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.

that time i ate boiled crawfish at capitol auto body shop

The title here is a bit misleading. I didn’t eat crawfish in an auto body shop, but did I try these shellfish at a client appreciation event in a tent area adjoining Capitol Auto Body Shop in Flowood, #Mississippi? You betcha. And gotta say, eating boiled crawfish is a messy business.

Crawfish boil Deep South

Source: Louisiana Sea Grant College Program via Flickr

Crawfish happen to be the state crustacean of Louisiana, and crawfish boils really get fired up in late February but also March and April. A proper crawfish boil involves a lot of crawfish, seasoning, onions, garlic, red potatoes, and ears of corn. To eat a crawfish, hold the head in one hand and the tail in the other hand. Twist and pull, peel off the shell layers, and you have the meat from the tail. You can also suck the juice from the head, but I skipped this part. Mike the Crawfish Peeling Machine offers an illustrated, step-by-step guide here. Bon temps!

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

a vicksburg visit

Vicksburg, Mississippi, is a shortish drive from Jackson–about 45 minutes due west on Interstate 20. It’s the seat of Warren County and although it’s primarily known for its role in the end of the Civil War, I prefer its architecture.

Found this home, okay, mansion, on Drummond Street.

Drummond Street Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

And then this beauty on Cherry Street.

Cherry Street Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

In the historic downtown area, there is the Mississippi River Commission headquarters building, which appears to have been constructed in the late 1800s.

Mississippi River Commission Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

There is also the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. Vicksburg is where Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894.

Biedenbarn Museum Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South

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.

old balance due road

If I told you that Lexington, #Mississippi, has a road called Old Balance Due, would you believe me? Believe.

Old Balance Due Road Lexington Mississippi Deep South

I was hustling up to Greenwood last May to interview some members and spotted this sign. Had to stop and take a photo. The person responsible for naming the streets in Lexington must have had a wry sense of humor, or perhaps there is debtor on Old Balance Due who needs to pay up.

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.