Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unsurprisingly, Mississippi is Different. Here's a few ways.

This is a partial list, put together in limited time since I'm on my lunch break. Hopefully I'll get to do another post later tonight that'll have some more information about my travel plans. For now, enjoy!

-Weird thing #1: Rain. Yeah, Wisconsin gets its fair share, but we're in the middle of a drought right now and have been for months. When it rains in WI these days it is a big honking deal. When it rains in Mississippi it's the fourth time in a week. The rain here will sidle up to you and casually drizzle, it'll fall steadily for hours, it'll dump a cloudburst on your head like your hair was on fire. It's insane. It's like this state has never heard of what we so quaintly call 'droughts'.

-Dampness. Related to that (and concurrently to humidity), nothing wet ever gets dry, nothing. Towels, swimsuits, washcloths, shoes, shirts, I don't care. You can hang them up for as long as you feel like it, but they will never actually be dry. They'll just linger indefinitely in a state of perpetual clamminess. Putting on one of those swimsuits or towels is like getting a big hug from a kelp forest. This applies somewhat to paper, too; when it's particularly humid in your room, regular paper will feel thick, rough and slightly damp to the touch. It's not my hand, as far as I can tell, but the paper collecting moisture. Unless there's a heater going in your room, that's what you're stuck with (and what kind of nut would have that?)

-Vines. Speaking of forests, Mississippi has climbing vines absolutely EVERYWHERE. Our campus is in the neighborhood of forty acres, around 1/3 to 1/2 of which is forest by my unscientific speculations, and I have yet to see a tree that is completely free of vines. They go up a hundred feet and look like they've been there for years. And this isn't just ivy, either; these bastids have woody stems. I guess a lot of it is kudzu, which is apparently a huge problem down here. According to one of the staff members, some idiot introduced it to get rid of rats, because there's some chemical that kudzu produces that drives away rats. Well, now the South is short on rats but long on kudzu. Good job. (EDIT UPDATE: There are a few kudzu-free trees; well, more than a few. The kudzu-ridden ones tend to be the bigger, older trees; younger ones, especially ones that stand on their own and aren't near a grove or forest, generally escape. Ditto foreign-looking trees. But it's still extremely pervasive.)

-The casinos are a huge letdown. I mean, yes, they are incredibly impressive; the Ameristar casino downtown (no relation to Americorps) has an enormous complex on-shore and off, its own hotel across the road and its own miniature town that people can wander through and spend bucketloads of money in. There are three other casinos that I've seen so far with similar layouts, although none of them are quite as impressive. It's just that I was kind of expecting the Romantic image of the casino-boat actually sailing up and down the river and having a grand party every weekend. The Ameristar looks like it hasn't moved from the dock in years, and most of the others look more like buildings than boats.

-The bugs. We have truckloads of weird bugs that I've never seen before; the campus is infested with fire ants, for example, so none but a fool or madman goes with bare feet into the grass. (Said grass is also sharp and looks like crabgrass across most of the fields, so there's another reason.) We have these big black beetles, maybe 1 1/2 inches long, that are actually pretty friendly; one of them put up with being lifted up by a stick and examined before being returned to its home. We have roaches, of course, and there are plenty of ticks and chiggers in the woods. (Who named those things, anyway?) For the capper, I have no idea what species it is or even a clear image of what it looks like, but there's some sort of giant red wasp that's buzzed me a couple times. I would love to know who that is, what it's about and how we can come to some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement where I don't get murdered in my bed.


Anonymous said...

Interesting and informative - my son will be heading there this August, so we're trying to get all the info we can. :) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Bugs are what I get really worried about. Let's see how I will do.

Andy said...

To be honest, the fire ants turned out to be more ballyhooed than they warranted. Yeah, they're in lots of places, but if you don't go barefoot in the fields you'll probably be fine. I had my fair share of bites from various insects, but they were never more than an annoyance. Are you going to Vicksburg for NCCC and/or FEMA Corps? If so, mazel tov!

Post a Comment