Time in my adopted home state of #Mississippi is winding down, and I’ve been spending the last week or so visiting places I love. One thing I will miss very much when I leave Mississippi? All the beautiful trees. From Southern live oak trees to magnolias (so fragrant in the spring) to Georgia pines (so tall), the trees here are magnificent. And plentiful.
In downtown Jackson, there is a stretch of Pascagoula Street that unfurls east of Jefferson in a wonderfully stretchy way. And the trees on this street–some of which are adorned with Spanish moss–create the most lovely canopy. I pulled my car to the side of the street earlier today to capture this beauty. Might have to frame this photo so I can carry a little piece of Mississippi wherever I go.
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.
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.
In the market for a quintessentially #Mississippi experience? You could spend some serious lettuce and make a reservation at one of our state’s finest hotels–The Alluvian in Greenwood, for example. Or you could hop into your car with $5 and get yourself to one of my favorite places–Donna’s #6 Produce in Florence.
Donna’s #6 is a large, open-air produce market (I hesitate to call it a produce stand), and the staff there are some of the friendliest Mississippians I have ever met. Wander in and check out all of the locally grown fruits and vegetables. Like sweet potatoes? Mississippi has three different varieties, and Donna’s #6 also sells sweet potato rolls behind the counter. Need something to dunk your biscuits in? Hello, Ribbon Cane Syrup. Donna’s #6 has this, too.
Donna’s #6 also has an adjoining gift store where they sell homemade ice cream. And the ice cream is quite good. Good stuff.
I was in Colorado last weekend catching up with friends who asked me what the food is like in #Mississippi. For starters, the fried chicken, the biscuits, the vegetables (all vegetables), they’re just different (better) here. Things I could eat every day: Butter beans and black-eyed peas. The butter beans are typically served with ham, which is sliced and mixed in. Serve butter beans with a side of black-eyed peas and you kind of have a meal.
Mississippi doesn’t have the reputation for BBQ that Tennessee or the Carolinas do, but I love myself some Pig & Pint in Jackson’s #Fondren neighborhood. They have a smoked chicken BBQ sandwich I order every time. So. Darn. Good.
In Greenwood, there’s a place called the Crystal Grill, which is a stone’s throw from the train station. If you visit Mississippi, you need to get yourself there. Trust me on this one, order the fried catfish. The catfish is Mississippi raised; Belzoni (pronounced Bel-zone-uh), Mississippi, is the catfish capitol of the state. And maybe the country. And leave room for dessert (pie). THE PIE. Enough said.As for biscuits, which I prefer with butter (salted) and strawberry jam, which I’m sure is heresy, there is Primo’s in Jackson. Primo’s is a Greek family-run diner that serves all manner of Southern staple foods and dishes. I love everything there and especially the biscuits. Must love biscuits.
A year ago the thought of working on the flower beds at my house seemed a daunting proposition. Surely I would screw it up. Surely I couldn’t tell if my efforts were successful. Well I could not be more incorrect. Two months and who knows how many pairs of gardening gloves later, this flower bed/gardening thing is actually a fun adventure. And plants and flowers will tell you pretty quickly if they like their new home. They have their own language, if that makes sense.My backyard is mostly shade so tried a haphazard mix of Boston ferns, hydrangea, impatiens, and ornamental grasses. The impatiens really took off. I water this part of my backyard every morning and am smitten with this hydrangea. So pretty.
The flower bed in my front yard is a bit more slow going, growth wise. It also gets more sun than the back yard so some of the plants are taking a beating with the heat of central Mississippi. I laid down a bed of pine straw to keep the flowers and plants from scorching and so far, so good. After I water the front yard flower bed, the leaves of the crotons stand upright as if to shout, “Hey thanks! I’ll have some more.”
I have a honeysuckle shrub in my back yard and the last 4 weeks have been pretty glorious. Is there a better smell than fresh honeysuckle blossoms? Walking the dogs in #Belhaven amid all of these flowering trees and bushes is such a wonderful experience. I look forward to walking this daily path. Penny and Nickel sniff and wag their tails the whole way. At some point I’ll try to capture it on video.
The honeysuckle flowers are fading fast but the crepe myrtles are in their full regalia. Such showy trees when they are in bloom. The flowers are pale pink, purple, white, red, and watermelon–a hot pink color that is my favorite.
I hope Jacksonians know how lucky they are to live in such lush beauty. I don’t take any of this for granted as a Chicagoan. In fact I marvel at how alive things are here.
Last weekend I purchased some annuals for my backyard deck because, well, annuals. They’re just so colorful. And it was my birthday.
I was chatting with one of my neighbors and bemoaned the fact that I would only be able to enjoy them until September. His reply: “WHAT? You’ll be able to enjoy them until November. You’re in the South now.” Word.