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September CONTENTS 2021 • VOLUME 18 • NO. 9
New River Gorge America’s Latest National Park
Never Forget The 20th Anniversary of 9/11
Fall Football Stays Unique Accommodations for Football Season
departments 16 Living Well Natural Ways to Keep Pets Healthy 18 Notables K-9 Officer Lynn Brown
40 On the Road Again Columbus, Georgia 42 Greater Goods 62 Homegrown Longleaf Tea Company
22 Exploring Art Greg Harkins Chairs 26 Exploring Books “Come On Over!” by Elizabeth Heiskel
64 Southern Gentleman Making Local Spirits 66 Southern Harmony John Mohead
28 Southern Roots Attracting Pollinators to the Garden
70 In Good Spirits Sarasota’s Brunch Club
32 Table Talk The Parish in Hernando 36 Exploring Destinations North Alabama Mountains
72 Exploring Events 74 Reflections Mississippi’s Teddy Bear
editor’s note | SEPTEMBER
All About Fall
Fall remains my favorite time of year. I can’t decide if it’s college football starting up (Geaux Tigers!), temperatures finally decreasing, or the sounds of nature returning when I finally reopen my windows. I always pull the sweaters out of my closet too early — usually when it’s still high 80s outside, — but they’re there at the ready, as soon as that first cold front arrives. And oh, when that first chill makes its presence known, I swear I can hear the angels sing. Southern angels, naturally, since those up North probably don’t feel the excitement as we do. If you’re like me and check out where your favorite football team is visiting this time of year, don’t miss our feature by Tracy Morin on unique accommodations in Southern collegiate towns. There’s something for everyone, from tiny houses in Hattiesburg, Miss., to the new Graduate Knoxville Hotel that’s covered in University of Tennessee orange. Fall is also an excellent time to get outdoors, and some of the finest spots to hike and enjoy other fresh air activities are state parks and the National Parks Service. (That’s me enjoying the last of the wildflowers at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.) Our veteran writer Jason Frye recently scaled the 3,030-foot catwalk under the massive bridge at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve His feature in this month’s issue showcases our country’s 63rd and newest national park.
SEPTEMBER 2021 • Vol. 18 No.9
PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Melanie Dupree EDITOR Cheré Coen ASSISTANT EDITOR Casey Hilder
On a sad note, we recognize the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack which took the lives of so many Americans in New York City, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. Mary Ann DeSantis takes us inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in New York, reminding us that we should never forget that tragic morning 20 years ago. And that’s just the tip of the pumpkin heading into fall. Despite what the thermometer says, our issue full of autumnal tales will make you want to pull out your sweaters, too. Happy Fall, y’all!
on the cover
Photographer Gary Hartley captures the arrival of fall at the New River Gorge Bridge. Courtesy of the National Parks Service.
CONTRIBUTORS Michele Baker Cheré Coen Mary Ann DeSantis Jackie Finch Jason Frye Verna Gates Warren Johnson Pamela A. Keene Debi Lander Michael Lee Tracy Morin Karen Ott Mayer Jan Risher Karon Warron Kevin Wierzbicki PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com SUBSCRIBE: DeSotoMagazine.com/subscribe
DeSotoMagazine.com ©2021 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at DeSoto 11 desotomagazine.com.
living well | HOLISTIC TREATMENTS FOR PETS
The Natural Touch By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of chewshappiness.com
Holistic treatments for pets may be the right course of action, but be sure to discuss with professionals first. Any pet owner will tell you that pets are a part of the family, so it’s no wonder they want us to treat them like family. That means providing the best care possible to keep them healthy. And, just like with many of us humans, many pet owners are taking a more natural approach to pet care. These include using natural foods to alleviate certain conditions, employing such techniques as acupuncture and aromatherapy to provide both physical and mental relief, and supplementing their diet with coconut oil. Natural foods provide natural relief A common problem due to disease, infection or parasites, diarrhea is as unpleasant for your dog as it is for you. While you should always talk to your veterinarian before implementing any treatment for diarrhea, pumpkin could help reduce the problem. This fiber-rich food can absorb water, adding bulk to your pet’s stool, according to the American Kennel Club. 18 DeSoto
Another food that can help with not only diarrhea but also deliver good digestive health is goat’s milk, says Carolyn Reeder, store manager at Hollywood Feed, a natural and holistic pet food merchant in Oxford (with locations also in Southaven and Olive Branch). Goat’s milk contains probiotics and prebiotics, which can help ease stomach discomfort when switching foods for your pet, Reeder explains. Elderberry and honey can boost your pet’s immune system, Reeder says. Using an immune health system such as Prudence Absolute Immune Health can help your pet stay healthy and free of digestive distress. While garlic has been said to help keep fleas away from cats and dogs, Reeder doesn’t recommend it. In fact, she says some dogs are allergic to garlic. Likewise, while some say cranberry juice can help bladder infections in cats, Reeder says it will be hard to get them to drink it. The better choice, she says, is ample water. Cats don’t routinely drink much water on their own, Reeder explains, but if you make it attractive, such
as in a tabletop fountain, they are more likely to drink it. Natural supplements aid in prevention Like humans, dogs need a variety of vitamins to help their bodies function properly. These include vitamin A, several B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and choline. However, dogs require different amounts of these vitamins than humans, with those amounts changing over time as they grow. Most dogs get all the vitamins they need if you are giving them dog food geared to their age and size, according to the American Kennel Club. That’s why dog food is sold targeted at puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs, and large dog breeds. Be careful not to give your dog extra vitamins unless your veterinarian instructs you to do so. And, if your dog does need extra vitamins, it’s possible you may be able to supply those through fruits and vegetables instead of a supplement. Arthritis is a condition that afflicts many dog breeds, so Reeder recommends giving your dog coconut oil, which can help alleviate arthritis pain in older dogs or dogs with hip and/ or joint problems. She gives her dogs 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per day in their dog food. She says it also can promote a healthy coat. In addition, if you put it on your cat’s paws so they can lick it, it may help prevent hairballs.
help relieve pain as well as improve blood circulation, reduce anxiety, and reduce inflammation. Likewise, aromatherapy can aid relaxation in dogs when various scents are added to the air through essential oils diffusers or scented candles. However, it’s important to note that some essential oils are toxic for dogs, cats, birds, and other pets, says the American Kennel Club, so talk with your veterinarian before introducing these into your home. In fact, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before starting any of these procedures, and, when you do, seek out a professional who is experienced in working with dogs. Caring for your pet with a natural touch is a great way to help your pet live a long and healthy life. However, before starting any new natural treatments for your pet, talk with your veterinarian to make sure your choices will be the best option for your furry friends.
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon Warren covers lifestyle, health and wellness, and travel topics for numerous print and online publications. Her childhood pet was Mai Tai, a brown and white Llasa Apso, who she misses very much.
Natural treatments ease pain and anxiety Not surprisingly, some of the same natural techniques we humans rely on for relief also work for our dogs. For instance, chiropractic treatments can relieve pain and improve agility, per the American Kennel Club. Acupuncture also can DeSoto 19
notables | NORTH MISSISSIPPI'S K-9 UNITS
Bite class Drug detection
An Officer’s Best Friend Story and photography by Mike Lee
The four-legged friends of the boys in blue help patrol the streets of North Mississippi. They normally ride in police and sheriff’s department vehicles, plying city and county streets of major metropolitan centers, the vehicles clearly marked “K-9” with a warning to keep away. And for good reason, because these dogs are not pets. The dogs are working animals, and they serve law enforcement in Desoto County and beyond. But what does it require to take a dog from what we know, to become a valued and highly trained crime-fighting asset? Most people have no idea the hours or the expense involved. K-9 officer and instructor Lynn Brown of the Hernando, Miss., Police Department began his career in 1994 as a member of the Horn Lake Police Department. While there, Brown was assigned to the U.S. Military Special Ops to train their dogs that were being deployed to Iraq. Brown accompanied them overseas for a nine-month tour of duty, though he was not officially in the military but rather “on loan.” There, he specialized in teaching military dogs how to track the enemy in close-quarter situations. Once that assignment ended, Brown returned to the Horn Lake Police Department and saw an opportunity to start a K-9 unit, and did so with only one dog. Brown’s sergeant, Scott Worsham, then got the police chief position at Hernando and took Brown with him. Together, they realized that it would
be advantageous to have an effective K-9 unit based on Brown’s experience in the military. And with Brown’s partner, Hunter Solomon, who brought his K-9 unit with him and joined Brown at the Hernando Police Department, they had the beginnings of a team. “Here at Hernando P.D., we have four handlers and dogs serving not only our city but when needed, the whole county,” Brown says. “Once I got back I restarted the K-9 basic training course, based not only on my 30-plus years in law enforcement, but my experience in Iraq.” In North Mississippi, most law enforcement dogs are imported to the United States by way of Europe through specialty kennels. They are made available to various agencies. “The dogs we get are anywhere from 14 months to two years old and they’re already experienced; because dog competitions in Europe are huge, they are well trained,” Brown says. “They learn bite-work and other skills by the time we get them, so they already have a good working foundation to build upon.” All of Hernando P.D.’s K-9 units have come from Holland with what’s called a KMPV certificate issued by the Royal Dutch Police Association. They already know how to do certain things and evidence the skills they are required to know. But through a basic training program here in Hernando, DeSoto 21
the dogs are taught what’s necessary in their new environment to be an effective police dog. “We don’t try to change what they’ve already learned as far as voice commands,” Brown says. “They’ve usually had a year or so learning how to respond to situations in a European language, often Dutch or German, or East European, and we continue to use those commands. We do, though, add a couple of English words, like ‘come’ so that the dog learns that he’s to come to the officer either for correction or for reward.” K-9 officers constantly monitor their dog’s diet, water, break times, and weight. Their food is not full of fillers, like commercial dog food, but mostly a protein-packed all-meat diet because, after all, they’re athletes. The dogs are fed usually once a day, at end of the day, and all K-9 vehicles are air conditioned and left running constantly for the dogs’ comfort. The K-9 dogs ride in enclosed portions of the vehicles and have blankets or beds. Though its easy to picture German Shepherds like the famous Rin Tin Tin as the standard breed of police dog, successful K-9 unit can come from a variety of breeds. “Some of the dogs we purchase are Belgian Malinois, occasionally a German or Dutch Shepherd,” Brown says. “But we prefer the Malinois. Some dogs are bred for best features and traits, and they work just fine. However, all of the best dogs are bred in Europe where the best bloodlines are.” Although the police and sheriff ’s departments have funds available for purchasing a K-9 unit, the dogs are not cheap by any means. “Dogs can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $13,000, maybe even more depending on how far the dog has advanced through training and the related kennel costs, how much it cost to fly the dogs from Europe to the U.S., get them through customs and more,” Brown says. “All of which adds to the final price for the dog.” Mike Lee is a writer, photographer, artist, and poet. He lives in Hernando, Miss.
exploring art | GREG HARKINS’ HANDMADE CHAIRS
A Greg Harkins highchair for babies
The Art and Craft of Bodging Chairs Michele D. Baker | Photography courtesy Claire Hansen, Sam King and Michele Baker
A Mississippi native makes furniture by hand to last a lifetime, just like his ancestors and mentors taught him. Each of Greg Harkins’ handmade chairs comes with a guarantee: as long as he lives, Harkins will repair or replace each one he has made. Given that he started nearly 50 years ago, even he can’t guess how many chairs that adds up to. What Harkins does remember with daily gratitude is the line of chair-makers stretching back to the 1800s, revered forerunners whose techniques he has worked hard to master and to pass forward. After graduating from Mississippi State, Harkins assumed he would continue to graduate school. In the meantime, he moved into a cabin near Canton on property originally owned by his great-great-great-grandparents. There, he connected with a master chair-maker who took him under
his wing. Three years later, Harkins had forgotten all about college. A bodger is a master wood craftsman and chair-maker. Harkins began as an apprentice under bodger Tom Bell, who made his living building chairs for 67 years, much of that time without electricity in his shop. “Tom used to make almost 200 chairs per month and sell or trade them from the back of a horse-drawn wagon,” says Harkins. “He was 11 years old when he and his brother began making chairs. I don’t make that many because I usually work alone.” Now 45 years later, Harkins is the master, preserving a level of craftsmanship rarely seen in these days of mass DeSoto 25
production. He cuts the trees, mills the lumber, turns all parts by hand — albeit on an electric lathe in an air-conditioned shop on his property — and assembles chairs and other furniture using shrink-fitting techniques passed down through centuries. Each piece is hand finished, dated, and signed and the result is extremely durable furniture of heirloom quality. Harkins is only now receiving requests for repairs on some chairs that he built four decades ago. Like Bell before him, Harkins hand-picks trees for lumber to make his chair parts. “About two-thirds of my chairs come from walnut or bodock (Osage orange) trees, but oak and hickory are popular, too,” says Harkins. Each chair takes approximately 25 hours to make, and a good-sized tree can yield up to eight chairs. The backs and bottoms of the chairs are woven by hand using either cane or hickory bark. “I’m influenced by the old ways my great-grandparents used,” Harkins says. “My grandmother was a guiding light in my life. People back then had a vast amount of knowledge and they built things to last. That’s my way, too.” In the early days, Harkins was making upward of 1,700 chairs a year, but they were selling for less than $100. Now he makes about 150 chairs a year but they sell for $1,000 and up; a nice bodock rocker is about $3,000. “In the early 1980s, Southern Living ran one small column with a picture of me working,” he remembers. “That article brought me $150,000 worth of business. But I was selling my chairs back then for only about $90. Can you imagine how many chairs I had to make that year? It was astronomical.” The popularity of his furniture endures, as Harkins was featured in a 2020 episode of HGTV’s “Home Town” (Season 4: “There’s Just Something About a Porch”), where Harkins and show host Ben Napier built a bench for the wraparound front porch of a home in the country near Laurel, Miss. 26 DeSoto
Also impressive is Harkins’ client list, which includes celebrities and U.S. presidents including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. “Pope John Paul II also had one of my chairs, and I made chairs for Obama and Trump, although they were never picked up,” he says. Although his staple is a standard rocking chair, Harkins also makes straight-back chairs, nursing rockers with one short arm (also called “guitar rockers”), double rockers, and rockers with bassinets attached. He also makes tables, beds, and chests of drawers. Each piece is unique and will last a lifetime — maybe longer. “If you make it right, you can’t tear it up, even if you tried,” Harkins says with a laugh. In 2021, Harkins began to pass along his knowledge to Lance Felton. “I met Greg when I was 14 years old,” says Felton, who comes to the shop every day to build chairs and learn about woodworking. “Then, over 40 years later, I ran into him again, but I never dreamed I’d become his apprentice.” Felton is learning all aspects of the craft, including the art of making solid furniture without nails or glue. “Greg told me that the chair tells you how to put it together, if you just listen to it,” Felton says. He is also writing down the knowledge so it won’t be lost. In the end, it all comes down to simple ideas, says Harkins: to pass along the knowledge to the next generation and to take no shortcuts. “As Tom Bell once told me, ‘Build the best chair you can build, and you’ll never run out of customers,’” he says. HarkinsChairs.com
Michele D. Baker is a freelance travel writer and blues music lover in Jackson, Miss. She also loves cats, books, and sitting in her grandmother’s rocking chair. Visit her at www.MicheleDBaker.com.
exploring books | COME ON OVER!
The Everyday Special By Jan Risher Photography courtesy of Angie Mosier
Elizabeth Heiskell encourages her cookbook readers to celebrate each day — including those football weekends — and offers unique Southern recipes to complement tailgating events. A quick conversation with Elizabeth Heiskell is all the proof one needs to know that in her world, every day is indeed a party. Her new cookbook, “Come on Over: Southern Delicious for Every Day,” oozes charm and captures her festive spirit. “The whole premise of this book is to encourage people to celebrate every day,” Heiskell says. “Why not celebrate every day? Even a Wednesday should be celebrated.” Heiskell has divided her new cookbook’s recipes into nine sections of food for themed days — weekdays, party days, Delta days, summer days, beach days, game days, school days, diet days, and cheat days. Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Heiskell started her culinary journey at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She then worked her way to lead culinary instructor at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Miss., at the headquarters of the Viking Range Corporation. In 2011, she moved from the Delta to Oxford, Miss., where she manages her catering company. In addition, she and her husband, Luke, run Woodson Ridge Farm with a little help from their three girls. Heiskell says during the worst of the pandemic and 28 DeSoto
Come On Over: Elizabeth Heiskell’s latest cookbook i “Come on Over: Southern Delicious for Every Day.”
quarantine, she and her husband took the catering company back to its roots. “We changed our focus very quickly. We went to back to what we did when we started: a meal delivery service,” Heiskell says. “We delivered to Memphis and Oxford two days a week and continued to do that until the world opened back up. These days, we are as busy as we’ve ever been” This fall, Heiskell says she and her team are excited about celebrating events large and small, Mississippi style. “On game days in Oxford, we do it to a whole different level,” Heiskell says. “However, I believe every football game should be celebrated, not just the ones in the Grove. Around here, whether we are tailgating for football, baseball or anything else, it’s definitely an art.” Heiskell offers six tips for improving your next tailgating experience: 1. Make sure the food is easy to hold. “You’re going to have a drink in one hand and need to be able to reach something else with the other,” she said, recommending the PB&J chicken wings featured in “Come on
3. For a newbie tailgater, she recommends creating a nacho bar. “Nacho bars are fun and super quick,” she says. “In fact, you can purchase most of the items to include at the grocery.” She calls those “purchaseand-put-out nachos.” Then, include those cute little paper boats for everyone to use. Buy the chips, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded rotisserie chicken, grated cheese, black olives, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and more. Heiskell says suggests using an array of cute bowls to display the variety. 4. For early games, Heiskell recommends doing a biscuit bar to help get your crown in tip-top game day form. “Once you’ve got the biscuits, creating the biscuit bar is similar to the nacho bar — purchase and put out,” she says. She recommends adding spiral-sliced ham, jezebel sauce, chicken tenders, bacon, sliced tomatoes, sausage patties, preserves, jams, jellies, honey, strawberry butter, — and the list goes on and on. Elizabeth Heiskel: Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Elizabeth Heiskell makes her home now in Oxford.
5. Though some do, Heiskell says you don’t have to hang a chandelier to make your game day tailgating memorable. “Pick out a fun, vibrant tablecloth. Get some cute bamboo disposable plates,” she says. “The bottom line is people just want to be together — especially after the last few years. People are grateful to be invited. The atmosphere and energy are amazing.” 6. Create a special cocktail. “We make up special cocktails in batches — like a punch — and serve them from a dispenser,” Heiskell says. “Just make sure you note that it’s for adults only.” 7. Do a specialty recipe from the opposing team. “We always have pork barbecue when Arkansas comes to town,” she says. “For Alabama, we cover the table in peanuts.” All in all, Heiskell hopes her new cookbook will remind people that every day is worth putting in some extra effort to enjoy with others. “There are a hell of a lot more Mondays in a year than New Year’s Eves,” she says. “What are you waiting for? Pull out your favorite linen napkins, good china or fun glassware. Those special pieces can bring such joy.” littmanwrites.com
PB&J: The sweetness of the jelly, the earthiness of the peanut butter and the spicy Sriracha of the PB&J Wings make this a wonderful tailgating dish.
Over!” “You need to be able to walk through the grove and enjoy your food and drinks.”
Jan Risher is a writer and newspaper columnist, living in Lafayette, La. Originally from Forest, Miss., she owns a public relations company and teaches online memoir writing classes. Risher is a graduate of Mississippi State.
