Today in Mississippi April 2021

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outdoo scene around the ‘sip co-op involvement southern gardening








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Writing his own story I’m not sure if there’s something in the soil here or, maybe, in the thick, warm air. Whatever it is, I wonder if it helps foster the incredible amount of writers Mississippi produces. Some have said Mississippi has yielded more writers in the U.S. than any other state. I’m not sure if that’s strictly true when it comes to the numbers, but the pronouncement sure feels right. Storytelling is part of Mississippi’s legacy and the artistic promise of the decades to come. The names are legendary and it’s not just all about William Faulkner: Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Richard Ford, Barry Hannah, John Grisham, Donna Tartt, Richard Wright and Tennessee Williams. That’s not even a complete list and doesn’t account for the younger generation of Mississippi literary lions that have won acclaim and prizes over the last decade — Angie Thomas, Ace Atkins, Jesmyn Ward, Natasha Trethewey and Kiese Laymon. This month, we feature a story on one of the latter writers — a future legend. Michael Farris Smith grew up in the McComb and Magnolia area and was raised on the lines of Magnolia Electric Power. Today, the 51-year-old novelist and his family live in Oxford and are powered by North East Power. Smith’s story is one that’s fascinating. He gave writing a try late in life. But like the ball player he was in his youth, Smith swung hard and struck out some before

he cracked solid base hits and, eventually, home runs with critics and readers. He’s made national and international news recently for his new book, — a prequel to “The Great Gatsby” — “Nick.” Why would someone write a prequel to one of the greatest American novels of all time? Why would he risk scorn from generations of readers who count Nick Carraway as one of their favorite characters in literature? Because it was the book Smith wanted to read. We hope you enjoy our profile of this future legend and Mississippi co-op member.

One last note about our new issue. April is Thank a Lineman month. As we all found out in late February during the ice storms, electric co-op linemen are rock stars and heroes. They restore power to all of us in the worst of circumstances. So, if you see a lineman, thank them for their service and dedication. You can also salute them on social media with the hashtag #thankalineman. For those who work the lines, thank you!

by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Mississippi is... The deer showing up for breakfast as the sun rises over the cold earth so early in the morning. The pups waking, stretching, ready to go for their early morning walk. Bacon sizzling in the forever old cast iron as we gather eggs from our hens to fry for breakfast. Thinking about the old Aponaug Cotton Mill where my grandmother and grandfather met some 90 years ago and where my grandmother worked as a child after my grandfather passed far too young. How hard was it on that little girl walking that old dirt road to work and back in Kosciusko. My Aunt Ruth’s home on the Natchez Parkway and all the history it held. Climbing the hill on our hunting land to watch the sky look like it’s on fire as all the colors of the evening are visible from that old stand as the day comes to a close. Where my ancestors are from, where they’ll always be and where my heart is.

by Carmen Tillman, a resident of Lucedale and a member of Singing River Electric

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 3

in this issue

6 southern gardening What’s that gray-green fungus

10 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places in Mississippi


11 outdoors today April is time to go camping

12 local news Mississippi author Michael Farris Smith swings hard and connects with “Nick”


Vol. 74 No. 4

OFFICERS Kevin Bonds - President Eddie Howard - First Vice President Randy Carroll - Second Vice President Ron Barnes - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING 601-605-8600

20 feature 20

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

on the menu Scrumptious sheet pan dinners

Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications, 800-626-1181

Circulation of this issue: 465,760

Non-member subscription price: $9.50 per year. Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 12 times a year by Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Inc., P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300, or 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS 39157. Phone 601-605-8600. Periodical postage paid at Ridgeland, MS, and additional office. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2) NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300

31 mississippi seen

Ice storms turn into spring time

On the cover


Mississippi author Michael Farris Smith stands outside of Square Books in Oxford. Smith, who recently released his new novel, “Nick,” lives in Oxford with his wife and two daughters. Photo by Chad Calcote.


How does your


Share photos of your garden with us. Photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Please attach the photo to your email. Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address and co-op. Submission deadline: June 4. Select photos will appear in the July 2021 issue.




& MAY 15







Delightful array of arts and artists from across Mississippi and beyond bringing their special creations to share. Fascinating demonstrations on pottery making, basket weaving, and painting. Special surprises in folk, contemporary, and artisans. 5864 MAC Threefoot Arts Festival Logo: PMS and CMYK


Delicious variety of foods from creative cooks from the region. Food trucks showcasing their special twists on old favorites. Try the Threefoot Bloody Mary and sample a wide selection of other refreshments!


An impressive diverse lineup on two stages for your entertainment. Follow the development of American music through the story told on the Roots of Mississippi stage. Dance to the variety of contemporary music on the Afternoon Delight stage. ON STAGE: Charlie Mars, The Jake Leg Stompers, Afrissippi, Libby Rae Watson, Josh Hedley, Da Truth Brass Band, Motown Review, Eden Brent, Compozitionz and a Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers with Britt Gully.


Characters, Art Activities, Petting Zoo, Music & Entertainment

Saluting the men and women who power our lives! The men and women who work at Mississippi’s electric cooperatives are special employees who operate the many moving parts of providing power to our members on a daily basis. Although their diligence is apparent year in and year out, 2020 was a different year than most. The past year was one defined by excessive weather challenges and a global pandemic that changed how cooperatives – and the world – conducted business. During the past year, hurricanes, ice storms and tornadoes have knocked out power far and wide. Mississippi linemen, always on call and prepared to deploy whenever needed, went out in adverse conditions in their home state as well as others in the region to restore power to residents and businesses in need. But it wasn’t just our linemen who answered the call to help our members and members of other cooperatives nearby. Office personnel put on chef hats to cook or arrange food for lineman and support staff. Cooperative communicators were dispatched to the field to shoot photos for social media to keep members up to date with the latest information. We salute the more than 2,950 employees who work for Mississippi’s electric cooperatives for their dedication this past year and commitment for years to come.

