the world.
I came into this world of the mountain people from the world that had already lost its morality. The older people of the mountains are seeing the younger people lose their morality worse from generation to generation. It concerns them mightily, but their only recourse is resignation. It's the prophecy come to pass. The best the older folks feel they can do is stay at home, go to church, eat sometimes at the Circle L or the Mountain Surf, the rest of the time stay home and watch gospel television. I see this especially in Asian films, story after story of the changes from one generation to the next, living with the generation gaps that are changing as fast as here in the mountains. Traditions breaking down. The old ways of manual labor replaced by machines replaced by computers replaced by whatever comes next. Everything that is happening "out there" is happening "in here" too, by television, by this, by that. The whole world is in growing pains, maybe birth pains. Traditional cultures are breaking down everywhere. Mountain people that go to the Hillbilly show get a good laugh and hear some good music, remembering them times when people thought something of one another.