Another snowstorm is on the way, and I’m starting to feel like I’m living in Cimmeria. The last two weeks or so, East Tennessee has been alternating between cold rainy days, cold snowy days, and cold cloudy days, with the sun hardly every to be seen. The cold rainy days predominate, and those are my least favorite. It reminds me of what Howard, and Lamb before him, wrote about the dark wooded hills of Cimmeria. The gloomy weather breeds gloomy inhabitants, and I have to wonder if a sort of idea of Seasonal Affective Disorder existed in Howard’s mind long before such a term was ever coined. Texas winters can be harsh, despite its southern latitudes. Thus the dismal religion built around the god Crom, famously described in “Queen of the Black Coast”:
“Their chief is Crom. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?”
“But what of the worlds beyond the river of death?” she persisted.
“There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people,” answered Conan. “In this world men struggle and suffer vainly, finding pleasure only in the bright madness of battle; dying, their souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly throughout eternity.”
Thus also the comments in “Phoenix on the Sword” about Conan being unlike his fellow Cimmerians in that he can laugh. I also remember a comment in a letter to Lovecraft where Howard suggests the winter weather of New England might have been partly to blame for the dour fanaticism of the Pilgrim colonies. Oh well; at least East Tennessee winters are comparatively short.