August is officially here, along with the muggy dog days of summer, and we are all pretty much melting into a puddle of ourselves here in Alabama. Yet despite the air conditioning thrumming out blessed cold air into darkened rooms with blinds and curtains pulled tight against the harsh summer sunlight, our porch, small as it may be, still beckons my family and I to leave behind our cool comfort for a while and sit a spell in the heat.
In yesteryear, before the advent of air conditioning, the porch was the best place to escape sweltering oven-like interiors; a shady spot in which one had a heightened opportunity to catch a blessed breeze or an afternoon snoozer. While we southerners no longer seek it out as a daily refuge from the swelter, it is still the best place to linger with our loved ones on an over-heated afternoon. Gentle rocking, the tinkle of ice melting in a glass of tea or lemonade, a trickle of sweat running idly down one’s spine; it is an ideal place to read, to think, to converse, to nap. A place of rationed movement, where less is more, since it is too hot for much of anything other than next to nothing.
In the rush-rush of today’s 24/7 way of life, moments of stillness are as rare as a summer breeze, but now is the perfect time to take advantage of a moment or two of idleness with the people we love. Join me today, won’t you, on this first day of August in a bit of Tuesday afternoon porch sitting? And if anyone asks why, you can simply blame it on the heat!
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Dateline Alabama August 1, 1704:
On this date in history, twenty-three young women arrived in Old Mobile (Fort Louis de la Louisiane) aboard the ship Le Pélican. These women, most of whom were orphans and had few prospects, if any, in France, had been specially selected for their virtue, piety and industriousness to make the voyage to Old Mobile to become the wives of the colonists of their choice residing there. Ranging in age from fourteen to twenty, these incredible young women braved the Atlantic voyage, survived disease and entered the two-year old wilderness colony to establish some of South Alabama’s first families. To learn more about these Pelican Girls like we did I would suggest Kelly Kazek’s When French Orphans Called Casket Girls Came to Alabama as Wives for Colonists and Amy Chen’s Il y a longtemps…The Pelican Girls in Mobile and Yellow Fever Come Full Circle.