Mississippi held a variety of mysteries for us. Hard, used, exhausted land and people, but crepe myrtles and camellias covering it with blooms and scents. Seeds and pollen wild with activity, filling the air. Wild animals and wild places to explore. Unimpressive to some, yet wild and natural and lovely. There were, ultimately, fewer vast landscapes that took our breath away, yet Mississippi had its own natural space and its own story, but with warm and welcoming driveways, dinner tables, guest rooms, and backyards. Even compared to our months in front of tall mountains, vast oceans, and unique deserts, the kids seem to feel at home when they are loved. And they felt loved in Mississippi.
We dodged tornadoes, broke an arm, and wrestled with the past, but these things seem less daunting when cushioned by family, friends, and community.
- We stayed: driveways in Glen Allan, Fayette, Jackson, Columbus, and Oxford, as well as the Jeff Busby Campground along the Natchez Trace Parkway.
- We explored: Likely overlooked compared to the Blue Ridge Parkways of the country, but the Natchez Trace Parkway provided a dreamy, meandering drive across the state. We found family in Natchez, Fayette, and Oxford and friends in every stop along the way. We explored family roots in Fayette, Durant, and Canton, staying in a grandfather’s home of birth, visiting gravestones, knocking on doors of grandparents’ homes, and drawing family trees. We also visited alma maters and walked across campuses. We fished and collected deer shed in Glen Allan; explored woods throughout the Natchez Trace. Oh, and Square Books in Oxford, as we love a good bookstore.
- We enjoyed: Roy’s Store (Glen Allan), The Little Easy (Natchez), The Pig and Pint (Jackson), Brent’s Drugs (Jackson), The Little Dooey (Starkville), Starkville Cafe (Starkville), Two Brothers (Starkville), Lamar Yard (Oxford), Oxford Creamery and High Rise Doughnuts (Oxford) and countless meals provided for us by friends and families along the way.
- We read: Mississippi Blood (Greg Iles), Thirteen Stories (Eudora Welty), As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner)