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.
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.
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.
One of the most exciting musicians I’ve seen perform live? Hands down, thumbs up, head nodding yes, it’s Christone “Kingfish” Ingram from #Clarksdale, Mississippi. He’s played in Jackson the last two summers at the Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights festival, and his guitar work is simply arresting. It slays.
Ingram is a young man–just 20 years old–but he’s an old soul. And a blues music prodigy. A recent Rolling Stone article proclaims Ingram to be the latest blues savior, but I’m not sure blues music needs saving, per se. The Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, where Ingram regularly performs, draws thousands of attendees each year from all over the world. To check out Ingram’s future performance dates, click here.
The best thing to happen to two slices of whole-wheat toast? It’s the Egg & Olive sandwich at Brent’s Drugs in #Fondren. It’s egg salad with chopped green olives mixed in. I order it every time I visit and never regret my choice. Never as in ever.
Brent’s has been in operation since 1946. Originally opened by pharmacist Alvin Brent, this drugstore was–and still is–a staple gathering place for Jacksonians. Brent’s is now a diner with a lovely soda fountain counter. If you’re super hungry, you can order the E&O with a root beer float on the side. Or milkshake. Nom.
Although winter is my least favorite season (too cold, not enough daylight), I quite enjoy winter in the Deep South. It’s chilly for two weeks and then abracadabra, it feels like spring. What a lovely gift.
This winter has been a good one, I think. My orthopedic surgeon cleared me to walk without a brace, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the freedom. And then THIS.
I have two camellia trees in my backyard, and one of them bloomed much earlier than I expected. January 1, 2019, in fact. Good winter.
When you think winter wonderland, you don’t necessarily think Mississippi, but the Magnolia State really knows how to rock the Christmas spirit from what I’ve observed. Down the street from where I live, Belhaven University offers a Singing Christmas Tree event each December. It’s not a tree that is singing. It’s 100 alumni and students who stand on a 35-foot-tall structure, forming a tree and performing Christmas classics like “O Holy Night.” It’s the world’s oldest singing Christmas tree and draws thousands of attendees each year. Cool beans.
Need to buy a cool gift and want to #shoplocal? Head on over to Farmhouse in Canton, which is about 15 miles north of Jackson. I’ve visited a number of stores throughout Mississippi. This might be my favorite. Exquisite chandeliers and housewares? Check. Artisanal eats and goodies? Check. Friendly and helpful staff? Check.
Farmhouse is located on the historic Canton Square (165 W. Peace Street). I visited yesterday and was pretty much ready to move in the moment I stepped inside.
Another lovely store if you’re in Meridian is the Crooked Letter at 2120B Front Street. This marketplace sits across the street from the new Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience center and is packed to the gills with items by Mississippi artists. Enjoy.
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).
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.
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.