2. A bit of practical advice: “You have to also remember, you’re not at home,” she says. “You don’t have your kitchen. Have to make sure it can sit out for hours.” DeSoto 29
southern roots | POLLINATORS
Bee on Hyssop
Pollinators make the world go ‘round By Pamela A. Keene | Photography courtesy of Pamela A. Keene and Curt Hart
Plants that attract pollinators — birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds — keep the food chain going for wildlife and humans alike. The world’s pollinators carry a heavy burden. After all, without them, the world’s population would starve and many plant species could no longer reproduce. “Pollination is vital for plants to reproduce and create enough seeds to maintain and grow their populations, so by aiding plants in producing new seeds pollinators help ensure that there’s plenty of food for wildlife and humans,” says Stephanie Green, ecologist with Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Miss. “While many people only think of bees and butterflies as pollinators, the world is filled with many others including moths, bats, beetles, ants, and even hummingbirds.” The variety of pollinators is necessary to ensure that a wide range of types of flowers, plants, trees, and crops are properly pollinated. “Aside from their value to pollinate food crops to produce food for humans, pollinators’ work yields food for
wildlife, especially in the winter months when birds, deer, and other fauna seek out food to carry them over until spring,” Green says. “Your beautiful cone flowers and ornamental grasses will turn brown when the weather gets cold, but the wildlife depends on the seeds produced from the pollinators work earlier in the year.” Nectar produced by flowers with deep throats attracts birds or insects such as butterflies that can retrieve the nectar from deep inside the flower. A side benefit is pollination. “While birds, butterflies, and insects are gathering the nectar, they are ‘accidentally’ pollinating the blossom by brushing against the pollen-bearing flower parts or vibrating the bloom to shake pollen onto the stigma to fertilize it,” Green says. “This is also called ‘passive’ pollination.” In the Mid- and Deep South, many native plants are ideal to attract pollinators. For instance, early bloomers, such as red buckeyes, attract ruby-throated hummingbirds DeSoto 31
winging north on their spring migration. As summer approaches, bee balm, purple coneflowers, blazing star, blunt-toothed mountain mint, and Joe Pye Weed bring in butterflies and bumble bees. “While people aren’t usually crazy about autumn’s goldenrod and think of it as a weed, it’s a vital part of the pollinator food chain,” she says. “Think about other fall-blooming flora, like ironweed and sunflowers. Not only do they produce pollen, those fertilized flowers turn into seeds that ensure more plants in coming years, and sustenance for wildlife.” Celebrating Hummingbirds Strawberry Plains hosts its annual festival, the 21st Annual Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration, on the weekend of Sept. 11-12. While its main purpose is to educate the public about the fall hummingbird migration, the celebration offers much more. Other activities at the event include animal shows, nature-themed arts and crafts vendors, and a chance to view ruby-throated hummers up close. The autumn native plant sale encourages visitors to expand their home landscapes with pollinator and bird-friendly plants. “This is the peak time for the hummingbird migration in our area,” Green says. “We’ll have vendors selling arts and crafts, speakers, exhibitions, a native plant sale in our nursery area, as well as researchers banding and collecting data on hummingbirds both days. It’s a great opportunity to purchase native plants best suited for our local landscape to attract a wide variety of pollinators. And the data collected through the capture and banding of the hummingbirds adds to more than 15 years of research of hummingbird migration habits through our region.” The small metal bands fitted around one of their legs are inscribed with unique identification numbers, so that if that bird is ever recaptured, information about when and where it was originally banded, its age at the time, and other biological measurements can be accessed through an international database. Each year there are a few recaptures from previous years, proving that if the proper habitat is available they will return to the same areas year after year. Bring Pollinators to Your Landscape Creating a pollinator habitat in your own landscape can be a fun way to help nature. Green suggests starting with native plants, those that are indigenous to your area. “When considering plants for your landscape, aim to provide a combination that covers every season,” Green says. “Plant a mixture of nectar-producing plants and those heavy with pollen so that you’ll attract a range of pollinators. We strongly recommend focusing on native plants to attract pollinators.” Perennials, such as rudbeckia, tickseed, milkweeds, and lobelias give back big rewards, coming back each year. Some reseed themselves; others resprout from last year’s roots. For a vertical attractor, grow trumpet vines, cross vines, or natives like coral honeysuckle. Shrubs like American beautyberry, hollies, and huckleberries may have small flowers, but they produce berries to feed birds and wildlife. Include some fragrant flowers in the landscape, such as native mints and scarlet or blue sage, which can attract pollinators to your garden. And to ensure that your vegetable garden brings in bees, butterflies, and other insects to pollinate your beans, tomatoes, and squash, planting a few brightly colored annuals, albeit nonnative, like marigolds, or zinnias can be helpful. Pollinators are important in so many ways, consider how to invite them into the landscape. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they’re working hard to ensure the continuation of plants, wildlife, and human food sources. strawberry.audubon.org Atlanta-based journalist Pamela A. Keene is a master gardener and photographer who enjoys getting up close to pollinators in her landscape with her camera. This year, she added annuals to her food gardens and saw a marked increase in her harvest of heirloom tomatoes and blueberries.
table talk | THE PARISH
The Parish in Hernando By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Adam Mitchell and The Parish
Miles McMath pays homage to Louisiana seafood and rural dishes in his new Hernando restaurant, The Parish. For anyone who has lived in North Mississippi for the last 20 years, the name Miles McMath means only one thing: good food. And not just any kind of food, but culinary traditions that are as rooted in the land as he is in the kitchen. Raised in Alabama, McMath has never strayed from his Southern roots. He’s forged his career running several area restaurants in North Mississippi and Memphis, including managing the entire kitchen at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a decade. In earlier days, he was instrumental in setting up Pearl’s Oyster House in Memphis and worked at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Most recently, McMath assumed managing Junior’s in Hernando, a well renowned meat-andthree establishment that has built a loyal following that never abated throughout 2020 and continues strong today. “The plate lunch idea for Junior’s came from the Big Star in Hernando,” McMath says. “Everyone used to go there for those lunches.”
McMath’s latest endeavor is The Parish Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Hernando. While Junior’s menu is firmly rooted in a traditional southern style, The Parish reflects the best of rural Louisiana and McMath’s personal enthusiasm. Fresh coastal seafood is brought in daily, including crab claws, shrimp, fresh fish, and of course, fresh oysters. And then there’s McMath’s rich andouille gumbo roux that resembles chocolate pudding. “I make it in 10-gallon batches, adding chopped oysters and shrimp,” he says. For the adventurous, fresh turtle soup awaits. McMath doesn’t stop there, however, adding a crème brûlée as a final choice. “I’ve always loved making crème brûlée,” he says. The oyster bar serves up ice cold raw oysters or chargrilled with butter, sherry, and Romano cheese. Rounding out the menu are soups, salads, catfish plates, seafood platters, DeSoto 35
and boiled crawfish and crab. In a throwback to his earlier days 20 years ago in Hernando, he offers the Timbeaux Salad, a mixture of fresh greens, bacon, a hard-cooked egg, tomatoes, green onions, and croutons tossed in a blue cheese dressing. McMath chose the name for his latest restaurant for a reason — it’s an homage to St. Bernard Parish next to New Orleans. “It’s known as ‘The Parish’ and I spent a lot of childhood memories eating on the west end of New Orleans,” he says. He also preferred that the 60-seat restaurant be located in a commercial strip mall, another nod to the Bayou State. “Down in Louisiana, there are these restaurants serving authentic foods but they’re in nondescript locations like strip malls or shopping centers,” McMath says. “Nothing fancy on the outside.” While the idea of tackling a new venture from the ground up may seem born from a selfish interest, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to McMath’s operations. “I have great guys who work with me at Junior’s,” he says. “They’re really good employees but it’s a small place with no room to grow. So, I opened this restaurant and they run it.” At age 50, it’s the ideal arrangement for McMath, who only wants to cook these days. “I really want to spend time just cooking and with my family,” he says. 36 DeSoto
Behind that simple wish, however, still lurks an ambition that again puts everyone else ahead of his own selfinterests — he supports men from Warriors Heart, creating work opportunities at both Junior’s and The Parish. No matter the chapters of McMath’s culinary career, the one constant has been his dedication and lifelong interest in heritage foods. His future dreams include a homestead where he can raise food, keep animals, and continue living close to the land and local food traditions. “I guess you could say I love the true traditions and learning the old ways,” he says. “Growing tomatoes, trading foods, keeping chickens or raising cows. It’s all about tracing the roots.” McMath’s three children have followed him around their entire lives, fishing with their father, hunting and cooking over open fires. Raised on poke salad, boiled pig’s feet, turnip greens with vinegar sauce, and buttermilk cornbread, McMath has never turned his back on his childhood. “I call these taste memories,” he says. “I remember my mother’s table covered with wet wash clothes when cleaning pig’s feet.” Until McMath heads out to pasture — literally — The Parish is his home, and since its opening the response has been more than favorable. Unlike other small businesses and restaurants struggling to keep employees as of late, The Parish has remained fully staffed. Feeling grateful for the positive response and resolved to continue cooking, McMath never wavers. “We’re very proud of our work and product,” he says. The Parish only serves supper and reservations aren’t required, although tables fill up fast and hosts regularly maintain wait lists.
An award-winning freelance writer, Karen Ott Mayer has followed Miles McMath’s culinary talents for more than 20 years, both on paper and in his restaurants.
exploring destinations | NORTHEAST ALABAMA
Trees, Trails, & Mountain Music By Verna Gates | Photography courtesy of Alabama Tourism, John Dersham and Verna Gates
Northeast Alabama comes alive in autumn with colorful foliage, outdoor attractions, and shopping and events in the quaint towns of Mentone and Fort Payne. The colors of fall match the vibrant history and characters inhabiting Lookout Mountain in North Alabama. Native Americans walked these trails and rested and celebrated in the mouth of cool caves, leaving their mark on places like Manitou Cave. Desoto State Park and Little River Canyon preserve the botanical wonderland of the state that claims the No. 4 spot in U.S. biodiversity. Music springs from the sounds of winds and waterfalls, heard in the rhythms of bands like Alabama. The crashing of waterfalls hints at the pluck of characters who carved out communities in the mountains and now carve out the old crafts plied for centuries.
