Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Just remembering this morning the time that I visited rural Georgia, back in the autumn of 1994. I arrived in Atlanta, then drove a rented car to Macon, the setting for the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. God forsaken Macon, I called it at the time, for it seemed to have been shouldered to the side on the road of progress and become even sleepier than depicted in the novel. From Macon, I headed south into the cotton fields. I had never before seen cotton as it grows on the plant.... I stopped on the road and picked some tufts of cotton and the air was filled with these specific little flying bugs that apparently have a special fondness for cotton fields, and for one's own neck and shirt collar. I was just newly separated from my second wife at that time. Suddenly I could say what I want, go where I want, stop where I want, think what I want. Freedom and the flat plains of southern Georgia seemed to breathe a mutual sigh of relief and serenity. Here and there along the road I came upon the stands of boiled peanut sellers, a great favorite in the deep south. I bought a bag from a man who spoke with a Georgia accent so thick that he may as well have been speaking kampung Indonesian. I couldn't understand a word he said - and here I was at home, in my own country, America. From thence, I visited the Civil War site of Andersonville prison, where many hundreds of Union soldiers had died from disease, starvation and want of medical treatment. It was unnaturally quiet, deserted, barren, telling, in the land, the air, the limpness of the breeze no hint of what had happened there. I stayed the night in a nearby town, the name of which I do not remember, and then headed east the next morning to Savannah - which is a story of its own.

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