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March CONTENTS 2020 • VOLUME 17 • NO.3

features

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Bok Tower Gardens Sings for Spring

Hungry Beauty: Pitcher Plants

Wild Hogs: Unwelcome Visitors

departments 16 Living Well Gardening to Better Health

42 On the Road Again Pensacola, Florida

20 Notables Dr. D.D. Sidhu

44 Greater Goods 68 Homegrown Buff City Soap

24 Exploring Art Memphis Fashion Week

72 Southern Gentleman A Garage Sale Guide

28 Exploring Books Preserving Our Roots

74 Southern Harmony Abby Frances

30 Southern Roots Daffodils in Bloom

78 In Good Spirits Ginger Sparkler for St. Pat’s Day

34 Table Talk Fan and Johnny’s 38 Exploring Destinations Briarwood Nature Preserve 

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80 Exploring Events 82 Reflections Remembering Mom’s Roses

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editor’s note | MARCH

Green & Growing Spring is around the corner and it’s time to get those gardens ready for planting if you haven’t already. We hope this issue will inspire you to spend a little time playing in the dirt. If you live in a rural area, you may be familiar with a problem facing farmers as well as home gardeners: wild hogs. Writer David Hanson is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a documentary project about wild hogs, and in his story for DeSoto Magazine he shares how the USDA is trying to eradicate the problem. Carnivorous plants have fascinated me since I saw “Little Shop of Horrors” years ago. And who knew this unusual species – also called pitcher plants – is prolific across the Gulf Coast? Writer Sandra Friends tells us the best places to see pitcher plants, including the Infinity Science Center at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. Our tradition of featuring a lovely public garden in our annual green and growing issue continues this month with my story about Bok Tower Gardens, located on one of the highest ridges in Central Florida. Edward Bok established the gardens and his Singing Tower in 1929 as a “gospel of beauty.”

MARCH 2020 • Vol. 17 No.3

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Melanie Dupree MANAGING EDITOR Mary Ann DeSantis

DeSoto Magazine editors Mary Ann DeSantis and Cheré Coen

Spring also means garage sales and our Southern Gentleman contributor Jason Frye has a little advice about organizing one. Writer Jackie Finch gives us a run down on the upcoming Memphis Fashion Week and assistant editor Cheré Coen explores the Briarwood Nature Preserve in Louisiana. Gardening (and just being outside) can lead to better health as you’ll read in this month’s Living Well by writer Pamela Keene. So get out there and get started! Happy Spring!

ASSISTANT EDITOR Cheré Coen CONTRIBUTORS Michele Baker Robin Branch Cheré Coen Mary Ann DeSantis Jackie Sheckler Finch Sandra Friend Jason Frye David Hanson Pam Keene Noreen Kompanik Karen Ott Mayer Andrea Brown Ross P. Allen Smith PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com SUBSCRIBE: DeSotoMagazine.com/subscribe

DeSotoMagazine.com

on the cover Daffodils are the first sign of spring, and these little perennials make a colorful splash after a cold, gray winter. Find out more in this month’s Southern Roots.

Cover photo provided by P. Allen Smith.

©2020 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties interested in advertising should email paula@desotomag.com or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at desotomagazine.com.

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living well | GARDENING & HEALTH

Gardening Your Way to Better Health By Pamela A. Keene | Photography courtesy of Jordan Crossingham Brannock and joegardener.com

Playing in the dirt has many health and therapeutic benefits – from healthier eating to a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind. Whether you love digging in the dirt or simply enjoy strolling through a woodland garden, connecting with nature can work wonders in your daily life. “From improving your physical health to taking a break from the stresses of life, getting back to Mother Earth brims with benefits,” says Joe Lamp’l, national television host and creator of joegardener.com. “People who garden are generally more physically active, plus many gardeners I know seem to just be happier and more centered. Maybe it’s because they are so connected to nature.” 18 DeSoto

From growing houseplants to creating food gardens for family and friends, people who garden seem to find their own niches. Some like to putter with potted plants; others go all out with home greenhouses, large food plots with raised beds, or focusing on collections of similar plants, such as hydrangeas, hellebores, or ferns. Green and Growing Lamp’l cites an article from Colorado State University’s Cooperative Extension Master Garden Program’s


“Benefits of Gardening.” It says families who grow their own vegetables naturally eat more fruits and vegetables. Plus, gardening provides exercise, stress reduction, and relaxation. “There’s just something in the soil that has a physiological effect on mental well-being,” Lamp’l says. “For me, it’s about just smelling the earth and the scents of the plants, plus seeing the results of my labors as the plants grow and mature.” A Sense of Community The popularity of community gardens yields more than fun food crops to share. It’s a chance for people to come together for a common purpose, make new friends, and improve their environs. Lamp’l tells of the creation of a neighborhood garden, a one-day project that brought together neighbors and businesspeople of all ages and walks of life. “When the day began, there was just a large flat area and people willing to work together,” he says. “By the end of the day, there were raised beds filled with seedlings, and dozens of people who were no longer strangers to each other. They had created a huge garden where nothing had existed when the day started. “People were tired, but no one seemed to notice as they sat back and enjoyed the results of their cooperation.

And it opened the door for them to continue the personal connections created by shared accomplishment.” Houseplants for Health and Wellness Surrounding yourself with thriving living plants has many benefits. Houseplants can improve your indoor environment by helping eliminate indoor air pollutants caused by paints, solvents, and building materials. A report from the University of Georgia’s Department of Horticulture showed that more than two dozen houseplants can remove harmful volatile organic compounds from the air, those that have been known to cause asthma and respiratory ailments. Purple waffle plant, English ivy, variegated wax plant, and asparagus ferns are among the most effective. “Introducing common ornamental plants into indoor spaces is not only good for the environment, but they also create a way to connect with nature,” Lamp’l says. “A home that features living plants just seems to be more alive and welcoming.” Bring beauty indoors by growing African violets, begonias, orchids – phalaenopsis are the easiest to rebloom – and holiday favorites such as amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus, and Christmas cactus.

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Therapeutic Gardens for Healing Around the globe, hospitals, senior living facilities, cancer-treatment clinics, and special care campuses create therapeutic gardens that are accessible to patients and their families. A study by Roger Ulrich, professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, found that patients with views of gardens and nature heal more quickly than those who view parking lots or concrete walls. Therapeutic gardens also offer a quiet place for families to get away from the sights, sounds, and smells of the institution. A garden with steppingstone pathways, a water feature, a plant-draped arbor, or several benches can provide a pleasant respite from stress or a fresh palate for reflection. The same is true for visiting botanical gardens. “Many of these horticultural sites, sometimes located in the heart of a bustling city, reveal pockets of peacefulness,” Lamp’l says. “If you need a break and a chance to be introspective, visit a botanical garden.” Lifelong Enjoyment Gardening can be a lifelong pursuit. “Getting older certainly doesn’t restrict our opportunities to enjoy plants and nature,” Lamp’l says. “As we age, we adjust our lives to adapt to our physical limitations. And we find ways to continue to connect with nature. “Caring for other living things, watching them grow and thrive is amazing,” Lamp’l says. “Gardening helps us remember that the world is bigger than we are, plus gardening is just good clean fun.”

Journalist and photographer Pamela A. Keene is based in Flowery Branch, Ga. She writes for magazines across the Southeast.

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notables | D.D. SIDHU

Dr. D.D. Sidhu

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Destiny and Dedication By Noreen Kompanik | Photography courtesy of Dr. D.D. Sidhu and KBat Communications

A long career of community service and devotion to children’s issues earns DeSoto County pediatrician D.D. Sidhu a lifetime achievement award. In 2018, DeSoto County pediatrician Dr. D.D. Sidhu received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for his “distinguished service and dedication, tirelessly working in his community to alleviate hunger and improve health and educational outcomes for children and families.” The award honors Sidhu’s decades of serving the children of northwest Mississippi, not only as a pediatrician, but also as a neonatologist and infectious disease specialist. It was during his third year of medical school in Amristar, India, that Sidhu knew that he wanted to be a pediatrician. He had a natural affinity for children, so pediatrics seemed the perfect fit. A pediatrics residency took him to London, England, and then on to private practice in Norfolk, Va. One year spent as a surgical resident was important in rounding out his training. Opportunity in the Deep South knocked in 1978 and Sidhu discussed the offer with his wife. “After all,” he says, “Elvis had just died, and we always wanted to see Graceland.” He asked his wife to give the move at least a year. If she wasn’t happy in Mississippi, he agreed they’d return to Virginia. On June 1 of that year, he became the first pediatrician covering the 90-mile corridor of Whitehaven to Grenada. Within two months, Sidhu’s wife proclaimed her happiness with Mississippi and its people. “I was chosen to be here,” Sidhu says. “I truly believe it was destiny and a higher power that brought me here.”

Sidhu launched his practice in 1978 and established a second office in Southaven after Baptist Hospital DeSoto opened its doors. In 2018, he opened a third clinic in Olive Branch. He serves the children and families of DeSoto, Tunica, Marshall, Panola, and Tate counties. From 1978 to 1980, Sidhu was the sole provider of neonatal services in northwest Mississippi, practically on-call seven days a week for premature babies, high risk deliveries, and pediatric illnesses. Until 1986, he was never paid for his hospital services as it didn’t fall under Mississippi Medicaid standards that at the time considered the obstetrician required to handle emergency situations. “It isn’t the baby’s fault I didn’t get paid,” he says. “I was there to save a life. If I didn’t come, someone could have died.” In his 18 years as a solo practitioner, he never missed a pediatric medical emergency, even if it happened during the middle of the night. That selflessness illustrates Sidhu’s devotion to the community. In addition to being on staff at all area hospitals and on the clinical faculty at LeBonheur and the University of Tennessee, he volunteers with the Community Foundation of Mississippi and its grants committee, and works with Excel by 5 in Hernando, mostly working on childhood issues like food insecurity and hunger. Though his interests have been highly focused in north Mississippi, he is well attuned to state-wide issues, and sits on the board of Kids Count for the state of Mississippi.

