Focused on Mississippi: Rain in the Delta


GREENVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – The Delta is flat. You can see a long ways off. Which means on wet, cold, winter days, you can see gloom for miles and miles. Gloom and fog.

The most fun you can have on a Delta winter day like this is to go inside, if you can. If you can’t, just endure it and make the most of it. That enduring-trying to put a silver lining on edgeless clouds perhaps led to some of what the Delta is known for. 

Two quick examples, One: anyone who is a fan of Delta blues music could almost instinctively take one look at this landscape and unquestionably comprehend how blues music could be born here, the underscore of a life lived out against this wet and cold and almost colorless canvas that is the Delta on a winter day. Yet there is a beauty in this blandness, a rhythm in the shapes and symmetry of the things around you, things that also seem to be waiting out winter.

And then, Two: back in Greenville High School we had an English literature teacher explained her theory why there are so many poets and novelist from England, because it is so foggy and dreary there that people have to look inside themselves for some imaginary life and develop story creating almost second nature.

About the time she was telling us about dreary old England, I looked out the classroom window and saw something that kind of looked like this and made me think that perhaps that’s why so many writers and poets come from the Delta, people having to image color and sunshine for themselves that isn’t really there on wet winter days.

And that same teacher told us you could stand on almost any street corner in Greenville and pitch a rock and hit the house of a writer. Then coming to herself, seeing whom she was talking to went on to say but don’t really do that.

So we never pitched rocks, but we endured bland winter days and appreciate the futility of levees that trap water in as much as keep it out in rainy winter and developed the knack of extracting the pretty from the plainness. It’s always there.

And we came to understand that the sun always comes out again, sooner or later. Even in the Delta.

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