sunshine by proxy

February seems to be humming along in my little corner of #Belhaven in Jackson, Mississippi. We’ve had a week of rainy, overcast weather but these daffodils offer a shot of sunshine by proxy.

When I think of daffodils, I think blooms in April–right around Easter. But in central Mississippi, these perennials started blooming last week. What an early treat.

Daffodils, like tulips, stand so tall, brightly, and confidently. It’s hard not to totally love them. In various cultures, daffodils represent good fortune, hope, rebirth, and new beginnings. Wishing all good things to readers near and far on this 21st day of February.

cups espresso cafe

In the Jackson metro area is a locally owned coffee roaster and espresso cafe–Cups. You can find Cups in Fondren, Flowood, and Madison. And as I’ve learned, in 20+ locations throughout Mississippi. If you’re a coffee lover, I would put Cups on your map, wherever you might be in the Magnolia State. The house blend is perfectly strong but not too acidic. It’s warm, rich, and, to use a wine expression, it has a great mouth feel.

My current go-to is the Americano with skim and some artificial sweetener. But if seasonal drinks are your thing, Cups does not disappoint. I might make it my mission to try each of these. Coffee goals.

Cups Espresso Cafe Jackson Mississippi

sentimental

I’m not one to get too attached to stuff/things, but every now and then I do. And that now and then was yesterday when I asked my handyman to haul away two lovely chairs I bought years ago when I was in Chicago. Two chairs and a bulky console table that I never loved and won’t miss. But those chairs? Seeing them hauled away made me wistful, sentimental, and kind of teary sad. I suppose they remind me of the life I once had and that I currently lack. The days should get brighter soon, I’m thinking/hoping. And in the meantime I’ll focus on being positive and grateful for everything I do have, which is a lot and which includes two brand new chairs. (Not as wonderful as the older ones but they’ll do/I’ll do just fine.)

how not to sound like you’re not from here

“You don’t sound like you’re from here.” I get this a lot. I open my mouth, and my squarish accent betrays my Midwestern upbringing. I’d try to speak more Southern, but the fact is I can’t/won’t. The dialect is far too pretty and wonderfully varied throughout Mississippi, and I’d hate to do it an injustice.

The above stated, there are ways to lessen your squarishness, if you’re like me. Let’s begin with basic courtesies. Ma’am is square one. If I’m running errands and a woman helps me, I always say, “Thank you, ma’am.” Always. In Chicago, to address a woman as ma’am means she’s old, and I always wince when I’m called ma’am. In the South, it’s a sign of respect.

In Mississippi, there are correct pronunciations for city/county/street names, so follow me on this:

  • Biloxi is buh-luck-see.
  • Lafayette is luh-fye-yet.
  • Starkville is stark-vull. Any city that ends with “ville” is pronounced “vull.”
  • Amite is am-mitt.

In the Midwest, any summer backyard gathering that involves grilling meat is called a BBQ, but that isn’t the case here. Barbecue is a food science and practiced differently, depending on what part of the South you’re in.

This next difference I really love. If someone does something really nice for you in the South, you say, “I appreciate you.” It’s a wonderfully personal way to express one’s gratitude. And with this biscuit/post, I should say I appreciate you, blog readers of mine.

the ultimate cinderella of trees (it’s the crepe myrtle)

When I first relocated to Jackson, which was October 2016, I had to ask myself, What’s up with all of the stumpy trees? They were missing their bark; the trees kind of looked naked. And their limbs were shorn/pruned from the top.

Crepe myrtle Jackson Mississippi Deep South trees

It’s the crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia), as it turns out. And this little tree tells the most amazing Cinderella story if you live in the Deep South. In September, as I’ve noticed, the bark starts to peel off, revealing a smooth, green surface. In the following months, property owners prune the limbs as shown above.

And then in early/mid June, wait for it… this.

Crepe myrtle Jackson Mississippi Deep South trees

The flowers are incredibly showy and so brightly colored. If you visit Mississippi (and you absolutely should), I recommend timing your visit for June so you can take in all of this unreal beauty. The weather is hot, yes, but the trees offer a wow transformative experience.

1109 pinehurst place

At 1109 Pinehurst Place in #Belhaven sits the home of one of Mississippi’s greatest authors–Eudora Welty (1909—2001). If you visit Jackson, the Welty House and Garden Tour is a must-experience experience. The tour takes about an hour; admission is just $5.

Constructed in 1925, this two-story Tudor Revival is where Miss Welty wrote her most famous works–The Robber Bridegroom, The Optimist’s Daughter, and Delta Wedding in addition to short stories and essays. The house is largely intact as Miss Welty inhabited and left it before passing in 2001. Books and manuscripts are everywhere. There’s even her Smith-Corona typewriter at her desk in her bedroom that overlooks the tree-lined grounds of Belhaven College (now Belhaven University).

Eudora Welty House Belhaven Jackson Mississippi Deep South

Source: Eudora Welty House and Garden, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Photos are not permitted, unfortunately, so you have to commit this house and its garden rooms (containing more than 30 varieties of camellia shrubs and trees) to memory as you move throughout. For those who cannot visit in person, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History offers an online photo tour, which you can experience here.

mums the word

One thing I’ve learned as a Jackson-Mississippi-by-way-of-Chicago transplant: Gardening is a wonderful pursuit if it suits your interests. It sure does mine. I’ve enjoyed gardening in the Deep South as much as I have enjoyed bicycling in Chicago, which is a great deal. Planting flowers is not just helpful for your property’s curb appeal and enjoyment, it’s also a great strategy for reducing stress. A week or so after ankle surgery, I used a couple sunny afternoons to plant these mums and pansies. Navigating the front yard flower bed on crutches wasn’t all that easy and pretty slow going, but I like the process of digging and the outcome. The mums and pansies are so cheery. And low maintenance if that’s your thing.

Mums Jackson Mississippi Garden Flowers

Keeping up the lawn (freeing it of dead leaves and twigs) has been a lot more tedious than I remember from last autumn. This year I must have raked 13 oversize bags full of dead leaves, twigs, and fallen pine needles. Based on the amount of leaves still on the trees in my front and back yards, I probably have another 13 or so bags to go.