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In discussing the enormity of his volunteer work, Sidhu responded, “A good deed is to be done, not talked about. When you are called to do something, you do it from the heart.” Sidhu’s pediatric offices have seen substantial growth since his days as the area’s only pediatric practitioner. His offices in Southaven, Senatobia, and Olive Branch employ 41 people, including 10 care providers. He proudly explains that his practice is now a family affair. His two grown children, a son and daughter both work for the DeSoto Children’s Clinic as clinical administrator and director of strategic planning. “My children are carrying on the legacy,” he says, “They tell me ‘Dad, this is your baby. We’ll take care of it in a good way.’” Retirement is on the horizon for Sidhu, when he’ll have more time to work on behalf of children’s efforts in DeSoto County. It will also provide him the opportunity to enjoy his many hobbies of golf, tennis, racquetball, swimming, and photography, plus learning a new skill, Spanish. Recently, Sidhu was asked if he would change one thing in his life. “I wouldn’t change a thing,” he responds. “Loving what you do is most important. I would still be a pediatrician in Mississippi. “Success of life” he continues, “is gauged by how many lives we’ve touched. And that’s what I most want to be known for.”

Noreen Kompanik is a former registered nurse and freelance travel journalist based in San Diego, Calif.

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exploring art | MEMPHIS FASHION WEEK

Model Cameron wears Dilettante Collection at Memphis College of Art.

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Spotlight on Creative Design By Jackie Sheckler Finch | Photography courtesy of Arrow Creative

Memphis Fashion Week fosters artistic expressions while raising money for non-profit Arrow Creative. When she was a little girl, Natasha Norie Standard was fascinated with fashion. Born in Indianapolis, Standard got her first Vogue magazine at the age of 12 and started a life-long love affair with fashion. “My friends wanted to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. I just wanted to work in fashion,” Standard says. “It took a long road to get here, and I’m super excited about being part of Memphis Fashion Week.” As founder of Norie Shoe Company in 2017, Standard is looking forward to sharing her story and creations during Memphis Fashion Week. Her shoes are also for sale at Arrow Creative on 2535 Broad Ave in Memphis. “My company tagline is ‘Stand on Your Power’ and my shoes all have names after powerful women around the world throughout history,” she says. Her most popular shoe, Standard says, is the signature black ballerina flat named Juana in honor of Juana Arzuduy de Padilla, a revolutionary who fought to gain independence for her people in Upper Peru. The Bolivian guerrilla military leader joined the Chuquisaca Revolution in 1805 and eventually commanded a 6,000-strong military force. Norie shoes are designed with comfort in mind, Standard explains. “I don’t make heels that are more than four inches high and I have two inches of support inside my shoes. I believe it is important for women to have wearable and walkable shoes.” Started in 2012 by Abby Phillips, Memphis Fashion Week 2020 will run this year from April 1-4. Its emphasis is to cultivate the city’s fashion industry, including entrepreneurs such as Standard. “The event supports local designers, retailers, models, photographers, stylists, and more,” Phillip says. As chair of this year’s Memphis Fashion Week, Brittany Myers Cobb has worked with the event for three years

and has seen first-hand how excitingly valuable it is. “I love everything about it,” Cobb says. “To be involved in this type of event in our own city is a dream. The high energy throughout the weekend gives us a front row seat of a bigger picture – a picture of incredibly talented creatives, local designers and business owners coming together and collaborating for one cause.” After working in corporate America for 11 years and becoming a wife and mother of three young children, Cobb found her “dream job” three years ago with the global beauty brand LimeLife by Alcone. As a result, two years ago she also started her own blog, www.brittanymyerscobb.com. “My blog became an outlet to share my life,” she says. “From my favorite recipes to beauty and style to family, it was my way to share my voice and help others.” Last year’s event raised more than $100,000 for the non-profit Arrow Creative to help promote and encourage Memphis fashion entrepreneurs and the Memphis fashion marketplace. Originally named Memphis Fashion Design Network, Arrow Creative was founded in 2017 and has grown into a more expansive arts organization with a one-roof creative district for both creatives and consumers. Arrow Creative seeks to support a broad range of creative channels, including fashion, sculpture, video, photography, graphic design, painting, and more, Phillips says. Arrow Creative also offers programming for all levels from youth arts camps to an entrepreneurship incubator. Such support is priceless, says Standard, who arrived at her fashion destination through a long circuitous route. “When I was 17, I told my parents that I wanted to go to New York City to go into fashion,” she says. “My dad said he wasn’t letting his only daughter go to New York City. So I joined the Army.” Standard retired after serving 20 years in the Army. DeSoto 27


After earning a bachelor of science in marketing from Hampton University, a master’s from Webster University and a second master of arts from Savannah School of Art and Design, Standard moved to Memphis to become supply chain manager at Williams Sonoma’s regional headquarters. But she still yearned to fulfill her childhood dream of working in fashion. “I wanted to do something I feel really impassioned about and to contribute to society,” Standard says. “I decided to go for it and left Williams Sonoma and went to Milan, Italy, for a year to focus on footwear development and design.” Standard attended the prestigious Arsutoria School in Milan and embarked on curating her own designer Italian shoe line, Norie Shoes. She is also developing Dream Chasers Foundation, the philanthropic arm of her company which will provide mentoring to high school students ages 15-18 who are ageing out of the foster system. Who knows what future artists and designers might be mentored by Dream Chasers? And who knows what future world-renowned designers might be showcasing their work in this year’s Memphis Fashion Week? “I have lived in Memphis all my life and am proudest of our city’s beautiful ability to lift people up and foster different types of artistic expression,” Phillips says. “The support I have received and the creative influences I have encountered – first as a small-business owner and more recently, as a non-profit organizer for Fashion Week and Arrow Creative – never ceases to astound and inspire me.” memphisfashionweek.org

An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend.

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exploring books | PRESERVING OUR ROOTS

The Seed Man By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Blackberry Farm / Sarah Hackenberg

One man’s quest to save heirloom seeds is now the subject of a book by an acclaimed documentary filmmaker. Following a chance meeting at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., between documentary filmmaker Christina Melton and horticulturalist John Coykendall, an idea was born. “I was on vacation there with my husband and we took a walk down to the gardens,” Melton says. “I had wanted to meet John and didn’t have time during our first visit. This time, we found him in front of a fire, shelling peas in the garden shed. During their visit, Coykendall mentioned he had been writing in journals and compiling gardener profiles and seed stories for years. Like others, Melton had no idea the breadth of his work. “He showed me three journals,” she explains. “I was amazed. Over the years, John has given many talks about his work but I couldn’t believe no one had told the Louisiana story specifically.” An award-winning documentary filmmaker for more than 30 years, Melton has called Louisiana home for more than three decades working with Louisiana Public Broadcasting. 30 DeSoto

Over her career, she has produced films both within the state and nationally through American Public Television. After that initial meeting with Coykendall, Melton returned home with a specific goal. “I went home and told my coworkers John’s work should be a book.” They agreed. Although her experience was largely in writing shorter pieces like scripts, Melton decided to attempt a book that would reflect his lifelong work. As a prelude to the book, Melton made a documentary, “Deeply Rooted,” featuring Coykendall. Coykendall entrusted Melton with his Moleskine notebooks. And she treated them as archival material. “I made covers for all of them and put them in some order,” Melton says. She then spent years combing through the journals, sifting through the immense amount of content to decide what to include in the book. Just as Coykendall believes he’s only touched the surface of his work, Melton felt the same as she


One particular pursuit for a field pea led him to Washington Parish, La. For more than 30 years, he chased the “unknown pea” and finally discovered it through an elderly friend. “I couldn’t understand how it could disappear because it was an excellent variety that made long green vines and little oblong peas,” he says. Another older variety is the Whippoorwill Purple Hull pea which Coykendall says originated in 1830. The seed itself resembles the mottling of a whippoorwill bird and is light tan in color. In early January 2019, a man near Natchez passed a range pea to Coykendall. “He gave it to me on the spot and it just took off. It ranges up and down and has such production with long green pods. The older varieties were grown in corn fields.” Coykendall owns more than 700 varieties in his own collection with more than 90 varieties listed on the Seed Savers Exchange. His insatiable pursuit hasn’t lessened over time but rather heightened as he realizes how many stories still need telling. “These seeds are also important because of the historical and cultural place in time,” he says. He’s pleased to see a food renaissance happening between chefs and gardeners, as well as a group of young seed savers who promise to continue the work. Coykendall hopes “Preserving our Roots” will inspire other people. “I would like to see people do the same thing and record knowledge by collecting seeds and stories.” worked with the journals. Finally, in late 2019, “Preserving Our Roots: My Journey to Save Seeds and Stories” was published by Louisiana State University Press. A native of Knoxville, Coykendall works as an heirloom seed preservationist and as the master gardener at Blackberry Farm, a resort in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He arrived at Blackberry Farm in search of a landscape where he could garden and revive heirlooms. As the resort itself grew and embraced ideas of the new Farmstead, Coykendall took possession of the old garden shed, which today serves as his proverbial headquarters where informal gatherings and pea shelling happen around a wood stove. In his earlier days, he studied art and painting. An artist or farmer? Coykendall acknowledges that no boundaries exist between the two occupations. “I picked two of the poorest professions,” he says while laughing. When he began collecting seeds back in 1975, the preinternet world relied on meetings and networks for exchange. During this time, Coykendall says they watched as more commercial varieties began disappearing. “Park Seed bought the Hastings Seed Company and began dropping all the old varieties,” he explains. In 1986, Coykendall began taking notes and recording interviews in black Moleskine books. Since then, he has amassed several hundred books in his collection. “I like those black books,” he says again with a laugh. Not to be taken lightly, his collection represents critical material with his detailed notes, drawings, recipes, descriptions, and interviews. Often, he wrote down words verbatim, capturing the original language of his interviewees. “I did it for my own memory banking.”

When she’s not writing, Karen Ott Mayer can be found in her garden at Moon Hollow Farm and Country House in Como, Miss.

