Miasma, such a wonderfully descriptive word. Miasma: from the dictionary, literary the miasma from the stagnant swamp made us choke and gag: stink, reek, stench,fetor, smell, fume, odor, whiff; gas, cloud, smog, vapor.
Yep, that is exactly what it feels like in the Metropolitan DC area these days. Most people forget that Washington, DC was built on a swamp and the regions around it are riddled with water. There is a reason Foggy Bottom is called Foggy Bottom. We have water everywhere. The Potomac, the Patuxent, the Severn and a ton of other rivers and streams, the Chesapeake Bay and of course the Atlantic Ocean. It’s delightful, it’s outstanding, except when our humidity is around 99% and stays there, making our area feel downright tropical and swampy. The air is thick, stagnant, some call it soupy. It is so heavy it almost takes on a form of its own. The skin feels clammy, your clothes stick to the skin as though they were glued, perspiration rolls down the face to disappear into your collar and sandals are the only footwear you can bear on your feet. And when someone mentions that they didn’t have air-conditioning in the “olden days” so we should all come outside and enjoy sitting on the porch…well, you just want to swat them.
Back to miasma. I grew up in a Southern family where the word miasma could be frequently heard in conversation, especially by my grandmothers. It went something like this:
“Oh the miasma is so bad for you, stay away from the window.”
“Heah, keep those windows closed so the miasma doesn’t come inside.”
Or when my Mamaw smelled something bad, well, then of course, it was the “miasma”.
I love that word but it seems to have fallen out of favor. I mean, scientifically, we know that swamps are a wonderful thing, necessary for the environment as delicate habitats and nature’s filtering system. A swamp is not a purveyor of disease and that illness did not waft in on the moisture laden air (hey, we are not talking mosquitos today). So with knowledge in hand, the word miasma started to disappear. But I want to bring it back. Miasma a term rich in eloquence, laden with romantic images, mired in the gothic and teaming with meaning. If I am to be drenched in sweat, with hair and skin soaked with moisture, miserable and lethargic, then I want to put a layer of something magical, otherworldy and significant on it. I want miasma! I will have my miasma.
And besides what other explanation is there for Congress? Its miasma. Stay away from the windows.
We are all over the place in book reviews for the coming week. Plus I am still focused on the subject of short stories so expect another Scattered Thoughts blog on the subject on Saturday. This is how the week looks to play out:
Monday, July 15: Tattoo You by Willa Okati
Tuesday, July 16: Forever Promised (Promises #4) by Amy Lane
Wed., July 17: Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7) by R.J. Scott
Thursday, July 18: Waiting for Ty by Samantha Ann King
Friday, July 19: Side Line by Ben Ryder
Saturday, July 20: Anthologies? Love Them Or Hate Them?
And to help fight the miasma, a Red Sangria recipe to cool you down:
1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange liqueur
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sliced oranges
1 sliced green apple
1 1/2 cups seltzer
Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Add the seltzer just before serving.