Mentone The sleepy burg of Mentone invites you to slow down, sit back, and return to a time when front porches opened up to friends, as well as scenic vistas. Life is best enjoyed in the fresh, clean air where birdsong is more common than traffic noise. This “Gateway to the Appalachians” charms with its natural beauty and unique culture. During the fall, the best way to view colors is to wait at Mentone’s Brow Park for sunset. The sun’s golden orb hits the horizon in hues complimenting the explosion of leafy artistry. This public park provides picnic tables for a snack, cup of coffee or a glass of wine to toast the celestial event introducing nightfall. DeSoto 39
On Sunday morning, join in a rock-solid church service at the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel, which was carved out of a giant boulder that forms a wall, inside and out. Built by Sally’s grieving husband, the chapel stands as a testimony to everlasting love. Mentone’s delightful downtown area is dotted with craft shops and restaurants. Stroll along Log Cabin Village and pop into craft and vintage shops. Across the street at The Gourdie Shop visitors will find gifts, jewelry, and the proper cape to wear to the midnight gathering of the coven. A Gourdie — whimsical creatures made from gourds — is defined as a “friend to tell a secret to … to share your dreams that can come true, unique and original just like you!” If you have time, head down to Miracle Pottery, where Cherokee and Appalachian folk art meet. The legendary Wildflower Café embraces its hippie atmosphere with vintage cool. A burst of flowers lead you into this log cabin cafe, run by a woman known as “Moon.” Vegan options and live, local folk music round out the 1960s apparition. The loaded tomato pie entrée and old-fashioned chess pie are traditional favorites. In addition, the Hatter Café offers Southern staples for breakfast and lunch with biscuits so light, you feel like anchoring them to the plate. Mentone is also home to the Southern Herbalist, Darryl Patton, who spent years studying with Tommie Bass, a famed traditional herb doctor. Patton continues the tradition in his new Mentone studio by mixing tinctures and teaching herbal medicine classes and foraging. 40 DeSoto
Outdoors Attractions Nearby Desoto State Park offers cabins with views and hikes from the stroll to strenuous. A deep waterfall creases the basin as it comes alive with fall color. The hikes take you through wildflower laden trails and breathtaking vistas. Just down the road, Little River Canyon National Preserve features a competing waterfall with a dramatic drop into the canyon. The Preserve offers 26 miles of hiking trails that range from gentle slopes to difficult canyon climbs. Other activities include kayaking, cycling, horseback riding, bird watching, rock climbing and fishing. For those seeking a leisurely look at fall colors, take the scenic drive. Fort Payne The City of Fort Payne began as Willstown, a major Cherokee settlement. Sequoyah, who conceived and developed a Cherokee alphabet, settled here. His son, Richard Gist, recorded celebratory events on the walls of Manitou Cave, which can be visited today. European arrivals integrated here with the Native American culture until the United States government declared otherwise. The town is named for Captain Payne, who built the stockade that held Sequoyah and others, a homophone name capturing the tragic experience. The U.S. National Historic Trail of Tears begins here and is commemorated every year on Sept. 13 in Fort Payne. The mix of cultures resulted in unique mountain sounds, one of which was a trio of Fort Payne cousins, who honed their craft in Myrtle Beach bars. Regardless of where they performed, they celebrated their home state with their name:
Alabama, and set a record that may never be matched in any genre: 21 consecutive No. 1 hit singles. The Alabama Fan Club and Museum honors their 50 years of music with a variety of memorabilia and band members are often spied in the museum greeting fans. Lookout Mountain offers multiple vistas to see far down into the forest, where trees blaze with fall colors. The rugged ridges and pounding waterfalls echo of the majesty and power of nature. Underground, the unique cave species of Manitou remind us of nature’s fragility. The pride and sorrow of history, plus the joy of art and music, still capture the human experience. northalabama.org
Verna Gates is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala. She is the author of 100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die.
, s u b Colu m Georgia
on the road again | COLUMBUS, GEORGIA
8:30 a.m. Enjoy a piece of Columbus history at Veri Best Donuts, a company that dates back to the 1950s. There’s so much sweet goodness here, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. For a heartier breakfast, try the chicken and biscuits — and the eccentric décor — at Plucked Up. Naturally, there’s a chicken theme happening there. 10 a.m. Zipline across the mighty Chattahoochee to the Alabama side with Blue Heron Adventures, the nation’s only dual zip course that links two states. The fun begins in Downtown Columbus and features a long ride across the river and then a return to Georgia. 11 a.m. Take a virtual flight aboard the Space Shuttle Odyssey to experience space travel, as well as enjoying other interactive exhibits at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, part of Columbus State University. There’s also planetarium shows, NASA Space Shuttle artifacts and a host of Apollo memorabilia. Noon Come for the barbecue platters at Country’s Barbecue but enjoy the unique ambiance of Columbus’ old Greyhound bus station. Visitors can even dine inside a real Greyhound bus! Be sure to sample the goober pie. 1:30 p.m. Relive your childhood at the Lunchbox Museum, one of only three museums in the country named among the 10 Most Unique Museums in the world by Listverse.com. 2:30 p.m. The world’s longest urban whitewater course runs straight through Downtown Columbus and Whitewater Express gets people on the water in a varied of experiences, from easy rides perfect for families to “The Carnage Trip.” 4 p.m. Take a walk along the Dragonfly Trail, a 15-mile multi-use bike and pedestrian trail that runs from the riverfront south to the National Infantry Museum. 5 p.m. Rejuvenate after your busy day with a Georgia Salty Dawg cocktail at the Wicked Hen restaurant, then stay for dinner, enjoying the Midtown restaurant’s New South Cuisine by native Chef Bryant Walker. 7:30 p.m. Take in a performance at the Springer Opera House, Georgia’s historic state theater. Beginning Sept. 24 and running through Oct. 10, visitors may enjoy the musical “Shrek,” based on the popular film. Upcoming performances include “Evil Dead: The Musical,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “A Tuna Christmas.”
To plan your visit: visitcolumbusga.com
Please check websites or call ahead for updated information.
Market Days on Broadway in Uptown Columbus 9 a.m. to Noon Saturdays More than 100 local vendors will be selling anything and everything on four blocks of Broadway, March through November. alwaysuptown.com/market-days
Bo Bartlett Center South Arts 2021 Southern Prize & State Fellows Exhibition Visit for the exciting artwork of Columbus native Bo Bartlett in the interactive gallery space on the River Park campus of Columbus State University, but also for the South Arts exhibit that runs through Jan. 7, 2022. Nine artists from nine southern states were chosen from 800 applicants for this exhibit. bobartlettcenter.org/
National Infantry Museum This impressive museum pays tribute to the American infantry soldier, from the country’s inception in the Revolutionary War until today. The realistic exhibits explain America’s military history while commemorating its brave soldiers, a reason why USA Today has named it the No. 1 Best Free Museum in 2020. nationalinfantrymuseum.org/
Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum Getrude “Ma” Rainey, known as the “Mother of Blues,” performed with many pioneers of American blues and jazz. When she retired from years on the road and more than 100 recordings, she returned to her native Columbus, settling into a two-story “shutgun” house on Fifth Avenue that is now a museum. parks.columbusga.gov/Parks/MA-Rainey-Home Compiled by Cheré Coen. Photos by Cheré Coen and Visit Columbus
greater goods | ALL ABOUT FALL
all about fall
1. Baxter & Me fall picture frame, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 2. Capri Blue Pumpkin Dolce candle, Keep It Casual, 106 S Industrial Rd, Tupelo, MS 3. Doormat, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 4. Door hanger, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 5. Long sleeve t-shirt, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 6. Mini velvet pumpkins, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 7. Pillows, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 8. Pumpkin, House To Home, 8961 US-51, Southaven, MS 9. T-shirt, The Bunker Boutique, 2400 US-51, Hernando, MS 10. Welcome boards with fall toppers, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Rd #115, Olive Branch, MS 11. Wreath, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 12. Ribbon, House To Home, 8961 US-51, Southaven, MS
greater goods | FOOTBALL FRENZY
1. Cutting Board, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 2. Door hanger, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 3. Door hanger, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 4. Game face stickers, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 5. Towels, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 6. Cups & napkins, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 7. Magnolia Lane serving dish, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 8. Party cups, Upstairs Closet, 309 E Main St, Senatobia, MS 9. Razorbacks sign, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 10. Stemless wine glasses, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 11. Sweatshirt, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 12. T-shirt, Ultimate Gifts, 2902 May Blvd Suite 102, Southaven, MS
New River Gorge or
Almost Heaven By Jason Frye Photography courtesy of National Parks Service and Gary Hartley West Virginia Tourism and Molly Wolff Photography and Jason Frye
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The nation’s latest national park offers a new hybrid model with more recreational opportunities in the heart of West Virginia.
At dawn, clouds laced the sky. The New River Gorge Bridge’s skeletal silhouette seemed to span a river of fog as wild and churning as the river secreted below. By breakfast time, the rain had begun. Drops peppered tender young leaves with a rhythmic irregularity and the fog had risen to flood levels, wispy tendrils that once sweept the feet of the bridge now scraped the bottom of the arch. The clouds and fog seemed intent on merging as if they wanted to keep New River Gorge National Park and Preserve — the country’s 63rd and newest national park — a secret from visitors a little while longer.
Visitors scaling the New River Gorge Bridge can view whitewater rafters below.
The New River was no secret to me. I grew up a couple of hours away in Logan and between school field trips, business calls to coal mines with my father, and trips whitewater rafting with my Boy Scout troop, church youth group, and college friends, I’d been here 50 times, maybe more. I’d rafted the New — Upper and Lower — and the nearby Gauley River dozens of times. I’d been to Bridge Day, a celebration of New River Gorge Bridge — the highest single-span bridge in the Western Hemisphere — held each October and felt a kinship with the bridge even as a kid. After all, we shared a birth month of October, making it the finest month in West Virginia’s history. In December 2020, after nearly four decades of work that started with Congressman Nick Jo Rayhall and ended with Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve was made official, and the world was about to know one of the bestkept secrets of the southeast: West Virginia lives up to its slogan and is indeed both wild and wonderful. And now, there was a reason to rediscover the Mountain State, or to head there for the first time. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (NRGNP) covers more than 70,000 rugged, coal-rich acres adjacent to Fayetteville, near the confluence of Interstates 77 and 64 and the town of Beckley. The first park-preserve hybrid outside of Alaska, it’s already drawing droves of national parks fans, outdoors enthusiasts hyped up by the newness of the place, and West Virginians curious to see what has changed. The short answer is “not much.” The long answer is “everything.” Comprised of 7,021 acres of riverfront and ridgetop national park and 53 miles of free-flowing whitewater river surrounded by a 65,156-acre national preserve, NRGNP’s hybrid model allows for more recreational opportunities than a pure national park. Within the preserve, ATVs are welcome, as are mountain bikes (both in designated areas), and hunters can return to generations-long stalking grounds, activities that are prohibited or severely limited within national parks. Senator Manchin, who called his and West Virginia’s “love and appreciation of the outdoors” a key reason to push for the establishment of this park, said, “Some DeSoto 49
of my best memories are hunting, fishing, and exploring our wild and wonderful state. And it’s been a privilege to share my love of the outdoors with my children and grandchildren.” That love is about to be shared far and wide, and it stands to boost West Virginia’s already-booming outdoor recreation industry, which brings in around $9 billion annually, outstripping coal — the industry that most think of when they consider West Virginia — and opening a new chapter of growth for the state.