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southern roots | DAFFODILS

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Daffodils on my Mind By P. Allen Smiith | Photography courtesy of Mark Fonville

Spring arrives in a burst of color when daffodils transform fields into riotous blooms. Choosing specific varieties makes them last well into May. I believe there is a small part within each of us that is delighted each spring to see the first daffodils in bloom. These certainly are among the bravest of flowers, one of the first to herald the arrival of spring, and often pressing on in the most inhospitable of weather conditions. A cheerful mainstay at Moss Mountain Farm, each year these little perennial bulbs transform an ordinary farm field into an undulating golden blanket of bloom, all happening during a magical window of time that is mesmerizing. Over the course of their most floriferous month, March, these blooms reach a heightened pitch by mid-month with early and late bloomers extending the season by bookending the March crescendo. However, I should say we have blooms as early as January and as late as the first week of May. This range of bloom time is less about the zone in which we garden, but more about the varieties or “cultivars” of daffodils we have chosen. I have consciously and purposely stretched the season of bloom to almost five months on our Zone 8 farm by choosing specific daffodils. We always start with the arrival of Rynveld’s Early

Sensation, as it’s a notoriously early bloomer. Some years it can be seen blooming the first week of January. We end the season with some unnamed tazetta types that have been at Moss Mountain since time in-memoriam, usually the first week of May. During this range of bloom I have always tried to plant enough of a single variety for cutting and bringing indoors without making too much of a dent in the display. We use fresh flowers in the house constantly, and the daffodils can be a consistent source of bloom while many flowers are still fast asleep. I prefer to pick in bundles of the same type and use them in a myriad of vase sizes. Simple and bold is best, since this approach delights the eye. While wandering the fields at Moss Mountain Farm, you’ll see a pattern of planting where the bulbs are in natural drifts of like kind. These swaths reflect the notion of simple and bold in the landscape. Each year we try to plant a few new varieties, including cultivars that are the “Johnny-come-latelies” among narcissus hybridizers. Daffodils come mainly from Holland, but there are also English, Irish, and American breeders. One recent favorite of mine is a double type called Replete. It’s soft salmon and DeSoto 33


cream corona and cream collar are ideal for certain rooms in the house, and it’s always a delight to visitors when in bloom. In short, it looks like a yummy dessert. It’s worth mentioning that deer will not eat daffodils of any kind, as delectable as they may appear. For the best selection of these newer varieties, the earlier in the season one can purchase the bulbs the better. The bulb catalogs start showing up just after Labor Day. I try to get my order in by late August or early September, but I’m not always that attentive. When I delay, I cringe when the sight of “sold out” inevitably appears over the new cultivars I’ve missed. Then it’s another year’s wait, at least, to see them leap off the pages of the catalog and into my garden. However, bulb planting time can be more relaxed, if not forgiving. I’ve planted daffodils as early as October and as late, dare I say, as January. As long as the bulbs have been stored in a cool, dark place and haven’t gone soft, my recommendation is to get them into the ground. Also worth mentioning, while storing bulbs in a refrigerator is a good idea, they can be damaged when stored with produce. Apples seem to be the most egregious of fruits, emitting ethylene gas that will destroy the flower embryo. Daffodils play well with others and make terrific company with other spring bulbs. On the front of the season they harmonize with crocus, and later it’s the Spanish Bluebells and Snowflakes you’ll find them singing among. Early perennials such as Phlox (Phlox subulata and divaricata), Heuchera, and Virginia Bluebells also play well with daffodils. Each time you see daffodils this spring think about where you can add some in your garden, as they will bring you joy for years to come. If you get the itch to see lots of daffodils this spring, plan a visit to see us at Moss Mountain Farm in March.

P. Allen Smith, an author, television host, and conservationist, is one of America’s most recognized gardening experts as the host of three national award-winning television shows. Smith uses his Arkansas home, Moss Mountain Farm, as an epicenter for promoting the local food movement, organic gardening, and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds. Tours of his farm may be booked at pallensmith.com/tours.

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table talk | FAN AND JOHNNY’S

Artfully Crafted Fare to Feed the Body & Soul Story and photography by Michele D. Baker

Greenwood’s Fan and Johnny’s allows Beard-nominated Chef BowenRicketts to showcase her artistic skills. Chef Taylor Bowen-Ricketts is easy to be around – she exudes artistic energy, yet she has an unruffled, everythingwill-get-done manner. In the brief pause between the lunch crowd and the dinner rush, she relaxes in a vinyl and chrome kitchen chair at a yellow Formica table. The dining cubicle is tucked into the middle of her latest culinary adventure: Fan and Johnny’s. 36 DeSoto

The downtown Greenwood restaurant, located just half a block from the picturesque Yazoo River, has been serving delicious food since 2016. The architecture and furnishings are industrial chic, with 15-foot exposed brick walls, skylights, poured and stained concrete floors, and artwork by both BowenRicketts and her chef/artist husband, Darby Ricketts, adorning the walls. Like colors on an artist’s palette, no two tables are


Chicken Etouffee with gravy and cheeze grits

Taylor Bowen Ricketts

Hoka BBQ Shrimp Poboy

alike – the yellow and gray Formica table perches near a formal wooden dining table and six shield-back chairs. Further along, a standard restaurant booth with double benches squats beneath a mounted quilt-turned-artwork. Hanging lamps made from jelly jars and milk bottles illuminate each carefully considered space, almost as if each table is the focus of its own personal dining room. A wooden hutch with a marble top and leaded stained-glass inserts holds menus, mints, and a stack of local magazines. Bowen-Ricketts was clearly born an artist, and now uses both pigments and foodstuffs with equal flair to express her values and ideas. At Ole Miss, she studied art, created beautiful pieces, curated art shows, and sold her artwork. “After graduation, I needed something to do every day, so I started working in a restaurant,” she recalls. “Everyone worked together as a team and they showed art on the walls – it was a family. “I’ve always loved food, hospitality and entertaining,” she continues. “I worked in several fun restaurants – very well run – that served real food prepared with proper techniques. It was another medium for creativity.” As proof, a cozy round booth in the back houses just one of Bowen-Ricketts’ awards, a ceramic plate bearing

the proud moniker: “James Beard Award Nominee 2016.” Several large canvases lush with bold strokes, vivid colors and remembered stories, hang cheek by jowl with her accolades. Fan and Johnny’s, her seventh restaurant in a nearly 30-year career, is named for her maternal grandparents, a natural continuation of her artistic and culinary career. Her Cajun grandparents’ kitchen, always full of locally sourced, seasonally available “real food,” was an early inspiration for the chef, and one of the culinary themes that has followed BowenRicketts from the Yocona River Inn early in her career, to The Hoka (a whole food restaurant), through her time working at Viking and Delta Fresh Market, to the present restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner, starters at Fan and Johnny’s include a thick Caribbean black bean soup with cornbread croutons, oranges and onions; black-eyed pea cakes with baby greens and remoulade; and lemon pepper fried shrimp. Poboys are served on Gambino rolls, including The Hoka BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy with mayo, tomato and spring mix; Nashville Hot Chicken tossed in hot sauce butter with homemade pickles and ranch dressing; fried catfish with bacon tartar, cabbage and crispy onions; and a ginger pecan chicken salad with oranges and lettuce. Decadent desserts are also available to put the finishing touches on any meal: bread pudding, hot fudge pie, DeSoto 37


and blueberry crisp, all homemade and served with local gelato, sure to please. She credits her long success with the people, opportunities and experiences – both good and bad – working in high profile positions at Viking. “My friend Martha [Foose] had moved to Greenwood,” she explains. “She thought I might do well at Viking, and I had many opportunities through that connection. I attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa, took weeklong continuing education classes to learn more about cooking techniques, and cooked for executives and visitors from around the world. I had access to the Food Network, and one of my colleagues there nominated me for the James Beard [Award].” Fully immersed in the Delta now through her children, her restaurant and her art, Bowen-Ricketts is a staple ingredient in this community. “People followed me from Delta Fresh Market and The Hoka asking me, ‘When are you going to open another restaurant?’” she says. “Well, I finally did, and I can do what I want now. I’m only open about 15 hours a week, so I can do other things, too.” Pointing to the cabbages and herbs in a large container garden in the cobbled alleyway beside Fan and Johnny’s, she explains further, “This is where we set up the long tables for about 100 people. We do a fundraiser for ArtPlace Mississippi, a nonprofit dedicated to creating access to the arts for everyone in Leflore County. And I finally have time to tell my girls to slow down, because it all goes so very fast.” facebook.com/fanandjohnnys

Michele D. Baker is a freelance writer from Jackson who loves reading, travel and anything chocolate.

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exploring destinations | BRIARWOOD NATURE PRESERVE

The Briarwood log cabin

Rebirth of Historic Briarwood Nature Preserve Story and photography by Cheré Coen

Louisiana’s Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve known as “Briarwood” reopens March 1, just in time for spring blooms. On the afternoon of May 8, 2019, the winds were picking up around Rick Johnson’s home in northwestern Louisiana. When a rattling noise began on his roof, he assumed the worst was hail. He opened the front door to get a peek of the violent thunderstorm moving through the area and witnessed the walls of a tornado rushing past. The tornado chopped up the forest of the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve known as Briarwood, located north of Natchitoches, La. It damaged several structures on the property, including the visitor’s center and the log cabin Dormon and her sister lived in for many years. This year on March 1, with much 40 DeSoto

of the damage finally cleared and the buildings repaired, the 210-acre preserve will open again to the public, just in time for the massive blooms scheduled to appear on the forest floor. “A guy put it in perspective,” Johnson says of the tornado and the damage it caused. “We’re in a climax forest. Things are going to change.” Johnson, who serves as the preserve curator and lives on the Briarwood property, takes it all in stride. Dormon planted Southern species on her property and cultivated natives already blooming here and she knew how fickle nature could be, he said.


Antique tools are on display on the porch of the Briarwood log cabin.

