It is hot here in Mississippi–so much so, they have heat index warnings. I’m from Florida, so it shouldn’t bother me. But somehow this is different. My body reacts differently. A short walk somewhere produces perspiration dripping from my forehead, nose, and lips–like rain. It’s crazy.
But we managed.
After a relaxing morning at the hotel, we drove over to Helena, Arkansas–my namesake, and simply to say I had been to Arkansas. Helena is a depressed little town, at least the “historic” area, and was pretty dead. We stopped at Freedom Park, which is related to Civil War history, which is the main attraction here. The site had been the place where African-American “contraband” –runaway slaves who were kept by the Union army, not returned to the south– lived. The Union had quite a lot of these people, and since they decided to keep them, they then had to provide food and shelter. It was a meager existence, as depicted here:
Many of the contraband joined the Union forces, and are credited with saving Helena. That is the story of Freedom Park; a bit of history I didn’t even know about.
We then went to River Park. Helena boasts the only river front park along the Mississippi. The river is high and moving fast. An old-timer fishing there told us it is rising 3-4 feet a day. We took in the sight of the grand river, and then moved on.
We had a 90 minute drive to Oxford, which meant we were saying goodbye to the Delta and getting into hillier country. We stopped at Rowan Oak–the home of William Faulkner. The grounds are all trees, so it felt fairly comfortable there. The house is rather sparse, and Faulkner memorabilia seemed to consist of his old whiskey bottles–there were plenty of those for some reason. We probably were only there for about 20 minutes. The land has a walking trail in the woods, which could have been nice on a cooler day.
Our final stop before checking in to our hotel was Square Books–one of my very favorite book stores in the entire world. There I found an autographed copy of Bark–a short story collection by Lorrie Moore.
I got some postcards to write haiku to my friends, and we were on our way to cool down at the Hampton Inn.
For dinner we ventured out into the country to The Ravine, and had an outstanding farm to table prix fix meal with a delicious Cabernet wine. All in all, Oxford was a good place for a quiet Sunday. Now we are off to the hustle and bustle of Nashville!