donna’s #6

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.

Donnas Number 6 Produce

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.

Ribbon cane

Donna’s #6 also has an adjoining gift store where they sell homemade ice cream. And the ice cream is quite good. Good stuff.

lost and found: the unbelievable journey of vickburg’s guy brown

Mississippi Public Broadcasting is a treasure trove of interesting radio programming. There’s the stuff you expect as a public radio listener anywhere in the U.S.: NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, for example. And then there’s stuff that’s unique to Mississippi–the hourly call-in gardening show to Felder Rushing (it’s such a great show).

Occassionally MPB will offer a program called Conversations. The host, Marshall Ramsey, is a celebrated Mississippian. He’s an author, a guest speaker, and cartoonist for our state’s newspaper, The Clarion Ledger. Sometime back in November I was puttering around in my car, as I am wont to do, and Marshall had the most interesting interview. It was with John Mosely, I believe. John was explaining the most incredible tale of a World War II pilot from #Vicksburg. His name was Guy Brown.

Guy Brown

John bought a TBM Avenger, an old U.S. Navy bomber, with the hopes of restoring it to its former glory. And in the process of restoring this plane, John found Guy. John did more than find Guy. He found that Guy’s mom kept a diary of his military service on a wall in the basement of Guy’s childhood home, which is located on Drummond Street in Vickburg. This wall captures Guy’s last tour–the day he died–July 28, 1945.

Guy Brown wall

You have to watch this video to appreciate this exceptional history.

different (better) here

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.

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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.

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the language of flowers

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.

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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.”

the blue skies of meridian

Took a quick impromptu trip yesterday to #Meridian, Mississippi, which might be one of my favorite cities to visit. I don’t know what it is about Mississippi, but this state generates some of the bluest skies ever.IMG-4789The Queen City happens to be home to the oldest restaurant in the state. And let me be the first to tell you, if you think you need to go to Katz’s in New York City for great Jewish food, you’d be missing out. The food at Weidmann’s is phenomenal. I had the best smoked salmon and then chicken salad on rye sandwich in my life there. Highly recommend.IMG-4788Meridian is also home to many relic buildings and signs, like this one. Who wouldn’t want space age shirt finishing when you take your finest to Perfection for dry cleaning?IMG-4780

goodbye, honeysuckle | hello, crepe myrtles

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.

Crepe myrtles

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.

Annuals

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.

rabbiteye blueberries from poplarville, mississippi

When I lived in Chicago, which was 25 years, I was awfully spoiled. I had access to some of the world’s finest restaurants and food. If I wanted the best blueberries and cherries, however, the Mitten (Michigan) was it. Yes, parts of Michigan are a solid five hours’ drive from Chicago. But the Mitten is a special place. If it wasn’t so darn cold, I would seriously relocate there. Traverse City up near the Yoop (Upper Peninsula or U.P.), heaven. Ann Arbor, fantastic. And on. But I digress.As a Mississippian, I’ve seen billboards promoting Mississippi blueberries and, if I’m being honest, I was kind of skeptical. Are the blueberries here going to be as good as the ones I could get in Michigan? I gave these a spin yesterday evening and they didn’t last long. POOF. Gone. The berries were plump and really flavorful, so I had to do some research.IMG-4713Turns out there are two varieties of blueberries that thrive in Miss Missy: Rabbiteye and Highbush. And then within these blueberry camps, there are further varieties. Rabbiteye varieties include names like Tifblue, Centurion, and Brightwell. Highbush varieties include names like Georgia Gem, Bladen, Reveille, and Jubilee.Mississippi State University Extension has a cool page dedicated to describing each variety, which you can take in here. You’re welcome.