“So, we’re going to let nature do what nature does and let it all recover,” Johnson explains. Caroline Dormon Like many women at the turn of the 20th century, Dormon taught school after receiving a degree in literature and art, but her true love was plants. When she returned to her family’s Briarwood homestead around 1917, she began to collect and study the native flowers and shrubs found throughout its woods. Dormon later received a job with the Louisiana Forestry Department and started a movement to preserve the unique forest at the heart of Louisiana. In 1930, the Kisatchie National Forest was created, spanning several central and northern Louisiana parishes and consisting of rare strands of longleaf pines. She served as a consultant for Louisiana state projects and proposed what would become the Louisiana State Arboretum, which today contains the Caroline Dormon Lodge. Louisiana schools have been named for Dormon, she received an honorary award from LSU and published numerous books. “She was a woman ahead of her time,” Johnson says. “She was the first forester of Louisiana and by some accounts, she was the first in the country.” When Dormon died in 1971, Briarwood had fallen into disrepair. A foundation was formed with the goal of opening the unique property to the public and Rick Johnson’s father, Richard Johnson, was named curator (at 90 years

Briarwood curator Rick Johnson stands in front of the two-way fireplace that was original to Caroline Dormon’s first home.

old, his father still helps maintain the property). The visitor’s center replaced Dormon’s first home with the original two-way fireplace intact; the log cabin was restored and an educational complex built. Briarwood as a Nature Preserve Briarwood is nestled off a small rural road and if not for the sign, visitors might miss it. And that’s the lure of this oasis. Soft breezes and visiting birds remain the only sounds heard walking the acreage. “We had a visitor come here and remark on how wonderful the smells were,” Johnson explains. “There wasn’t anything blooming so I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Turns out she was from Houston and she was smelling clean air.” The property opens to the public on weekends from March to May and in October and November for the waves of blooms that appear on the forest floor, species that do smell. There are native azaleas that bloom “all the way to August,” Johnson says. Dogwoods, flowering shrubs, and Louisiana irises, to name a few, also blanket the area. “The darlings of the show — the Louisiana iris — go into bloom in April, depending on the weather,” he says. Tours of the property are also available by appointment, Johnson adds. “All you have to do is contact me,” he says, adding that Briarwood has an updated Facebook page in addition to its website. DeSoto 41


Special events include the annual spring fundraising picnic, which will be held Saturday, April 4, and includes a catered lunch, live music, and tours of the log cabin and trails. Richard Johnson will spend part of the day at the log cabin to offer first-hand experiences of Dormon, Rick Johnson said. “My father was handpicked as the curator by Caroline Dormon and he holds court at the log cabin,” he explains. “He tells the tales of Miss Caroline and Briarwood and growing up in this country. Property highlights Spring visitors will discover unique native plants, but also salamanders hatching in the many ponds and migratory and resident birds singing from the treetops. All kinds of owls may be heard at night, Johnson says, and bald eagles occasionally visit. One of the property’s highlights is “Grandpappy,” the largest longleaf pine tree in Louisiana, clocking in at 40 inches in diameter and 108 feet tall. Johnson believes the old giant to be around 200- to 300-years old. The old Sparta Road that took visitors from Sparta to Winnfield, La., exists in parts, the marks from horse-drawn wagons still cut into the clay. The remains of an old plantation are also located on the property. Near the Visitor’s Center lies the bog where Dormon first planted Louisiana irises. Because the tor nado destroyed neighboring trees, the bog now receives more sunlight, which may result in a brighter display this spring. Just another example of nature doing its thing, Johnson says. “Maybe because of that storm, nature opened up an opportunity for us,” he says. briarwoodnp.org

Cheré Coen is a travel and food writer and unapologetic nature geek.

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on the road again | PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

, a l o c a Pens Florida

8:00 Come hungry to The Ruby Slipper Café on South Palafox near Pensacola Bay. Dishes such as bananas Foster pain perdu (French toast), roast beef po’boy Benedict and a Gulf shrimp omelet mix a little New Orleans flavor with old-fashioned Southern. 9:30 Start your day at the National Naval Aviation Museum, one of the world’s largest air and space museums. Visitors enjoy a variety of attractions, aircraft, and exhibits, plus witness breath-taking flight demonstrations on certain days. The museum’s free and open daily, but visitors must have a valid ID for admission. 10:30 After walking through the museum and grounds, take to the skies virtually in a simulator. The museum offers several, including the motion-based simulator where visitors fly a Navy F/A-18 Hornet performing turns and maneuvers unique to the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. There’s even a virtual trip to space. 11:30 Climb the Pensacola Lighthouse’s 177 steps for a breathtaking view of Pensacola Pass, where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. Built in 1859 and located across from the National Naval Aviation Museum, the lighthouse offers a lesson in maritime history. Like the Naval Museum, an ID is needed to enter. 12:30 Get in the Irish spirit this month at McGuire’s Irish Pub, an early 20th century New York-style saloon that’s located inside Pensacola’s 1927 Old Firehouse. Try the Reuben eggrolls filled with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese with a 1000 Island dressing. If you’re brave, sample the Irish Wake, an Old-Fashioned served in a Mason jar. 2:00 Pensacola dates back 500 years when Don Tristan de Luna arrived in 1559, claiming the area for Spain. Four other nationalities have claimed the city, giving Pensacola the name “City of Five Flags.” Visitors learn more about the city’s history at Historic Pensacola, 8.5 acres containing 28 historic properties and thousands of artifacts. 3:30 Check out works by Picasso, Warhol, Dali and more at the Pensacola Museum of Art in downtown Pensacola. Nearby are several art galleries so art lovers won’t have to travel far to get their fill. 5:30 Stop in The Kennedy in downtown Pensacola for a Mid-Century cocktail such as a Rob Roy or a dirty martini. Sharable bites include deviled eggs with pork belly, a charcuterie board or a pimento cheese sandwich. 7:00 Save your larger appetite for Flounder’s Chowder House, a Pensacola Beach restaurant that serves prime steaks and Gulf seafood but also doubles as a destination for music and family activities. There’s a pirate’s ship playground, musical entertainment, and a 15-foot Cuban raft once used to carry Cuban refugees across the Gulf from Cuba to Key West. 8:30 Head to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk next door for late-night entertainment and special events. It’s one of the best places along the Gulf to watch the sun set.

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To plan your visit: www.visitpensacola.com

Things to see! Blue Angels The Navy’s breathtaking flight demonstration squadron, The Blue Angels, starts practicing March 31 above the National Naval Aviation Museum and continues through September. When the Blues are in town, visitors can watch them practice at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. After practice on select Wednesdays, the pilots are available for photos and autographs.  Finest Beaches A trip to Pensacola isn’t complete without a stop at the Gulf beaches of Pensacola and Perdido Key, considered some of the finest in the country. Pensacola Beach sits on the livelier end of the scale while Gulf Islands National Seashore, the U.S.’s longest stretch of federally protected seashore, offers pristine opportunities for those who prefer the only noise being waves. Bands on the Beach Watching the sunset by the beach and listening to live music, it doesn’t get much better than that. Every Tuesday from April to October bands perform at the Gulfside Pavilion on Pensacola Beach beginning at 7 p.m. Visitors are invited to bring lawn chairs and picnic baskets with food and drinks available from participating vendors. You can even dance on the sand! Flags Crawfish Festival More than 16,000 pounds of boiled crawfish are served at this annual event, this year being April 26-28 in Community Maritime Park in downtown Pensacola. In addition, the festival offers a children’s area, arts and crafts, crawfish-eating contests, and the ever popular NASCRAW crawfish races. Take Me Out to the Ballgame Catch a Blue Wahoos game, the Minor League team of the Minnesota Twins, at the impressive, multi-use Blue Wahoos Stadium in Pensacola’s Community Maritime Park with views of Pensacola Bay. The season begins April 9 against Tennessee. -- Compiled by Chere’ Coen

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greater goods | SPRING BREAK

Spring Break

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1. T-shirts, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 2. T-shirts, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 3. MudPie Giant Tote, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 4. Brighton Sunglasses, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 5. Corkcicle bags and cups, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 6. Girl’s Mermaid purse, Other Side Gifts, 122 Norfleet Dr, Senatobia, MS 7. Bogg Bags, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 8. Cinda B Luggage, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 9. Viv & Lou beach towel and tote, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 10. Men’s Duffle Bag, Other Side Gifts, 122 Norfleet Dr, Senatobia, MS

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greater goods | SPRING BREAK

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1. Colorful Earrings, Upstairs Closet, 136 Norfleet Drive, Senatobia, MS 2 Totes, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 3. Inis Travel sizes with bag, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 4. Swig Skinny Can Coozies, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 5. Braclets, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 6. Teleties pony tail holders, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 7. Scout Soft Coolers, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 8. Corkcicle Canteen water bottles, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 9. Resin link crossbody and Dixon T-shirt, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR

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One Man’s

Vision and his Gospel of Beauty 46 48 DeSoto


By Mary Ann DeSantis Photography courtesy of Mary Ann DeSantis and Bok Tower Gardens

One of Florida’s most iconic landmarks, the Bok Tower, is surrounded by spectacular gardens always in bloom and filled with inspiration.

