August 1, 2014 10:28:14 AM
There is a video that has gone viral that shows a Copperhead snake that has just been decapitated.
The snake's body continues to writhe and wriggle as the head lays motionless near its body. The snake's body makes contact with its head several times, then -- and this is what made the video viral -- the snake's head suddenly sinks its fangs deep into its own body. You can see the body flinch from the strike. The snake never lets go, either. A person in the video finally pries the snake's head of its body after both are motionless.
That's a pretty good metaphor for a Mississippi summer. Just when you think summer is over, when you are certain you have seen it in its death throws, it turns around and bites you.
By the calendar, we have 52 days of summer remaining, since the seasons are defined by lengths of days and nights. The autumnal equinox occurs in the northern hemisphere on Sept. 22 this year, which is the "official" end of summer and beginning of fall.
There are other ways we measure the seasons, though, and by those standards summer ends and fall begins long before Sept. 22.
Public schools open this week, a sure sign of fall and the end of summer vacations. Football teams, bands and cheerleaders are busy getting ready for the fast-approaching season.
To date, we've had a wetter, cooler summer than normal. The month of June was particularly wet while July has been almost three degrees cooler in Mississippi than is the norm. The average 24-hour temperature in Mississippi this July was in the high 70s, depending on where you live in the state.
Strangely, we do not feel cheated.
We acknowledge that for many of us, the attitude toward Mississippi summers is that it is to be endured. We reason summer is the debt we must pay for the mild winters, glorious springs and crisp falls. We are prepared to pay that debt. It is our duty to pay it. We shouldn't complain, we know.
For anyone has endured a Mississippi summer at its most punitive, it is understandable we would want to rush on to fall without considering the many wonderful things that come with the season.
Then one day we will discover, sadly, that the only tomatoes or watermelons we can find are in the grocery store and have about as much flavor as a rice cake. Then, we will be sorry that summer has come and gone and all we did was complain about it. We will miss the lush green of the forests and lawns, the pleasure of a shade tree on a steamy July afternoon, the thunderstorms that roll in and drown the dust of summer.
But it is not too late yet to enjoy the benefits of the season. We encourage everyone to make the most of the summer we have remaining. Take a walk at the Riverwalk, Propst Park or Lee Park. Spend some time near the water at Lake Lowndes, the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge or along the Tombigbee or Luxapalila. Explore the nearby woods and forests and countrysides. Heck, take an early evening stroll down your street and nod to the neighbors you see along the way. Sit on a porch and enjoy a drink.
Do all those things summer is especially suited for. It won't be summer much longer and it sure seems a shame to waste such a mild one.
Enjoy, but be careful. The summer may have been harmless to date, but we have been around long enough to know that, like that copperhead, it can still turn around and bite us yet.
1. Voice of the people: Mayor Robert E. Smith Sr. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
3. Ray Mosby: Why community newspapers matter LOCAL COLUMNS