Exploring the Park
Within NRGNP, there’s plenty to do. Nearly 100 miles of hiking trails crisscross New River Gorge, and mountain bikers have some 60 miles of trail and singletrack to ride. Rangers, park staff, and locals who championed the efforts to establish the park all agree: as soon as budgets allow, they want more trails, including a rim-to-rim hike a la Grand Canyon National Park, and a trail encircling the whole park, an ambitious loop of more than 100 miles that would draw those long-trail hikers who frequent the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, and introduce thousands of the challenge and reward of longdistance hiking. New River Gorge is the deepest in the Appalachians, and hidden behind a scrim of trees on the steep slopes leading to the river are sandstone cliffs 30 to 120 feet high. More than 1,600 named and established routes in the park call 50 DeSoto
to intermediate and advanced climbers, and innumerable bouldering problems (bouldering is the sport of low-altitude climbing that’s rope-free and often not more than a few feet off the ground) provide a challenge to those new to the sport, as well as experienced climbers who arrive ready to chalk up and hit the rock. But as much as the 1.6-mile Grandview Rim Trail (which, as the name implies, pays off with a truly grand view of the gorge and New River), the absolutely stunning views of New River Gorge Bridge found on Long Point Trail. The cliff faces, climbing opportunities, and scenery found on the easy 2.4-mile Endless Wall hike are highlights for every visitor who decides to dirty their boots, the real draw here is the New River.
Getting on the Water
The New River, ironically one of the oldest rivers in the world, flows north from its source in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, growing from a wide, wadable, tubingfriendly river into a roaring, whitewater-filled beast by the time it reaches the National Park. Here, 53 miles of river has cut deep into the landscape, and it has the rapids to prove it. On the Upper New, long, gentle pools are punctuated by Class I-III rapids, an ideal setup for those new to and nervous about whitewater rafting. The Lower New is a different story. Here you get into truly epic whitewater, the kind West Virginia likes to show off on billboards, magazine ads, and Instagram
posts. Here, you experience the true power of the river and there’s not a Class I or II rapid to be found. Instead, it’s big water ranging from Class III to Class V, and paddling is not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, a number of outfitters run these rapids thousands of times a year, and their guides — and safety records — are impeccable. Among the best of them is Adventures on the Gorge, which has more than just whitewater guides. On their 250acre ridgetop campus, you’ll find cabins and tent and RV campsites, a collection of restaurants and cafes, and porches and decks overlooking the New River and granting postcard-worthy views of the bridge.
Back to the Bridge
On that morning when dawn broke through a sky laced with rainclouds and the fog rose from the gorge like a river about to breech its banks, I left Adventures on the Gorge for a Bridge Walk, a walking tour of New River Gorge Bridge that leads you across a 3,030-foot catwalk under the bridge, through the very heart of the steel arch. By the time we reached the bridge, the rain was coming down in earnest and the fog shrouded all but a few hundred yards of the roadway, the curve of the arch barely visible. Under the bridge, we clipped into a safety line and started our way across a 2-foot-wide catwalk, the fog hiding our destination and the river far below. Soon, we heard the rain stop and a breeze stirred the fog. More of the bridge was revealed and we looked down 200 feet onto the tops of trees. A few hundred yards on, the fog dissipated and, 876 feet below us, the New River revealed itself. My group stopped and listened. Traffic rumbled overhead, then silence, birdcalls, the whisper of the rapids below. And we saw it: a quartet of boats navigating the final rapids of the Upper New, about to get into the wild waters of the Lower. nps.gov/neri/index.htm
On this trip to the New River, Jason Frye found solace in the words of Thomas Wolfe, who wrote, “I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.” And upon seeing his native West Virginia anew, he found his view forever changed.
Longleaf Piney Resort in Hattiesburg offers glamping options with multiple tiny houses with close access to the Longleaf Trace and the University of Southern Mississippi campus.
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Taylor Inn, Taylor, MS
PADS WITH PERSONALITY By Tracy Morin Photography courtesy of Longleaf Piney Resort, Visit Knoxville and Properties at 4300. Taylor Inn photography courtesy of J Worthem Photography and Design
As fall football games transform Southern towns and cities alike, these one-of-a-kind accommodations welcome fans who prefer something unique. DeSoto 53
University of Tennessee colors and memorabilia are on display at The Graduate Hotel in Knoxville.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death,” Scottish athlete Bill Shankly once said. “I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” Sure, he may have been referring to the European version of the sport — soccer — but anyone who’s attended a college football game in the American South would wholeheartedly agree. With fans flocking to football destinations throughout the fall, tailgating gear in tow, the question remains: Where to set up shop for the festivities ahead? For those who seek a unique experience that run-of-the-mill hotels can’t provide, check out these standout options in key college football hot spots. Southern Miss: Longleaf Piney Resort, Hattiesburg, Miss. Billing itself as “Mississippi’s premier glamping experience,” the Longleaf Piney Resort (LPR) is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. But for those who don’t love “roughing it,” the property promises authenticity without sacrificing modern luxuries like plumbing and air-conditioning. While staying at one of multiple tiny houses — The Southern Shindig, Hattie’s Hoedown, The Fais Do-Do, Shangri-La, and The Julep — visitors can enjoy private fire pits and firewood, hammocks, and games such as corn hole, axe-throwing, and disc golf. Just off the property, thanks to its location on the ninth mile of the Longleaf Trace (LLT), guests can explore 44 miles of paved trails, ideal for running, biking, walking, or skating. The nearby Lake Thoreau Environmental Center, located only 1.5 miles from the resort, offers fishing, mountain biking, and hiking. “For football and other Southern Miss athletic events, our spot on the Longleaf Trace allows you to connect directly to USM,” says Sean McGee, owner of LPR. “The distance 54 DeSoto
between LPR and the USM Gateway is seven miles and can be traveled on bike or golf carts (with an LLT permit). This fall, we will be offering e-bike rentals, which make a 14-mile round trip an easy ride.” “Travelers are looking for one-of-a-kind opportunities that make their getaways special, and the Longleaf Piney Resort offers all of that and more,” says Marlo Dorsey, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg. “The mini resort is conveniently located moments from many of Hattiesburg’s local restaurants, shopping, and other family-friendly attractions.” University of Tennessee: Graduate Knoxville, Knoxville, Tenn. Situated only steps away from the University of Tennessee’s campus and its iconic Neyland Stadium, the Graduate Knoxville is steeped in the area’s traditions and oozes with Volunteer spirit. “The minute you walk through the hotel’s doors, you’re greeted by the sights, colors, and memorabilia of UT — and the sweet, delicious smells of the lobby’s coffee shop, Poindexter Coffee,” says Mary Katelyn Price, communications specialist for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, based in Nashville. “Guests enjoy many amenities on-site, from breakfast in the lobby to free WiFi and concierge services. Each guest room and suite is uniquely decorated with UT’s colors and offers the flair of Knoxville, with special touches woven into the decor, including the Vols’ mascot, Smokey, the state bird, and pictures from the university’s past.” The fun doesn’t stop at football. Before turning in for the night, stop by the hotel’s Saloon 16. “Inspired by UT’s football legend Peyton Manning, this fun yet relaxing bar is just the place to kick off any football weekend in the Marble City,” Price enthuses. “Dive into some
of their delicious plates and drinks, including John Ward’s bacon popcorn, Peyton’s chicken parm sandwich, and Chesney’s rum punch.” And don’t forget to venture out to enjoy some of the area’s plentiful attractions, shopping, and food. “Whether in town for a football game or looking to explore the treasures of Knoxville, the Graduate’s prime location along the Tennessee River makes it an ideal place to stay,” Price says. Mississippi State: Properties at 4300, Starkville, Miss. Properties at 4300 encompasses lodging, an event venue, and a restaurant: The Magnolia Tree B&B, The Pool House at 4300, Events at 4300, and Tables at 4300. “I cannot tell you how often our guests tell us that once you walk through the front door, you would never believe you were in Starkville,” says Robin Husbands, who owns the company with husband Vern Wunsch. The Magnolia Tree B&B offers two large suites, The King and the Jack & Jill, and can lodge up to six people. Meanwhile, The Pool House rents as an entire house and can sleep up to seven. With two full baths, a full (and fully equipped) kitchen, and a laundry closet with washer and dryer, this option allows guests to truly make themselves at home. For a bite before or after the games, the new restaurant, Tables at 4300, is open to the public. “We serve a traditional-style Sunday Brunch Day every second Sunday of the month and will be opening every Tuesday through Thursday evening for tapas,” Husbands explains. “Our plans are to open evening service around the second week in September.” Naturally, guests at the B&B will reap the benefits of the restaurant’s breakfast, included with their reservation. “Starkville’s energy on game weekends cannot be beat,” asserts Paige Hunt, director of tourism for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. “From enjoying our many restaurants on Friday night, to tailgating in The Junction on Saturday, to our ‘Brunch and Browse’ shopping specials on Sunday, game weekends in Mississippi’s College Town are packed with fun.” DeSoto 55
Taylor Inn, Taylor, MS
Ole Miss: Taylor Inn, Taylor, Miss. Taylor, Miss., is less than 10 miles from the frenzied football scene of Oxford, but it feels a world away. And Taylor Inn is one of its most charming residents. “Taylor is a not-so-far getaway and can be enjoyed year-round,” notes Paige Evans, owner of Taylor Inn with husband Glen. “It remains a town of fine artists and musicians, and really just a good group of nice folks. Happy lives here.” Luckily, Taylor Inn is situated on what Evans calls “the happiest corner in Taylor,” with a front porch made for relaxing and rocking away the day. Didn’t score game tickets? Out back, the screened porch is perfect for cozying up to the fireplace and watching the game on TV. “Or spend the day enjoying the high energy of Ole Miss football and drive back to the Inn for Taylor-style comforts,” Evans says. “Location is everything, and we’re across the street from Taylor Grocery, with some of the best catfish in the area and best people-watching ever.” Alternatively, fine Southern dining is a three-minute stroll away at Grit, while waking up after a late night is easier with Lost Dog Coffee, where locals grab pick-me-ups over neighborly conversation. Back at the Inn, expect a mix of refurbished and reclaimed decor, all handselected. The Main House, with an independent five bedrooms and five baths, is also available for whole-house rental. The Chicken House, a small tin structure 56 DeSoto
that sits in the chicken yard, offers “rustic sophistication,” while The Big Truck Theater is a perfect spot for everything from family reunions to football parties. “Several guests have complimented us by saying, ‘I felt happy the minute I walked through the door,’” Evans says. “And that’s just what we are going for.” longleafpineyresort.com graduatehotels.com/knoxville propertiesat4300.com taylor-inn.com
Based in Oxford, Miss., Tracy Morin is an awardwinning freelance writer and editor with a passion for covering food, beverage, beauty, and boxing.
