Way Down Yonder

In a couple of days we’re heading for Mississippi, land of cotton, home of the blues, and a history so rich in all things southern – some good, some bad – that all it takes is a day or two of being there, and you might just develop a southern drawl.

My in laws have a place in Holly Springs I love just like home.  If the weather cooperates (iffy in February) we’ll sit out on their back deck and wait for the deer to come eat the corn they scatter just for them, and we’re likely to see turkeys too.  Once the sun sets, it gets dark – yeah I know common sense – but I mean really dark.  Looking up is a whole other experience, and it can take your breath away if you’re not used to seeing the stars like this – i.e. not dulled by city lights.  The clarity is jaw dropping.

If I stay outside long enough I’m likely to hear coyote in the bottom.  If you’ve never experienced this before, it’s an eerie sound, a lonesome mournful howling started by one, and picked up and carried on by the rest of the pack.  When they get going, I can only imagine how many must be down there, and it makes me glad I’m cozy close to the house, as in only a few feet away from a door.

What a city slicker.

Of course the main point of this particular trip is to promote THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and I’ve been fortunate to have two other events crop up, which means I can make the most of my time there.  It’s truly like a working vacation.

The first event is when I’ll visit The Southern Eatery in downtown Holly Springs to do an interview with the Daily Mississipian.

The Southern Eatery, it’s one of these store fronts.

Then, on Tuesday, it’s time for the event that’s been planned for months, a book reading/signing at Off Square Books in Oxford.  Be still my heart!

The collection of book stores in Oxford, Square Books, Off Square Books (for events) and Square Books, Jr.

And then, on Wednesday, I’ll be heading up to Memphis to the Benjamin Hooks Library, where I’ll do an interview for “Book Talk” on WYPL, 89.3 radio.

Benjamin Hooks Library

In between all that?  Oh, there’s bound to be a couple trips to eat a boatload of catfish, maybe up to Byhalia, or Laws Hill.  (this is a must, really)  And, I’ll want to eat a hamburger from the infamous Phillip’s Grocery.  (yes, it’s all about the eating)

Phillips Grocery. This place started off as a saloon in the late 1800’s. There might have been some other illicit activities going on upstairs too.

Hey, the place ain’t much to look at, but just like an ugly tomato – which we all know tastes the best – they have these hand patted hamburgers with a secret ingredient they WILL NOT give up that makes them uniquely a Phillips burger.  Yum.

I’ll need recovery time, and if my brain isn’t too addled from all that goodness, I’ll write. And I’ll run Old Route 4 (to work off the food so I can eat more.  Let’s be honest, it’s the REAL reason I run) and I’ll want to take several walks down to the bottom IN THE DAYLIGHT, and perhaps sit on that little hill that overlooks my father in law’s land.  It’s peaceful there and so quiet all you hear is the wind and an occasional bird.  And, hopefully nothing else.  (good to know coyote and wild pig are nocturnal.) I’ll take a pen and notepad in case I catch a thought for the WIP.

Honestly, what better place could I spend some time reflecting on writing than in the homeland of Faulkner, Welty, Brown, Iles, Foote, Trethewey, and too many more to name?

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