Monday, July 14, 2008
The Sun So Hot I Froze to Death
July 14 marked our first day in a new state for us:
Alabama, "the Heart of Dixie."
Alabama takes its name from the river that flows through it, which in turn takes its name from a Choctaw tribal name which may come from alibamo meaning "We stay here."
I like this as a name because it is so brilliantly circular. "Were are we?" "The place where we are." It's kind of a zen, hippie point of view in a Timothy Leary, Ram Dass kind of way.
Of course, the sad irony that the Choctaw are, in fact, not here any more has not been lost on me.
As a Northerner, my main association with the state of Alabama is the song "Oh Susannah" with its line "I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee." (Which is actually a song about going to Louisiana.)
Daphne, Alabama did not live up to any banjo-style stereotypes of the deep south. It was, however, as hot as I remembered Albama being on my childhood visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. On that visit, almost 20 years ago, the car got so hot that my casette player literally melted. For some reason, this memory did not deter me from scheduling a return to the state in the month of July.
The name Daphne dates back to 1874. My superficial research did not reveal who the original Daphne was, but I think we can rule out Daphne from the Scooby Doo cartoon at least.
The first time on our tour that we saw an attractive body of water on a sunny day (albeit from a distance) was in Daphne. (I did not have my camera with me)
Seventeen students and teachers were on hand for Valery Lantratov's class at the Eastern Shore Dance Academy in Daphne, Alabama. The teacher's were very welcoming, and Valery was given a program from a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet with many of his friends in it. It was a great way to begin our stay in a new state, and it is a city we look forward to returning to in the future.