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The hills around the Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida are alive with music. Yes, there are a few hills in peninsular Florida and one of the highest is Iron Mountain, rising 295 feet above sea level. It’s there that Edward W. Bok built his famous Singing Tower, which houses a 60-bell carillon and is the pinnacle of Bok Tower Gardens. Born in Den Helder, Netherlands, in 1863, Bok came to the United States with his parents at age six but he never forgot the beauty of his native country, the glorious music from European bell towers, or the lessons he learned from his grandparents about creating a better world. After a successful career in publishing in New York, he retired in 1919 and spent more time at his winter home on one of Florida’s highest hills. In 1921, Bok commissioned landscape architect Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. to change his arid sand hill into a “spot of beauty second to none in the country.” Even with all its beauty, Bok still felt something was missing in the gardens. In 1927, he commissioned Philadelphia architect Milton B. Medary, to create the majestic Singing Tower. The bell towers of Europe inspired both Medary and Bok to create the pink marble and coquina tower in a neo-Gothic style with Art Deco flourishes. The symbolism reflects a unique Florida flavor with sculptures conveying a decidedly spiritual and natural theme. Eagles and herons, as opposed to the traditional Gothic gargoyles, are prevalent throughout the designs and the hammered brass repoussé doors represent the biblical story of the creation from the Book of Genesis. When the Singing Tower was completed in 1929, President Calvin Coolidge was on hand to dedicate it, emphasizing Bok’s own words “to make the world a bit better and more beautiful.” Bok said Bok Tower Gardens was a gift to the American people in gratitude for the opportunities that America had given him. It’s quite possible to hear the music from the carillon bells before you see the 205foot tower rising in the distance, making the experience of walking through the gardens even more magical. The gardens are as close to a vision of Eden as I can imagine. Peaceful, serene, tranquil are the words that came to mind as I meandered along the paths in the 50-acre plot filled with azaleas, camellias, and magnolias encompassed by a native oak hammock. Olmsted and his team DeSoto 51


planted a mix of native and exotic plants that could thrive in a humid climate. He also carefully selected plants that would provide a hearty supply of food and shelter for migrating birds and other wildlife in the gardens. “Edward W. Bok was a man of vision and brought to life one of Florida’s earliest attractions. His beautiful “Singing Tower” carillon has drawn visitors to Central Florida for more than 90 years,” says Kelly Rote, communications specialist for Visit Central Florida. “He went on to become a very successful businessman and eventually built Bok Tower Gardens as his ‘thank you’ to the American people for the prosperous life he was able to build here.” Bok’s Legacies If you love magazines, you may know that Edward W. Bok was editor of The Ladies Home Journal for 30 years from 1889 to 1919. Under his management, the magazine became one of the most successful and influential publications in America, and it was the first magazine in the world to have one million subscribers. Bok used his position as a champion of social causes; he was a pioneer in in the field of public sex education, prenatal education and childcare, and was an environmental activist. He never forgot his grandparents’ influence to create a better world. “His beloved grandmother always worked to instill in him a sense of gratitude and told him ‘Make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it’,” says Rote. 52 DeSoto

A prolific writer, even after his retirement, Bok’s most poignant quotes are found throughout his gardens. Those inspirational messages, such as “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you,” transcend time in the place Bok envisioned as a sanctuary for both wildlife and people. Today, the Bok Tower Gardens includes several preserves and wetlands as well as an endangered plant garden that displays rare plants from around Florida with information about how to protect them. One of my favorite locations is the well-hidden ‘Window by the Pond,” a small observatory overlooking a pond ecosystem. Visitors can quietly watch as birds, reptiles, butterflies and other creatures coexist in their natural habitat. Describing Bok Tower Gardens to those who have never visited is difficult; it’s certainly not a theme-park attraction. It’s more than a National Historic Landmark and more than a peaceful oasis of beauty in an ever-growing region of Central Florida. Perhaps Bok himself described it best: “Neither the Sanctuary nor the Tower was conceived as a memorial or as a monument… Both were erected and laid out solely and singly to express the gospel of beauty to open our eyes and awaken our senses to the beautiful. What more can the heart ask for than to be here. Beauty, beauty, beauty – everywhere and on all sides.”


Music for All Ears

The Singing Tower carillon concerts are at 1 and 3 p.m. daily with short selections also played on the hour and half-hour. The carillon schedule features live concerts by resident carillonneur Geert D’hollander from mid-October through midMay, Thursday to Sunday. Recordings from the Anton Brees Carillon Library collection can be heard the remainder of the week, as well as during the summer months from midMay to mid-October. The music selections run the gamut from classical pieces and hymns to modernday songs inspired by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Metallica, Air Supply, and more. A recent Bok After Dark concert featured music selected by Facebook fans of Bok Tower Gardens! Although the Bok Gardens are open 365 days a year, the interior of the Singing Tower is open only on select occasions. If You Go

With Central Florida’s temperate climate, any time of year is a great time to visit Bok Tower Gardens. Plan to spend an entire day because there is so much to see. Begin at the Visitors Center, where you’ll find out what’s in bloom that day and learn about Edward Bok’s life. You’ll also see how the intricate carillons were installed in the Singing Tower. The on-site Blue Palmetto Café is a budget-friendly place for salads, sandwiches, and snacks or you can bring your own picnic to eat in the designated outdoor areas. Be sure to check the online calendar for special events, like ‘Bok at Night’ or seminars and classes about gardening. Make time to visit the adjoining Pinewood Estates, a 1930s-era home constructed for Bethlehem Steel’s vice president, Charles Buck (no relation to Edward Bok). The fully decorated home and its elaborate gardens were acquired by Bok Tower Gardens in 1970. www.boktowergardens.org.

A native of Laurel, Miss., Mary Ann DeSantis serves as the managing editor of DeSoto Magazine.

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Un welcome

Guests By David Hanson Photography courtesy of Modoc Stories. Hog photo by Shutterstock

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Invasive wild hogs are threatening agriculture, wildlife, and habitats across the South.

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Charles Coleman farms a modest property where he grew up, less than a mile from the Mississippi levee outside Duncan, Miss. Coleman had seen hog damage with his squash and beans, and in the last few years the animals have rooted up corn from his fields, but the night his dog started barking through the front door was different. He shined a light into his front yard and heard grunting as he saw the hulking shoulders of a 300-pound boar 20 yards away. Keeping the dog inside, Coleman loaded his pistol and it took more than one round to put the beast down. The boar’s head is now mounted on Coleman’s kitchen wall, proving the legend and speaking to a serious issue threatening U.S. agriculture and especially in the Deep South. Invasive wild hog (aka feral swine) are known to be in at least 39 states. Farmers are reporting damage as far north as Michigan and Vermont. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that wild hogs cause more than $1 billion in annual crop loss and closer to $2.5 billion when including damage to infrastructure, wildlife habitat, automobile accidents, etc. A herd or sounder of hogs can tear up dozens of acres of freshly planted corn in a single night. They’re guilty of digging up bones and artifacts in ancient burial mounds. On the Georgia coast, researchers have opened wild hog bellies to discover baby sea turtles. The first hogs arrived in the Mississippi Delta with Hernando de Soto and his team of Spanish explorers. The men brought European pigs on their ships, depositing them on Caribbean islands and then Mississippi River islands as they traveled inland. The hogs, remarkably smart, tough and resourceful, could fend for themselves anywhere. Because hogs begin breeding at six months of age and produce up to 14 piglets per litter, twice a year, they made for a rich, renewable protein source. The early explorers simply went into the woods with a gun and came back with food. Those men are long gone but their pigs are not. Thirty miles due north of Coleman’s land, Scott Jinks manages 5,600 acres of rice, soybeans, and corn for Grace Ag Partnerships. Like at Coleman’s place, you can see the Mississippi levee from the property, a low hump out of place amidst the pancake flat Delta floodplain. One side of the large farm abuts the Dahomey DeSoto 57


National Wildlife Refuge, its 15 square miles of rugged hardwood forests perfect hog habitat. Jinks, who hails from Louisiana, describes a corn planting five years ago when they planted heavy along the woods. Then it rained and they left town for the weekend. By the time Jinks’ crew returned on Monday the hogs had wiped out 75 acres of corn. “They didn’t hardly skip a row,” Jinks recalls. “We started hunting them at night, but the more we hunted them the smarter they got. We had a major hog infestation and we didn’t know what to do. Eventually we called Carson over at the USDA Wildlife Services.” Carson Nelson, feral swine coordinator for the USDA Wildlife Services, gets those calls often. He’s tasked with supporting farmers dealing with invasive wildlife on the four million acres of Delta agricultural land. In terms of ideal wild hog habitat, the Delta, like much of the rural South, is akin to the Serengeti for pigs. The patchwork of swampy lowlands and hardwood forests amidst the vast agricultural fields offers plenty of cover, food, and corridors for safe travel once they’re spooked. “We see their damage in corn, soybeans, rye, sorghum,” Nelson says. “We even see it in cotton. All the agriculture in this state can be affected by feral swine.” Dr. Stephanie Shwiff, research economist and project leader for the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center, studies the economic impacts of feral swine around the United States and she agrees. “We haven’t been able to find a crop they don’t eat or damage,” says Shwiff. “Feral swine might not like the taste of a certain crop, but there’s always something — grub, worms, roots — around the crop that they eat, and in their aggressive eating they destroy the crop. “If feral hogs got African Swine Fever or foot-and-mouth disease,” Shwiff says, “it could shut our trade down. Countries wouldn’t want to trade pork products and even other live animals with us anymore. Aside from the health scare, a disease outbreak via hogs would impact big economic factors like GDP and jobs.” 58 DeSoto


Resilient, cunning and opportunistic as they are, wild hogs have gotten an assist from humans in reaching their current population boom and geographic range. Jinks doesn’t remember having hog issues on the farm where he grew up in Louisiana and now he hears of hogs back home. Coleman’s dad never worried about wild hogs in their garden a generation ago. Ironically, part of the hogs’ longterm population success owes to the fact that people like to hunt them. Hog hunting is almost as popular as deer or bird hunting to many Mississippians and sportsmen throughout the country. For decades, people have trapped and transported hogs from state to state or county to county in order to populate hunting grounds. Three or four hogs quickly becomes forty or fifty hogs. If there are crops nearby, they’ll find them. Nelson and his team, along with farmers and property owners, are not only teaming up to eradicate the hogs through thermal hunting, aerial shooting and traps, but they’re also trying to educate folks on the consequences of an uncontrolled hog population. “When we go to these farmers and hunting clubs,” Nelson says, “we really don’t have to have a sales pitch anymore. They have experienced the damage. Most of them are welcoming to assist in any kind of program, give you keys to gates, let us trap and shoot on their land. They know that what we’re trying to accomplish will ultimately benefit them.” Jinks’ farm has managed to control the hogs, for now. A season of aggressive thermal and aerial hunting has resulted in minimal damage, but he knows they’re still out there, deep in the Dahomey or foraging inside the levees or on a Mississippi River island as their ancestors did. “The hogs,” says Jinks, “eventually they’re going to be uncontrollable if something’s not come up with. Everything in this area is based off agriculture. If the farmers don’t succeed, the local community doesn’t succeed because most people either work in the agricultural industry or they’re being supplied by the food. This hog problem has real consequences.” David Hanson is a writer from Georgia who now lives in Oregon. He and his brother, photographer and filmmaker Michael Hanson, are working with the USDA on a documentary project about wild hogs in the United States.