Never MISSISSIPPI’S 9/11 VICTIMS F our Mississippians died in the September 2001 attacks, three of whom died in the attack on the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The small town of Durant, Miss., was hit particularly hard on 9/11. Natives Joe Ferguson and Lt. Col. Jerry Don Dickerson, Jr., were both killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Ferguson, a National Geographic photographer and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, was one of 64 people on board American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the building. Dickerson was one of 125 killed inside the Pentagon. Ironically, the men were friends and lived only a few blocks from each other in high school. A memorial site for both men is located in downtown Durant. Ada Mason-Acker, 50, originally from Picayune, graduated from Jackson State University. She was a budget analyst for the Army and died while working in the Pentagon. James Cleere, a 1964 Hattiesburg High School graduate, was vice president of Seabury & Smith, a division of Marsh & McLennan. A resident of Des Moines, Iowa, at the time, he was in New York to attend a company meeting. Cleere was on the phone with his wife when the second plane struck the south tower.
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Forget Story and photography by Mary Ann DeSantis
Like many other infamous dates, September 11 is still etched in our collective memories as the 20th anniversary of the nation’s most horrible terrorist act approaches.
The Last Column, a beam used by rescuers as a landmark to find missing people, became a symbol of remembrance with memorial tributes. It is now on display at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The New York Fire Department Ladder 3 firetruck missing its cab is one of the many artifacts visitors will find at the museum.
The sky was a vivid blue canvas as I sat on a bench outside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. Behind me, water was softly cascading in the black granite reflecting pool where the north tower once stood. I could not have found a more peaceful setting to wait for the museum to open, but my mind would not let me have solace. All I could envision were planes flying in low against the clear blue sky and crashing into two of the most iconic towers gracing the New York skyline. Visiting the museum and memorial is an emotional experience, but the message that our nation is irrepressible and can rise from ashes is felt everywhere on the complex. Outside, near the south reflecting pool, the Survivor Tree stands tall again after being pulled from the rubble. After the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation nursed the Callery pear tree back to health, it was replanted in 2010 at the memorial as a living reminder of resilience, survival, and hope. This month marks the 20th anniversary of that infamous day, and special programs will reinforce the messages of hope and strength. Most notably, the Sixth Annual Anniversary in the Schools webinar on Sept. 11, 2021, will feature Carlton Shelley II and five others who will share their stories. Shelley was a student at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., where President George W. Bush was visiting when he was informed of the attacks. “I’ll never forget how I felt that day,” says Shelley, a West Point graduate. “Though at that age, I could not conceive the gravity of those events. The transition from excitement to confusion to fear is still palpable to this day.” Located on eight of the 16 acres at the World Trade Center site, the memorial plaza and museum honor the 2,983 people who were killed in the terrorist attacks of not only Sept. 11, 2001, but also victims of the Feb. 26, 1993, WTC bombing. The memorial plaza consists of two reflecting pools formed in the footprints of the original twin towers. Named “Reflecting Absence,” the pools contain the names of everyone killed in the 9/11 attacks. White roses are placed next to names of the victims on their birthdays. T he museum opened in May 2014 after delays and controversies, but has since become one of New York City’s mostvisited attractions. Before the pandemic, the museum received about 9,000 visitors per DeSoto 61
Rising from the ashes of the former buildings is the new One World Trade Center.
day from all 50 states and around the world. The 110,000-square-foot exhibition portion of the museum is mostly located beneath the memorial plaza and contains more than 67,500 items, including 17,200 artifacts, and more than 44,000 print and digital images. Physical remnants — including a New York Fire Department Ladder 3 firetruck missing its cab, personal items like watches and shoes, photos that once sat on desks, battered fire helmets — are numerous. The survivors’ stairs and “The Last Column” are unforgettable to visitors because of their poignancy. The Vesey Street stairs served as an escape route for hundreds of people. The column, a beam used by rescuers as a landmark to find missing people and which became covered with memorial tributes, was the last item removed during the recovery and cleanup effort. The messages written on it came to symbolize the determination and dedication of those who participated in those efforts. Many visitors pause for more than a few moments at the blue-tiled wall where the Roman poet Virgil is quoted, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time,” in a powerful 60-foot eulogy across Memorial Hall. Blacksmith Tom Joyce made each of the 15-inch-high letters from steel appropriated from the wreckage of the towers. Behind the quote, the site-specific art installation titled “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” by artist Spencer Finch was particularly haunting. The piece contains 2,983 watercolor squares representing the victims. Memorial Hall, where each and every victim is remembered with photos, biographies, and voice recordings from family members, has a powerful impact on visitors. And it’s where the quiet sobs are most often heard, especially as voicemail recordings are played. Many victims inside the World Trade Center and on Flight 93, 62 DeSoto
which crashed in Pennsylvania that morning after being hijacked, had time to call loved ones to say a final goodbye. Despite the solemnity of the events detailed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, there is solace in knowing those faces and voices will never be forgotten. They forever will be a part of the memorial and museum that triumphantly stand for human dignity over human depravity. Former museum CEO Joseph C. Daniels best summed up the site’s historic relevance when the museum opened in 2014: “We built this museum…to make sure that our children’s children’s children know what this country went through on 9/11 and, equally as important, know how we came together to help one another with absolutely limitless compassion.”
If You Go
Reserve your timed tickets online; otherwise, you could be standing in line a long time and tickets do sell out. Also, you will want to visit as early in the day as possible. T he museum is open daily beginning at 9 a.m. Closing hours vary depending on the day. General admission is $17 adults, $12 students and seniors 65-plus, and $7 children. The exterior memorials are free, including the one honoring those whose deaths have been attributed to 9/11-related illnesses. Download the free audio app for iPhone or Android devices. Produced by Acoustiguide for the 9/11 Museum, the audio tour is narrated by actor Robert De Niro. Be sure to bring a headset or earphones to listen quietly. And if you can’t visit in person, the museum’s website also offers an excellent virtual tour that shows the sheer magnitude of the space inside the museum and many of the exhibits. 911Memorial.com
A native of Laurel and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Mary Ann DeSantis is a freelance writer based in Lady Lake, Fla.
LONGLEAF TEA COMPANY
Longleaf Tea proudly proclaims that it is grown in Mississippi.
Ready for Brewing By Jackie Sheckler Finch | Photography courtesy of Longleaf Tea Company
Thomas and Hillary Steinwinder stir up something nice with their Laurel-based Longleaf Tea Company. Working in Shanghai on an engineering project, Thomas Steinwinder would often visit a tea shop near his office to practice his Mandarin Chinese language skills and enjoy some delicious tea. One day the shop owner asked the American where tea is grown in his homeland. “When I told her that tea is not widely grown in the United States, she asked why,” Steinwinder says. “That’s what got me thinking. That’s what started it all.” A naturally curious fella, Steinwinder spent the next seven years researching tea farming and if it could be successfully done in Mississippi. “I also tried to grow tea plants on my back patio,” he says. “There’s not a lot of inherent knowledge on how to do it in our country so I had a lot to learn.” In 2018, Steinwinder and his wife, Hillary, decided it was time. Working “two days straight,” the couple planted 1,200 tea plants at the family’s historic farm in Laurel, Miss. 64 DeSoto
“My wife and I are both from South Mississippi and the farm has been in her family for five generations,” Steinwinder says. The historic farm is also where the new tea business got its name — Longleaf Tea Company. “The farm originally was a longleaf pine timber farm so the name is a nod to the heritage of the farm, as well as to the high-quality tea made from the full, unbroken leaf,” he says. With no employees, the Steinwinders rely on family help for the massive planting and cultivation process. “The hardest part is the weeds. We go to battle with the weeds every single week,” he says. “We are often out there hand pulling and mowing.” Although deer and rabbits don’t like to munch on bitter tea plants, little pests called armyworms can be quite destructive. “We haven’t seen them yet, but armyworms can wipe
Thomas and Hillary Steinwinder plant their first tea plants.
out entire fields in a matter of hours,” Steinwinder says. “They grow underground — thousands of them — and move in a line like marching soldiers, eating everything in their path.” After three years of growing, the Longleaf tea shrubs are ready for their first harvest this year. “We have to hand pick them,” Steinwinder says, noting that the best time to pick the leaves is in the morning after the dew has dried off. “You only take the top two leaves and it can take hours to do it. You don’t want the leaves to be wet.” Large baskets made by local Choctaw Indians are good for gathering the leaves. Each harvest is a big family event complete with a picnic. “It is hard work, but it is fun,” Steinwinder says. “We sold out our first harvested tea within hours.” In Southern Mississippi, the tea harvest season runs from late March through October when tea leaves can be harvested every two weeks. Black, green, and white tea come from the same plant. The different tastes and colors show up in the processing after the tea leaves are picked. So far, Longleaf Tea Company is producing Meadow Green Tea and Revival Black Tea in packages that proudly proclaim that it is “Mississippi Tea.” Longleaf Tea Company’s future plans include adding a tea tasting room and shop on the Laurel property, as well as putting more tea plants in the ground. “We currently have an acre under production and have cleared another 10 acres for production,” Steinwinder says. “If anything, this venture has taught us patience.”
