SIMPSON COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Merit Falls near Mendenhall is one of the state's cool spots. It's the kind of place we like in the summer. City kids go to the municipal swimming pool, but out in the country they head for the nearest swimming hole.
Some of us who were alive before the cell phone era and laptop computers and the internet often wonder how we ever got along without such things. But when we have a heat wave like the one we're having right now, we MOST wonder how we ever survived without air conditioning.
Well, those of us fortunate enough to live within bike riding range of a swimming hole, flocked to them when we could back then.
Google lists at least 15 good, officially recognized swimming holes in Mississippi, including Red Creek, Black Creek, Chunky River, Bogue Chitto River. There must be hundreds of them. Including Merit Falls in Simpson County between Mendenhall and Pinola.
As I have grown older, I have come to wish I had been either an archeologist or a geologist. And had I done so, I would be able to tell you the type rock exposed at Merit Falls and why it's here.
What I can tell you about these rocks is, they are slippery. And you need to be careful where you step if you don't want an unexpected plunge into the cold water.
And the cold water! THAT'S why these people are here today. Riles Creek, the waterway on which the falls are situated, is spring fed. Which means a couple of things important to a heat wave. Number one, the creek and falls run like this no matter how much or how little rainfall we've had. And two, since it is spring fed it is cool water.
When our morning air temperature was already nearly a hundred, the creek water was a good 20 degrees cooler. And when the air temperature goes on up, the water stays the same.
But like all really good swimming holes, you swim here at your own risk. There is no lifeguard, no diving, no smoking, no drinking, but plenty of cool summer fun on a hot summer day.
And this is how we used to stay cool when we were kids before anything was invented. And the kids of today have discovered it, too. And discovered that no matter how modern the world has become or how many more new uses for the internet they have come up with overnight, there is no "app" that will substitute for an old-fashioned swimming hole.
Merit Falls is open to the public but remember, there is no lifeguard so be careful.