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SHOP, EAT, STAY, PLAY! f o s d n i k l al character 60 DeSoto


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HUNGRY BEAUTY: Pitcher Plants of the Gulf Coast

By Sandra Friend Photography courtesy of Sandra Friend and John Keatley

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A fly perches on the rim of a pitcher plant and steps inside, sealing its doom

Pitcher plants survive throughout Deep South bogs, offering visitors unique glimpses into their carnivorous ways. Walking the Pitcher Plant Trail Boardwalk through Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve, we stop as Bill Rivers peels back a pitcher-shaped leaf to explain how pitcher plants trap their prey. I am only half listening, as my attention is caught by a fly. It strides back and forth atop the veined, translucent rim of a nearby pitcher plant before it peeks its head under the hood. A moment later, it disappears inside. I call the group’s attention to it.

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White-topped Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia leucophylla)

Yellow Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia flava)

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White-topped Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia leucophylla)


“It won’t be back,” says Rivers. It’s Rivers job to maintain this patch of longleaf pine flatwoods on behalf of The Nature Conservancy as their regional fire manager. Located just 4.5 miles east of the traffic circle in Abita Springs, La., the preserve is a prime example of a habitat that once blanketed the Southeast. Reduced by logging and development to only 2 percent of their original range, longleaf pine flatwoods are scarce. The savannas cradled within them are even scarcer.

Born in a Bog

Gulf Coast pitcher plants belong to the genus Sarracenia, firmly rooted in bogs, their leaves forming funnels that serve as traps. Where standing water soaks into pine needles, it creates the perfect acidic pH for pitcher plants to thrive. Add the necessary prescribed burns to remove dense underbrush, and these insect-eating plants thrive. On the Gulf Coast, pitcher plants appear in sun-drenched pine savannas within a corridor largely south of U.S. 90. Big Thicket National Preserve north of Beaumont, Texas, anchors the western end of the pitcher plant belt. On the eastern end, while showy savannas are sprinkled throughout the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, scattered bogs continue east to Jacksonville. Sarracenia also stretches southward through Florida pine savannas almost to Lake Okeechobee, and northward in bogs along the Atlantic Coast into Canada.

Fueling Growth

Carnivorous plants along the Gulf Coast take different approaches to entrapment. Sundews create traps by exuding sticky blobs at the ends of their plant hairs. Butterworts have tacky leaves like tarpaper. Bladderworts have hair-trigger trap doors that vacuum up microscopic creatures, including mosquito larvae, into their tiny bladders. Pitcher plants rely on the insect itself to enter its trap. Landing on the leafy pitcher is not enough. Nor is sitting on its mouth — I’ve been surprised by a tree frog peeking out of a pitcher plant at me. It’s the act of climbing into this slippery pit that seals the insect’s fate. What attracts insects to pitcher plants? Color and scent. Emitting chemicals mimicking flowers and fruits, they draw flies and other flying insects. Once the insect DeSoto 65


crawls inside the plant to investigate, it can’t escape the slick surface with downwardpointing hairs. It slides into a pool of digestive fluid at the bottom of the pitcher. Plants use photosynthesis to grow. So why do carnivorous plants “eat” insects? While interpreting the bog at Infinity Science Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Master Gardener Michael Burke explains this to school groups regularly. “The analogy I use with kids is gas in a car,” says Burke. “Most plants can find what they need in the environment for photosynthesis, to make ‘gas.’ Carnivorous plants live in a very nutrient poor soil and eat bugs for the nutrients that the bug contains. These nutrients are then used by the carnivorous plant to produce its own food, its own energy, through photosynthesis.”

Pitcher Plant Perspectives

When you walk into Infinity Science Center, the NASA Visitor Center for John C. Stennis Space Center, you see the Carnivorous Plants Conservatory before you reach the space artifacts. This gallery shows off insect-eating species from around the world, including the famous Venus flytrap, which is native to bogs within a tiny radius of Wilmington, N.C. The gallery is a natural extension of what lies between Infinity Science Center and Interstate 10 — a pine savanna with a pitcher plant bog at its heart. Along the Biome Boardwalk, interpretive panels point out the species within the bog. Naturalist Mark LaSalle volunteers where pitcher plants grow in eastern Mississippi. “Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Point has a trail through a wet pine savanna and interpretation of this habitat inside…one of the only places to see all four species of coastal pitcher plants,” he says. At Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, the visitor center showcases pitcher plants in their exhibits. Ten species of carnivorous plants thrive along the refuge nature trails. With salt breezes and the Gulf of Mexico’s waves strumming nearby, it’s surprising that pitcher plants grow in Gulf Shores, Ala. Yet on a 12-mile bike ride through Gulf State Park, my husband and I saw extraordinary habitat diversity and a bog garden at the nature center. In springtime, regularly scheduled walks lead 66 DeSoto


visitors to a wild pitcher plant bog not located on an established trail. “This hike takes people to the one of the most diverse and vulnerable habitats within Gulf State Park,” says Assistant Naturalist Farren Dell. Exiting Interstate 10 to Perdido Key, visitors pass one of Florida’s grandest pitcher plant savannas, the Perdido Pitcher Plant Prairie at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. “The original 900 acres was purchased in April 1998 due to the efforts of the ‘Friends of the Prairie’ group,” says Park Ranger Mickey Quigley. “The effort was initiated to preserve not only the whitetopped pitcher plants but the many acres of wetlands that cleanse the water flowing into the bayou and bay.” The move also preserved this beauty spot from a planned development. An accessible boardwalk and two longer trails provide views of four species of pitcher plants, which flower with rubbery red blooms each April. Pitcher Plants at Home

“The novelty of the pitcher plant is what draws people the most to fill a soggy spot or a pot,” says horticulturalist John Parker, who works at The Garden Spot in Mandeville, La. Pitcher plants also thrive in raised beds where you can control soil and dampness. Bog plants require damp roots, poor nutrients, and full sun. A 50-50 soil mix of moss and sand is best and plants should be watered from below. Avoid mineralized water. The best water source is from rain collected in a rain barrel. Buying native species helps acclimate them to your yard. It’s best to contact local nurseries to ask for plants grown along the Gulf Coast. Taking wild plants is a no-no, both ethically and for the sake of species survival. Most pitcher plant species are endangered or threatened by loss of habitat, and they do not transplant well. As Master Gardener Michael Burke says, “The only time I could justify the removal of plant material by individuals from a natural environment would be if the land is about to be bulldozed for construction.”

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Bog Hopping Along the Gulf Coast

Some of the more well-interpreted and showy stops for pitcher plants can be found at the following locations: Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve, La. Hwy. 435, Abita Springs, La. Open dawn to dusk with limited parking. Free. www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/ places-we-protect/abita-creek-flatwoods-preserve Infinity Science Center, One Discovery Circle, Pearlington, Miss. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday by admission with senior discounts on Wednesdays. www.visitinfinity.com Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR, 7200 Crane Lane, Gautier, Miss. Open dawn to dusk with the visitor center open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free. www.fws.gov/refuge/Mississippi_Sandhill_ Crane Grand Bay NERR, 6005 Bayou Heron Road, Moss Point, Miss. Open dawn to dusk with the visitor center open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free. www.grandbaynerr.org Weeks Bay Reserve, 11300 U.S. 98, Fairhope, Ala. Open dawn to dusk with the visitor center open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free. www.outdooralabama.com/lands/weeksbay-reserve Gulf State Park, 20115 Ala. 135, Gulf Shores, Ala. Open dawn to dusk with the nature center open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free. www.alapark.com/parks/gulf-state-park Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park, 2401 Bauer Road, Pensacola, Fla. Open 8 a.m. to sunset. $3 per vehicle. www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/ tarkiln-bayou-preserve-state-park Apalachee Savannas Scenic Byway, Apalachicola National Forest, Bristol, Fla. The 32-mile scenic drive is open 24 hours. Free. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/apalachicola

A lifelong hiker, author Sandra Friend enjoys searching for botanical beauty. She and co-author husband John Keatley encourage outdoor exploration at FloridaHikes.com

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homegrown | BUFF CITY SOAP

Southaven Store

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Krista Pennie Myers

Smell good and feel good naturally By Robin Gallaher Branch | Photography courtesy of Krista Myers

Buff City Soap was developed from a need for natural, preservative-free products and is expanding its reach across the country. Ashley Kelley, a busy wife and mother of three who handles a full-time job as a food production planner, uses a lot of soap in her life. She prefers something natural, a product lacking preservatives that can be colored and scented to her family’s preference. She chose Buff City Soap, which makes its products onsite at franchises and in full display of its customers. “It’s very nice,” Kelley says. “We didn’t have this kind of soap when we were growing up. Our kids love their smell.” Buff City Soap began, as many American businesses

do, with an idea to meet a need. According to Krista Pennie Myers, franchise owner of Buff City Soap in Southaven, it all began with Memphis firefighter Brad Kellum, who took a shower in 2013 and felt greasy afterward. “That (the greasiness) was from the tallow, the animal fat in the commercial soap,” Myers explains. “He didn’t like it. Thinking there must be a better way to feel clean, he decided to make his own soap. After many experiments, he struck a balance among palm, olive, and coconut oils.” The blend Kellum created goes into all Buff City’s DeSoto 71


soaps. Color, scent, and lye are added and the mixture is heated and poured into wooden loaf pans, two feet long. During the three-day cooling and setting process, the lye “evaporates out,” Myers explains, and the loaf hardens. Each loaf yields 14 cut bars, each of which sells for $7 and is “a little fatter than a deck of cards.” Currently, Buff City Soap has 30 stores in 10 states (17 opened in 2019 alone) and expects future expansion. The name is a play on Bluff City, a nickname for Memphis. Continuing the pun, Myers displays a lot of “naked” bars (bars without packaging) in her store, many in pyramid formations. The shop’s motto is pick up, handle, smell. Customers bring their selections to the checkout counter where Myers packages them and applies stickers showing label, weight, and ingredients. Meg Green, a TV producer for Channel 5 in Memphis, uses Buff City products as gifts to family and friends. Her current favorite scent is love potion. “They lather beautifully,” Green says. “They smell amazing. They don’t leave a residue on your skin. They’re absolutely natural.” Angela Denton, another Buff City regular, says she’s currently “tossed” about her favorite scent but leans toward unicorn. She’s found that Buff City soaps “last a good little while, about a month” and declares she’s not returning to the grocery store soap product she used for years. Buff City’s customers — especially children — enjoy the hands-on soap making process. A soap maker wears lavender gloves and gets personally involved in creating Buff City products. “It’s a wow factor,” Kelley says with a smile. Adult customers (one must be 18 to handle lye) can schedule soap-making parties. For $50 per person, adults can don those lavender gloves, make soap, and take home five-to-seven bars, Myers says. For $200, a party of 10 children can wiggle into smaller gloves, make bath bombs, and take home five-to-seven products each. Soap made onsite has its advantages. Customers can see that the scents 72 DeSoto