The company’s goal, Steinwinder says, is to produce top-quality tea and reduce the need for tea imports from other countries. “Since we drink so much tea here, we really need to be producing our own,” he says. According to the U.S. League of Tea Growers, there are only about 60 tea farms across a few American states, including three in Mississippi. Americans drink close to 4 billion gallons of tea a year, 99 percent of which is grown in other countries. “With our warm humid climate, rainfall, and acidic soil, Mississippi could one day be a major tea producer,” Steinwinder says. “We’re exploring that possibility.” In fact, when Steinwinder was a child, his ambition was to grow up to become an explorer. Although an engineer by trade, perhaps Steinwinder is fulfilling that childhood dream of venturing into new territory. “Growing tea has been an adventure, a big learning experience,” he says “I feel like we are producing something special, something that maybe will become such high-quality tea that China will start importing it from us. That would be great.” longleaftea.co An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend.
southern gentleman | SOUTHERN SPIRITS
Drinking Local By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of Kathryn Shea Duncan, Brightside Pictures and Cheré Coen
Three innovative Southerners are turning local and unique ingredients into tasty spirits. Like many of you fine Southern gentlemen, I grew up eating farm to table, picking corn and digging potatoes less than 100 steps from our kitchen. Now, the phrase “farm to table” has become synonymous with tasty, locally-sourced ingredients and we see it everywhere from food trucks to fine dining to farmers markets (you farmers market folks don’t really need to say this, we figure if the farmer is selling us some produce, it’s farm to table). But what about drinks? Shouldn’t we “drink local” the same way we eat local? We should. And I just happen to know a trio of distilleries that can help compliment your farm-to-table dinner with a little grain-to-glass libation. Let’s look to Louisiana for our first couple of bottles: vodkas using grain to glass to dispel the common myth that vodka must use potatoes. While it’s true that traditional vodka recipes use potatoes, a little innovation never hurt anyone, and in this case, it’s produced two damn fine vodkas. Over in Sulphur, Jamison Trouth uses cane sugar in 66 DeSoto
his Yellowfin Otoro Vodka. A spearfisherman with a degree in chemical engineering, Trouth’s taste for vodka was developed after years of careful tasting and experimentation in college, and after a class in distilling, he found a love for making the stuff. And he’s good at it, something reflected in the name: otoro refers to the finest cut of tuna you can get, a delicious, melt-inyour mouth cut from the inside of the belly. Like its sashimi cousin, Yellowfin Otoro Vodka delivers a delicious, decadent, melt-in-your-mouth flavor every time it hits your tongue. Cane sugar is an ingredient folks more often associate with rum, but believe me, there’s nothing rum-like about Yellowfin. Instead, the cane sugar serves as a sort of shortcut for the distilling process. Since yeast — the driver in fermentation — can only eat sugar, everything has to be broken down to its base sugars to be used in fermentation, and by jumping right to something as rich and flavor-forward as cane sugar, Trouth can get right to the heart of the matter: making vodka. Smooth and easy-sipping, Yellowfin Otoro is tasty
on its own or in a cocktail like Louisiana Lemonade: 2 ounces Yellowfin, 5 ounces lemonade, 3/4 ounce sweet tea; serve on the rocks. However, Trouth has expanded what he’s doing. Now, when you stop by their storefront, give a taste — and grab a bottle — of their oak-aged vodka, Yellowfin Oaked Otoro. It has a buttery yellow color (like the fins on their namesake tuna) and a touch of toasty, oaky flavors from the oak staves that steep in the spirit prior to bottling. If we head to Branch, La., we’ll find a farm where Michael Frugé grows rice for his distillery, JT Meleck Distillers. Named for his great, great uncle, John JT Meleck, who had the crazy idea to start growing rice here back in 1896, the distillery honors his legacy by using rice grown on JT’s original 20 acres in their JT Meleck Rice Vodka. Frugé calls his vodka “dangerously smooth” because “it’s so smooth you don’t even realize you’re drinking vodka.” In fact, the only difference from other vodkas is the finish. No sharp alcohol tang, no acerbic mouthwash feel, just a kiss of that boozy sting and a sweet little note at the end, rounding out your drink. What should you make with it? Frugé tested batches of vodka with a dirty martini until he made one he called “The best martini I’ve ever had.” Take 2 ounces JT Meleck Rice Vodka, add 1/2 ounce vermouth and 1/2 ounce olive juice into an ice-filled shaker; shake the hell out of it and strain it into a chilled glass. Garnish with two olives, and enjoy. Oh, in case you were wondering, it does indeed go well with your crawfish boil. And if you’re a fan of whiskey, keep your eyes peeled for JT Meleck Rice Whiskey. It’s been aging for the last 3.5 years and is about to make its public debut. If we look east to Dalton, Ga., we’ll find Charles
JT Melnick barrel
“Chuck” Butler, Jr., and Dalton Distillery. Chuck’s a secondgeneration distiller, following almost in the footsteps of his father, Raymond Butler, Sr., who got his start on the illegal moonshine side of things, serving up the fine folks of Dalton County jar upon jar of his moonshine. But he had a secret: his mash bill always included a little bit of sunflower seeds. The mixed mash bill of corn and malted sunflower seeds intrigued customers of Senior and Junior, and when Chuck went legit, he carried on the sunflower tradition, experimenting with the recipe and landing on a mash bill that’s 60 percent malted sunflower seeds. Thus, TazaRay was born. How’s it taste? In a word: great. “Bloody Mary’s are the best with TazaRay,” Butler says. “You can taste the nutty finish from the sunflower seeds. It compliments a spicy Bloody Mary really well.” That nutty finish adds an interesting note to their play on the Moscow Mule, which Chuck calls the D.C. Donkey. Add 2 ounces TazaRay to 4 ounces ginger beer and a squeeze of lime, stir, pour over rocks in your mule mug, and garnish with mint. Deeeeelicious. yellowfindistillery.com jtmeleck.net daltondistillery.com
Jason Frye lives on the coast of North Carolina and will try a sip of just about anything you put in front of him. Follow his eating and drinking adventures on Instagram where he’s @beardedwriter.
southern harmony | JOHN MOHEAD
Cookin’ in Clarksdale By Kevin Wierzbicki | Photography courtesy of Rory Doyle
Clarksdale bluesman John Mohead found a new side career as chef at Kathryn’s on Moon Lake in Dundee, Miss. “We landed in Casablanca in the middle of the night and then were followed and spied on by the Moroccan CIA.” That’s not the sort of thing you’d normally hear from a musician on the road. But it really happened to bluesman John Mohead and his band when they went to Africa for a three-week tour back in 1999. Being suspected of espionage was just one of the many quirks of the group’s journey. Mohead, now a resident of the Clarksdale, Miss., area, explains. “We started out appearing on a Moroccan TV show and then we played a Fourth of July party at the American Embassy in Rabat,” he says. “Our theater shows were packed with Moroccan teens waving Confederate flags. I don’t think that they knew who I was, but they knew I was from Memphis. Then, I got dysentery at a tavern in Tangiers and had to play a
show that night. During my urge to get to a toilet in our hotel, the city suffered a power blackout and me and the drummer got stuck in between floors in the hotel elevator.” These days the only folks who shadow Mohead are his fans, and he has plenty of them. Besides continuing his musical career on the stages of Clarksdale and beyond, Mohead is renowned for his other job as owner and head chef of Kathryn’s on Moon Lake, a steakhouse located in Clarksdale-adjacent Dundee, Miss. Something of a local institution, Kathryn’s was founded in 1939 but had been shuttered for two years when Mohead bought it. He had no restauranteur experience at the time and even his wife Jenn told him the idea was nuts, but Mohead was not deterred. “I’m a right brainer and I love a challenge, and at that point in my life I thought I could figure out anything,” he says. DeSoto 69
“I had just burned out on the music business and touring 200 days a year around the world, and I needed a change and a challenge. And boy did I get one.” Mohead also had no formal training as a chef, but he says he learned how to cook by rubbing elbows with some renowned chefs that he liked. “My training came from Creole chefs like George and Ms. Sarah Wright and soul food cooks Doris Carr, Daisy Edmonds, Mae Wolf, Neil Myers, and others,” he says. “These are the people who taught me food, who taught me that you have to put love in your food. Culinary schools teach you knife skills, not love.” Mohead, however, did eventually take a few cooking lessons, and Kathryn’s kitchen manager Gabbi Turner attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Atlanta. The lockdown caused by the pandemic affected both parts of Mohead’s career: Kathryn’s had to close and live music gigs became nonexistent. When the restaurant was able to open back up and offer takeout orders, the community was very supportive. To raise money, Mohead also arranged some online musical performances. “I did some live streams,” Mohead says. “The first one was the 2020 Virtual Juke Joint Festival. That was fun and also well-viewed and supported. I did a few 70 DeSoto
other live streams, but it just seemed weird playing to a cell phone. But being shut down in the restaurant for a period allowed me the mental and physical space to be able to create and record in the studio for the first time in years.” Mohead’s two worlds occasionally overlap, like when one of his blues brothers comes out to Kathryn’s for a meal. “My friend Billy Howell brought Charlie and Henrietta Musselwhite (now Clarksdale residents) out years ago and we just clicked,” he says. “Sometimes it’s like you’re in a foreign country and no one speaks the language, then you run into someone who does and suddenly you’re best friends. That’s how it was with Charlie and Henri. Charlie even played on a session for me in Memphis. They have unlimited credit at Kathryn’s now.” The decades of fun with some craziness mixed in have given Mohead a surefire philosophy for everything he does. “A perfectly cooked steak or anything else is perfect when it’s done with love,” he says. “It’s that simple.” Mohead’s latest album, “Mograss,” was released earlier this year.
Kevin Wierzbicki is a freelance music and travel journalist who delights in visiting music hotbeds like Clarksdale where great storytellers like Mohead abound. He has not been chased by the Moroccan CIA.
“A perfectly cooked steak or anything else is perfect when it’s done with love, It’s that simple.” DeSoto 71
in good spirits | SARASOTA’S BRUNCH CLUB
Brunch Club Story and photography by Debi Lander
Sarasota’s Brunch Club elevates an egg white-topped cocktail to masterpiece status. Egg white-topped cocktails with their creamy complexions and foamy heads always seem to impress, but the Brunch Club cocktail may be one of the most beautiful drinks ever created. Inventor and master mixologist Cliseria Padilla-Flores of Sarasota, Fla.’s Sage Restaurant has created a masterpiece with her gin and raspberry-infused drink topped with a swirl of floral delight. “The key to the topping comes from shaking twice,” said Padilla-Flores. She recommends adding all of the drink’s ingredients into a cocktail shaker, including an egg white, and then giving it a vigorous “dry” shake, a bartender term that means shaking ingredients at room temperature without ice. The first shake allows the egg’s protein to form a foam without being diluted by the ice. Padilla-Flores then follows up with a 30-second “wet” shake by adding ice to the cocktail shaker, allowing the beverage to cool and strengthen the foam. She then pours the concoction through a fine sieve and into a cocktail glass. Padilla-Flores decorates the top with drops of Peychaud bitters to cut the sweetness and, like an expert barista, swirls the dots to form heart-shaped designs with a toothpick. An edible flower in the center delivers the cocktail’s touche finale. The Brunch Club, a seasonal cocktail selection, has proven so popular that it’s been added to the year-round menu. However, brunch dining at Sage Restaurant will move across the street to its sister property, the Bijou Café, starting in the fall. Padilla-Flores, otherwise known as “Clio,” welcomes guests to Sage with her colorful personality and green highlighted hair. She hails from Aguascalientes, Mexico, but moved to Sarasota with her family at age seven. She’s never left, claiming her love for the Gulf Coast city. Her experience comes from the bottom up. PadillaFlores went from bussing tables to server and bartender at various Sarasota restaurants, honing her mixology skills by mentoring with previous bosses, attending online courses, and
relying on her favorite book, “The Food Bible,” for fruit and vegetable pairing inspiration. Padilla-Flores has since risen to become Sage’s bar manager. Among the tantalizing new concoctions she created for the fall is a squash-infused cocktail that emphasizes her love of working with an array of mixers that includes various bitters and botanicals. Sage occupies the historic Sarasota Times Building, built in downtown Sarasota in 1926 within the Theater Arts district. The restaurant opened its doors in 2019 and, even though the pandemic made 2020 a tough year for the business, the staff is working again in the eclectic, antique-filled dining space. The Brunch Club 1 1/2 ounce of Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin 1/2 ounce of house-made vanilla-raspberry syrup* 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice 1/2 ounce rose-infused Carpano Bianco Vermouth (you may substitute any white botanical vermouth that is not dry.) 1/2 ounce or 1 egg white Peychaud Bitters irections: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with no ice. Shake D vigorously. Add ice and shake again, about 30 seconds. Double strain using the shaker top and a fine mesh strainer. Garnish with drops of Peychaud Bitters, then blend with a toothpick to create designs. Top with an edible flower. *The vanilla-raspberry syrup is made from boiling raspberries, water, sugar, and vanilla bean, then straining into a glass container. sagesrq.com
Debi Lander is a freelance writer and photographer living in Sarasota, Fla. She discovered the Brunch Club while dining at Sage.
exploring events | SEPTEMBER Hernando Farmers Market Saturdays through October Courthouse Square Hernando, MS 8:00am - 1:00pm Voted Mississippi's Favorite Farmers Market and 13th favorite in the nation by American Farmland Trust. This Mississippi Certified Market encourages & promotes access to fresh local foods. For more information call 662-429-9092 or visit cityofhernando.org/farmersmarket. Grammy Museum Mississippi presents MTV Turns 40 Through June 2022 Grammy Museum Mississippi Cleveland, MS For more information visit grammymuseumms.org or call 662-441-0100. Hernando Main Street Hometown Headliners Courthouse Lawn Hernando, MS September 2 - The Rodell McCord Band September 9 - KC Johns & Donnie Marrs September 16 - Truck Patch Revical September 23 - Twin Soul September 30 - Pam & Terry Free! For more information visit hernandoms.org or call 662-429-9055. The Marvelous Wonderettes September 9 - 12 Landers Center Theater Southaven, MS For more information visit dftonline.com Shotguns & Sunflowers Sporting Clays Tournament September 10 Palmer Home for Children Hernando, MS 7:00am - 2:00pm For more information visit Palmer Home’s Facebook page or call 662-331-5704. Bear Creek Festival and Car Show September 11 Belmont, MS 9:00am - 5:00pm Enjoy a day of live music, craft & food vendors, pony rides, and a car show. There is something for the whole family to enjoy! For more information visit the Bear Creek Festival page on Facebook. 74 DeSoto
Live at the Garden presents Sheryl Crow September 17 Memphis Botanic Garden Memphis, TN For ticket information visit liveatthegarden.com or ticketmaster.com. 300 Oaks Road Race September 18 Greenwood, MS One of Mississippi’s oldest road races featuring a 10k run, 5k run, 5k walk and one mile fun run. For more information visit 300oaks.com. 3 Blind Wines September 18 DeSoto Arts Council Hernando, MS 6:00pm - 9:00pm For more information visit desotoarts.com or call 662-404-3341. New Albany Garden Club Presents An Evening of Jazz in the Faulkner Garden September 23 Union Heritage Museum New Albany, MS 6:00pm - 9:00pm Tickets $50 each. Proceeds benefit the Faulkner Garden and other garden club projects. For more information call 662-534-3438. 42nd Annual Baddour Fashion Show and Auction September 24 The Gin Nesbit, MS 6:00pm - 9:00pm Benefitting the Baddour Center. For tickets call 662366-6930 or email email@example.com. 18th Annual Water Tower Festival September 25 Historic Town Square Hernando, MS 9:00am - 3:00pm Enjoy crafts, vendor booths, live music, a car show, BBQ contest, a Corn Hole tournament and a free Kids Zone! For more information visit hernandoms.org.
Blues on the Back Porch September 25 - Lightnin Malcolm Holly Springs, MS 7:00pm Blues on the Porch is a summer music series that brings Hill Country Blues musicians home to Holly Springs, to play on local porches. For more information visit bluesontheporch.com or call 662-278-0388. Otherfest October 2 Otherfest Grounds Cleveland, MS Featuring live bands all day on Saturday, food trucks, camping, craft beer and more. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy a great day of live music. For more information, visit keepclevelandboring.com or call 662-843-2712.
Trash & Treasures Along the Tenn-Tom Waterway October 1 - 2 Iuka, MS 6:00am - 6:00pm This event consist of 50+miles of yard sales along and adjacent to the Tenn-Tom Waterway located in Tishomingo County, MS. For more information call 662-423-0051 or visit tishomingofunhere.org. Mighty Roots Music Festival October 1 - 2 Stovall, MS Featuring The Minks, Keller Williams, Jarekus Singleton, Deer Tick and more! For tickets and information visit mightyrootsmusicfestival.com or call662-627-6149. Carrollton Pilgrimage & Pioneer Day Festival October 1 - 2 Carrollton, MS Tour historic homes, churches and places of interest. Arts & crafts, food vendors, music and children’s entertainment. For more information visit www.visitcarrolltonms.com.
reflections | 100-YEAR-OLD TEDDY BEAR
Mississippi’s 100-year-old Teddy Bear By Warren R. Johnson
Mississippi can take pride to have been the place of origin for the world’s best-loved toy: the teddy bear. And it’s all because of a strike by the United Mine Workers of America in the spring of 1902. An over-supply of coal caused wages to slack, so the miners went on strike for a shorter work week and an increase in pay. Unfortunately for the miners, the strike and the approach of winter caused the demand for coal to rise. The mine owners and the miners were not able to come to an agreement. However, then-President Theodore Roosevelt stepped in to bring both sides together. He had only become president a year earlier due to President William McKinley’s assassination. Settling this strike was a major effort and a reflection on the office of this new president. By October, Roosevelt was successful. To relieve the stress brought on from mediating these negotiations, he took a vacation. Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino invited Roosevelt down south to join a state expedition to hunt bears. Longino was the first post-Civil War governor and a nonConfederate veteran. He was fighting his own uphill battle to get re-elected, and Longino banked on Roosevelt’s presence in the state to aid his political effort. Roosevelt accepted the invitation to exercise his love for game hunting. He was known as a big game hunter, but was not blind to protecting wildlife; he went on to preserve 230 million acres for public use. Most of the hunting party killed a bear, but Roosevelt did not. To appease the president, members of the hunting party captured a 235-pound bear and tied it to a tree to allow Roosevelt to score his trophy. When presented with his wouldbe quarry, Roosevelt refused to shoot. He supposedly said, “I’ve hunted game all over America and I’m proud to be a hunter. But I couldn’t be proud of myself if I shot an old, tired, wornout bear that was tied to a tree.” 76 DeSoto
News of Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the bear spread throughout American newspapers, including The Washington Post. The political cartoonist Clifford Berryman created a satirical cartoon depicting Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the bear. A candy shop owner in Brooklyn, Morris Michtom, saw the cartoon and had the idea to create a stuffed bear and dedicate it to the president. He called it “Teddy’s Bear.” Berryman sent this stuffed bear to Roosevelt and received his permission to call it a “Teddy Bear.” Roosevelt doubted this new toy would be much of a success but Berryman thought otherwise and created the Ideal Toy Company, which turned into a million-dollar business. Roosevelt realized his mistake due to the bear’s popularity, and later chose the toy to be the primary marketing tool of the Republican Party. This mascot may well have contributed to the success of Roosevelt’s 1904 campaign for the presidency. Not only has the teddy bear become a staple of children’s toys, but it also spawned an industry of related products. Most children know A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, which also found a new life as a beloved Disney movie protagonist. Another favorite is Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear, a character found in more than 20 books. There is also Seymour Eaton’s book series, “The Roosevelt Bears,” as well as John Bratton’s orchestral work, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” Thank you, President Roosevelt for your trip to the South. You gave Mississippi their state toy. The teddy bear will continue to be a bear which will never be shot, but will live forever. Warren R. Johnson is a freelance writer, author, and publisher living in Dahlonega, Ga. The former bookdealer and classical musician has traveled extensively throughout 47 states, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and Europe.
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