used are essential oils and every soap bar plant-based. “You know what you’re putting on your body,” Myers says. “It’s soap without alcohol and detergent. It won’t hurt your skin. It won’t itch.” Scents run the gamut, including lavender, rose, magnolia, island nectar, pink sugar, clover and aloe, oatmeal honey, and sugar cookie. “Narcissist is the universal favorite, the most popular scent for both men and women,” Myers says. Using the same, make-it-onsite model, Buff City has expanded to laundry detergent. Myers likes how her clothes smell from the washer to the dresser drawer. “Even my tennis shoes smell good,” she says. Ke l l u m q u i t h i s M e m p h i s firefighting job and now devotes 100 percent of his time to Buff City Soap. Myers came to work at Buff City because she has sensitive skin and commercial soaps have made her skin itch. She tried the Buff City products and they became, as she says, “my passion.” After working in TV production for 26 years, Myers quit and bought her Southaven franchise in 2019. She has since risen to head the company’s wholesale division. “I love doing something I love and believe in,” she says. When asked to tell a story about Buff City Soap, Myers paused for two seconds and shared one that sums up her new life. “When I was at a restaurant, a woman at another table turned and whispered to me, ‘You smell so good.’” buffcitysoap.com

Robin Gallaher Branch, a Fulbright scholar, teaches adjunct classes in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Christian Brothers University in Memphis and writes for many news sources.

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southern gentleman | GARAGE SALES

Pain Free Guide to Garage Sales By Jason Frye | Photography Credits: 127YardSale.com

If you’re looking to clean out storage areas such as garages and sheds, sort your stuff, price it well, then let it go. The irony of a garage sale is that in order to sell things from the garage, you’ll need to clean the garage, organize the garage, and store all of your garage sale items in the garage before you can sell a single thing. At your garage sale. It’s exhausting. Call it what you will, a garage sale, a tag sale, yard sale, or rummage sale, this is a decluttering rite of passage and it’s your turn. From what I’ve seen through open garage doors, a good many of you have never held one. I know “garage sale” triggered some of you and I get it, cleaning the garage, storage unit, shed, attic or basement is among the worst household chores but it must be done whether you’re prepping for a marathon Saturday morning (that begins with five cars outside your house at daybreak, a dozen people 74 DeSoto

wandering around your yard with flashlights and you in your PJs telling them from behind the screen door that the sale doesn’t start for two more hours and “no you may not peek under that tarp while I finish setting up”) that’ll net you a few extra bucks or whether it’s necessary because you can only fit a bicycle in your two-car garage. Fear not, we’ll get you there. After all, a garage sale and all the work to prepare for it isn’t the end of the world. We asked around for the best do’s and dont’s when it comes to garage sale prep and we’re going to make things a little easier for you. Before you start on that garage cleanout, can you get out of it altogether? Will the D3 Solution – Distract, Deflect, Delay – work here? You know D3, you’ve used it. Remember at


Thanksgiving when your out-of-town Aunt Debbie asked you a pointed question about Trump/Hillary/Obama/Bush and you distracted her with a compliment about the green bean casserole she brought, then pivoted quickly to deflection and asked her how she fried those onions on top so perfectly (when you knew good and well those were French’s Onions from a can) and then delayed by asking your in-town Aunt Debbie to pass the gravy? Could something similar work here? No? Damn. You’re cleaning the garage and selling it all for a nickel a pound. Where do you start? You need a plan. Don’t take my word for it though, listen to the expert. The world’s longest yard sale runs for 690 miles from Michigan to Georgia, passing through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama along the way, and this four-day extravaganza (Aug. 6-9 this year) known as the 127 Yard Sale draws hundreds of thousands of bargain hunters. According to Josh Randall with 127YardSale.com, “it’s always best to have a plan. Don’t decide last minute to have a yard sale, that will only lead to poor results and unnecessary stress.” Begin with four piles: Keep (you’re keeping it), Sell (might as well make some money off your old lawn mowing shoes), Donate (it probably won’t sell even at a weekend-long garage sale), and Toss (those old lawn mowing shoes are actually trash). Start on one area of your garage and begin to sort things by category. “A good general rule of thumb is to think about what you haven’t used in the last year or so,” says Randall. So, unless it’s a seasonal item that gets used once a year – like Christmas lawn blow-ups or golf clubs – it’s gotta go. As you sort your stuff, straighten up behind yourself. Sweep, wipe stuff down, put the things you’re keeping into

clearly labeled boxes or totes and soon you’ll find you have a clean corner. You could even sort what you’re selling into bins marked with a price range, or package up your donation pile, making it easier to deal with later. Randall also recommends that you “make a list. Walk around your house, garage or shed well in advance of your yard sale and write down everything you plan to sell.” This will help you with the rest of the clutter – the books, the kitchen gadgetry, old clothes, games, odds and ends – that can go into the sale. This list will make pricing easier too. Price everything using the 1/3 rule: items sell best at 1/3 the purchase price or less. You’ll need approximately one million little stickers and every half-dead pen from your kitchen junk drawer, but you’ll be glad you priced everything on the day of the sale. Get plenty of change – in $1, $5, $10 bills and at least $10 in quarters – and be ready to haggle. Remember, the goal is to sell and have a clean garage, not to get the highest price per item, so unless you’re trying to sell a Rembrandt, don’t haggle too much. Once it’s over you’ll have things that didn’t sell. Donate them. Call a local charity and arrange for a pickup. Have them swing by just after your garage sale and take it all away so you can get your Saturday back on track and spend all that garage sale loot tout de suite. Jason Frye hasn’t been to a garage sale in a decade. Instead he spends his time writing food and travel stories, playing gin with his wife and giving their cat too much catnip. Follow his adventures on Instagram where he’s @beardedwriter.

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southern harmony | ABBY FRANCES

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Student by Day, Singer-Songwriter by Night By Andrea Brown Ross | Photography courtesy of Sarah Simmons of Langston Studios

Teenager Abby Frances was the 2018 Memphis Songwriter of the Year and her local fame continues to grow as one of the area’s most talented performers. In many ways, 17-year old Abby Frances Zarback of Hernando, Miss., is a typical teen. She attends the local high school, sings in the choir, is involved in the theater department, and tackles homework most nights. But by night and on the weekends, she becomes Abby Frances, award-winning singer and songwriter. Although only a young woman, Zarback has already acquired more than a decade of music experience behind her.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing,” Zarback says. “My father taught me the basics of guitar when I was just five or six years old.” Since then, Zarback has learned to play an impressive variety of instruments. Her repertoire includes guitar, piano, drums, and the ukulele. Her latest addition? She’s learning to play the violin. DeSoto 77


“I love to play just about anything I can get my hands on,” she says. “Most of them have been self-taught.” She has also been developing her songwriting skills. Her introduction with the Memphis Songwriters Association a few years ago was serendipitous. “My songwriting coach had won their competition, but she was unable to perform at the recognition ceremony,” Zarback explains. “She asked me to perform in her place. And my mother is also a songwriter. We were impressed with the organization and decided to join.” In 2018, the association recognized Abby Frances as the Memphis Songwriter of the Year. “Our organization has been around for years and we have had many talented songwriters throughout the years, but it’s extremely refreshing to hear someone of Abby’s caliber in an intimate setting or writer’s night,” says Amber Rae Dunn, vice-president of the association. “She has been incorporated into many of our showcases due to her old soul approach to the common teenage mind. When she won our showcase at the tender age of only 15, we knew we had a true talent on our hands.” There is an ebb and flow to Zarback’s songwriting. “It depends on the song,” Zarback says. “I have many, many bits and pieces of songs and lots of voice recordings on my phone. Sometimes it only takes 10 minutes, other times it may take up to a year.” Zarback writes from personal experiences, stories she has heard, or books she has read. With her busy schedule, she tries to maximize her time off from school to use for songwriting. Her song, “Rooftop,” was inspired from a story she read where the characters were counting stars from atop a roof. Playing in the woods with her cousins on family land in Senatobia, Miss., inspired her song, “What Life was Like for Me.” Her biggest inspiration has been mega pop-star, Taylor Swift. “I can remember sitting on my grandmother’s porch, listening over and over to Taylor Swift songs on my MP3 player,” she reminisced. “I was so impressed that Taylor Swift wrote most of her songs.” 78 DeSoto


Some of her other influences include, Noah Cyrus, the younger sister of Mylie Cyrus, and James Spaite. “I would say my style is moving more towards pop, but I have tried to incorporate some of the folk style of James Spaite,” she shared, adding that she particularly enjoys her song, “Away from the City.” Her performing days also began at an early age. “In middle school, I entered a competition and sang a Taylor Swift song,” she says. “I won. I then started performing at my grandmother’s nursing home.” At the age of 12, she began looking for other opportunities to perform. Rejected at several places because of her young age, she finally landed a gig at local popular eatery, Buon Cibo. Today, she performs at a variety of gigs, from weddings to open houses for local retail shops. She also performed at last year’s Hernando Water Tower Festival and the Memphis Farmers Market. Her most memorable performance thus far is a sentimental one. It involved her inspiration behind the song, “Frances.” “I was in a competition, and one of my biggest supporters, my grandmother, was too sick to attend,” Zarback remembers. “Or, so I thought. When I stepped on the stage, I was surprised to see her in the audience. She had convinced my aunt that she was well enough to attend.” As she contemplates her future, Zarback wants a life full of music. “I’d love to earn a music scholarship to the University of Mississippi,” she says. “I’d like to study music education and choral conducting to become a high school choir teacher. And I definitely want to continue to play and perform, too.” To learn more about Abby Frances and her local performances, follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Her music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and You Tube.

Andrea Brown Ross is freelance writer based in Como, Miss.

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in good spirits | GINGER SPARKLER

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Celebrating Our Green Heritage By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Jameson Irish Whiskey

Ireland is known for its whiskey, not green beer, so a toast to St. Patrick should include this special sparkler. St. Patrick’s Day is a bit of a conundrum in America. We tend to party more on this day than the Irish do in Ireland. The blue waters of the Chicago River running through America’s third largest city turn an emerald tint. Politicians of Creole heritage hand out paper flowers in exchange for kisses on the streets of New Orleans. And the wearing of the green happens all month in Savannah, including its coveted parade attracting half a million people, the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world (the first is New York City!). It’s not that Americans aren’t Irish — a little more than 10 percent of the country’s population self-identifies as being of Irish descent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In real numbers, that’s about 33 million Americans compared to Ireland’s 6.6 million residents. And it’s not that St. Patrick isn’t worthy of being celebrated. He’s the patron saint of the Emerald Isle for a good reason. St. Patrick was kidnapped from his home in Roman Britain to work as a slave in Ireland and after he escaped he returned to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. In addition, St. Patrick was said to have rid the island of snakes and that would have made any man a saint. (The island actually never had snakes but that’s a minor point.) St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17, considered the date of St. Patrick’s death, and the official Christian feast day doubles as a chance to honor Irish heritage and culture. Because the event exists within the period of Lent, some restrictions on feasting and drinking were lifted by the church, which is why St. Patrick’s Day also arrives with drink specials, green beer, and Irish revelry. Whatever the reason to celebrate, and regardless of a person’s DNA, St. Patrick’s Day remains a major party in America. In regards to libations, most people associate St. Patrick’s Day with drinking Guinness, an Irish stout that’s

popular around the world and synonymous with all-things Ireland. Some Southern bars, particularly those with an Irish bent, will import the dark beer to serve on tap. Others simply dye American beer green to serve from kegs on St. Patrick’s Day. Since it’s a celebratory party on a grand scale, fancy cocktails are usually never considered. However, Ireland is also known for its whiskey. We asked the folks at Jameson, who have been producing an Irish whiskey since the 1700s, to offer a unique and refreshing spring cocktail for the day. The following sparkler mixes the company’s Black Barrel brand with ginger beer, that’s topped off with a sparkling wine. It’s sure to make anyone shout, “Erin go Bragh!” Jameson Ginger Sparkler 1 1/2 parts Jameson Black Barrel 1/2 parts lemon juice 1/2 parts simple syrup 1 1/2 parts ginger beer 1 1/2 parts sparkling wine topper Lemon wheel or rosemary sprig for garnish Directions: Pour all ingredients except for the sparkling wine and garnish in a shaking tin. Add ice and shake, then strain as you pour into a highball glass. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon wheel and a rosemary sprig.

Cheré Coen is a native of New Orleans and thus, a lover of cocktails. Her roots hail back to Mississippi, however, which may be why she loves Four Roses bourbon as much as Faulkner.

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exploring events | MARCH

Disney’s Lion King Jr. Through March 8 Panola Playhouse Sardis, MS Directed by Daniel Thompson. Lion King Jr. tells the story of the epic adventures of a curious cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destiny as king. For tickets visit panolaplayhouse.com or call 662-487-3975. Grammy Museum Mississippi presents Stronger Together: The Power of Women in Country Music Through August 30 Grammy Museum Cleveland, MS Stronger Together: The Power of Women in Country Music will take visitors on a journey through the history of women in country music, from the early years and post-World War II, to the emergence of Nashville as a country music mecca. For more information visit grammymuseumms.org or call 662-441-0100. Winter Jam 2020 March 6 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:00pm For more information visit landerscenter.com, call 662-470-2131 or visit Ticketmaster.com. Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends LIVE March 6 Horseshoe Casino Tunica Resorts, MS 8:00 pm Purchase tickets at ticketmaster.com. Disney on Ice presents Dream Big March 12 - 15 Landers Center Southaven, MS For more information visit landerscenter.com, call 662-470-2131 or visit Ticketmaster.com. Build a Bird a Home March 13 JP Coleman State Park Iuka, MS 10:00am - Noon For more information call 662-423-6515. Tracy Morgan: No Disrespect March 13 Horseshoe Casino Tunica Resorts, MS 8:00 pm Purchase tickets at ticketmaster.com.

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Natchez Spring Pilgrimage March 14 - April 14 Natchez, MS For tickets and more information visit natchezpilgrimage.com or call 800-674-6742. America 50th Anniversary March 15 Orpheum Theatre Memphis, TN 7:00pm For tickets visit orpheum-memphis.com or call 901-525-3000. Cher March 16 FedEx Forum Memphis, TN 7:30pm For tickets visit Ticketmaster.com. Classic Southern Tea March 21 Cedar Oaks Historial House Oxford, MS 2:00pm For more information visit facebook.com/cedar oaks historic home or cedaroaks.org. Boots & BBQ March 21 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:00pm - 11:00pm For more information visit thearcnwms.org or call 662-510-8989. Sturgill Simpson: A Good Look’n Tour March 22 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:30pm For more information visit landerscenter.com, call 662-470-2131 or visit Ticketmaster.com. Creative Aging’s Senior Arts Series Presents Abridged rendition of Playhouse on the Square’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ March 25 Lindenwood Christian Church’s Stauffer Hall Memphis, TN 1:30pm For more information visit creativeagingmidsouth.org or call 901-272-3434.


80th Columbus Spring Pilgrimage March 26 - April 4 Columbus, MS In addition to the more than 650 National Register properties and three National Register Historic Districts, the 2020 Pilgrimage embraces and celebrates all of Columbus’ history as it serves up a feast of irresistible cultural flavors. Come join us! For tickets and more information visit www.visitcolumbusms.org or call 800-920-3533. Leann Rimes March 27 Gold Strike Casino Tunica Resorts, MS 9:00 pm Purchase tickets online or by calling the Gold Strike Box Office at 888-747-7711. Behind the Big House Tour April 2 - 4 Holly Springs, MS Journey through Holly Springs’ slave dwellings for a look at the other side of Antebellum life. For more information on tickets and schedule of events, visit preservemarshallcounty.org or call 901-336-4090.

45th Aberdeen Spring Pilgrimage April 3 - 5 Aberdeen, MS For more information visit aberdeenpilgrimage.com or call 662-369-9440. 16th Annual Mudbug Bash April 4 Panola Street Hernando, MS 6:00pm Benefiting Palmer Home for Children. Featuring food & libations, auction and live music. Fore more information visit palmerhome.org. Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival April 4- 5 Renaissance at Colony Park Ridgeland, MS A juried fine arts festival featuring 100 artists from across America, plus live music and children’s art activities. Other weekend events include Sante South Wine Festival and Cheers and Gears Bike Ride. For more information visit ridgelandartsfest.com.

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reflections | REMEMBERING MOM’S ROSES

Remembering Mom’s Roses Story and photography by Pamela A. Keene

As a kid, gardening with my mom filled many days. She grew perennials and annuals plus flowering shrubs such as camellias, azaleas, and gardenias at our north Florida home. But her pride and joy – her roses – always kept me the most enthralled. Jackson & Perkins introduced the deep orange aromatic hybrid tea Tropicana to the U.S. in 1962. Several years later our local nursery, owned by our next-door neighbor, offered them for sale and Mom was the first in line. She added it to others in the garden: the fragrant burgundy Mirandy, the cream-and-pink Peace, and my dad’s favorite deep-red Mr. Lincoln. As an adult, my landscape has always been graced by at least one hybrid tea rose garden in honor of my mom. When my husband Rick and I built our home in North Georgia 14 years ago, we carved out two large sunny places to plant my hybrid teas. We named our property “Rose Lane” in honor of my mother, whose given name was Rosa. Those 14-year-old rose beds have been expanded several times. Each January, I can’t resist flipping through the catalogs and websites to see what’s new. However, I wait until area nurseries bring out their roses – or our local Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale – to make my selections for the new year. Today, I have more than 40 varieties from the showy and boldly scented deep orange Dolly Parton and the elegant two-toned Louise Estes to the deeply perfumed pink Memorial Day and the profusive bloomer Sedona. There’s two Mr. Lincolns, a tip of the hat to my dad, pink Tiffany, the pure84 DeSoto

white Pope John Paul, and the breast-cancer commemorative “Pink Promise,” perhaps the most vigorous of all. From early May until the first hard freeze, I cut dozens and dozens of blossoms to share with friends, our mail lady, everyone from my doctors and dentists to the clerks at the grocery store. Last year, our home was featured on the Hall County (Georgia) Master Gardeners Biennial Garden Walk, the third time in 12 years. People came for the roses, but they were in for a surprise. Rick built a garden cottage – please don’t call it a “sheshed” – that’s nestled in our backyard under tall hardwoods. The 12-by-16 structure has more than a dozen tall windows, double glass doors, a peaked ceiling crafted of ambrosia maple, and matching built-in cabinets. It’s home to my mom’s antique wicker, which I inherited when she passed away four years ago at age 92. Named Rose Cottage, it offers a quiet space to read, have a cup of tea or enjoy the outdoors. It also provides a special place to pull out old letters and cards my mom mailed me over the years, letters recalling my time in college, as a daily newspaper editor, and as a business owner. She always offered pages of sage advice. Most of all, it reminds me of what my mom taught me all those years ago. “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” Pamela A. Keene of Flowery Branch, Ga., is a journalist/photographer who writes for magazines across the Southeast. She specializes in features, travel, gardening and personality articles.


Half the fun of Spring Break is the road trip.

2020 Toyota Tundra

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Our goal is to provide all customers from Memphis and north Mississippi the best in new Toyota models, quality used vehicles, exceptional auto repair and car service, and high-end OEM car parts. Because we are the only locally owned car dealership in Memphis, our mission is to always treat our customers and community with the care and respect that they deserve. When you are ready to purchase a new vehicle or have your own serviced, look no further than Chuck Hutton Toyota, a family-owned dealership committed to our community.

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Profile for DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South

DeSoto Magazine March 2020