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Here’s a question I’ve been asked often lately: What is that gray-green, moldy fungus that’s growing on the trunks and stems of landscape plants? Since the algae carry out When trees and shrubs are photosynthesis, the higher in decline, and because this light saturation allows lichen moldy fungus doesn’t look to grow more noticeably. And natural, it’s often assumed this lichen gets the blame for the stuff is responsible for the tree plant decline, when in fact the and shrub problems. The next stresses causing the problems assumption is that there has to are abiotic and environmental, be some spray to take care of like drought or excessive heat. the “problem.” The best strategy to ward The culprit is called lichen, off lichen is keeping your and it seems I need to address landscape plants in optimum this organism in writing every condition. year. A healthy and well-growing Regardless of whether we plant will have a canopy that have a severe weather event, Lichen is an unlikely combination of fungi and algae that live in a symbiotic relationship discourages lichen growth. many deciduous trees and using the plants’ bark for support. Light pruning of damaged shrubs haven’t started to leaf branches encourages new branch growth, which in turn helps to out this time of the year. The lichen is very apparent on the leafestablish a denser canopy. less and bare stems. The Mississippi State University Extension Services has great There’s always lichen on tree trunks, and it uses the trunks and publications at with recommenbranches only for support. In fact, lichen will grow on any hard dations for watering, fertilization and other best management surface outdoors, from wooden fences to rocks and birdhouses. practices. I’ve seen lichen growing on a satellite dish. Lichen is an unlikely combination of fungi and algae that live in a symbiotic relationship using the plants’ bark for support. The algae supply the food via photosynthesis, and the fungi gather the water and other needed nutrients. Lichen is a very interesting organism found throughout the world. by Dr. Gary Let me tell you right now that there isn’t a spray or compound Bachman labeled for lichen because the lichen doesn’t harm our trees and shrubs. But lichen is an indicator that the plant is under some kind Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at of stress. the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Lichen is found on woody trees and shrubs that are struggling. Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. The canopy or leaf cover on these stressed plants will tend to thin He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. out, letting more light into the interior of the canopy.

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by Tony Kinton Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit for more information.

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 9

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attractiveness of those rigs commonly known as campers. One question likely permeates any beginning of a camping trip: Where? Unless some specific destination or enterprise is firm and limiting, the gates of direction are wide open. Mississippi alone is home to a plethora of desirable camping areas. Even though my family and I have been at this addiction for many years, we have yet to spend all the time we want visiting one specific route stretching north to south along the Tenn-Tom Waterway. And State Parks should also be considered. There are many, and they encompass every geographic region of the Magnolia State. And don’t neglect, when visiting any camping locale, the great variety of side trips. Historic sites, gatherings of various persuasions and eating establishments. Some campground somewhere will be close to something of interest. But then the simple act of camping itself is generally of tremendous interest. April is here. Conditions are — or will be soon — prime for being outside. Tent, RV or travel trailer — all are implements of good times. Don’t miss those potential adventures.

Revisions Requested

I always sleep best in a tent. That proclamation was the opener to a magazine article I wrote perhaps 20 years ago. And I saw the same statement leading an article in a national publication just last year. Copied, perhaps. But I don’t mind. I know the writer and have shared a great many tent camps with him; he possesses the same leanings as I. So, whether his declaration was a copy of mine or one that came to him the same as it did to me is of no consequence. The truth for many of us is concisely wrapped into those few words. April is likely the ideal month to drag out a tent or travel trailer or RV or whatever the choice. This month traditionally offers some outstanding weather for outdoor activities, with temperatures not too hot and not too cold. Fishing, hiking and biking are abundantly opportune during April. And so is sitting quietly and listening to an early-morning bird call. Camping in its various forms has long been practiced all across this country. Families and friends find the pastime a grand formula for leaving winter behind and celebrating the new life of spring. And tent camping, still my favorite, remains popular. It is likely the first step into this romantic pursuit of spending time close to the world outside permanent abodes. But regardless of the tools employed, enjoyment waits outside. Sales figures nationwide indicate that RVs and travel trailers continue to grow in popularity. These units permit mobility and proximity to the outdoors, while at the same time embracing a wide array of creature comforts. A minimum of set up, fewer items to pack and unpack, living quarters handy — these and other factors add to the


A sturdy tent is a joy to use. Canvas, while more expensive and heavier than nylon and other synthetics, is a wise choice for long-term use.


Revisions Requested

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grin ‘n’ bare it

RON Date_____


Revisions Requested

mississippi marketplace u outdoors today out d the ‘sip picture this my opinion ement

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mississippi is...

mississippi marketplace outdoors today scene around sc the ‘sip d the ‘sip picture this my opinion ment


grin ‘n’ bare it Photos by Lou Bopp

by Steven Ward One of the ideas behind starting the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale in 2004 was a mission to “mix locals with tourists from around the world.” That’s how Juke Joint Festival co-founder Roger Stolle, owner of the Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store, partly described the popular event’s birth. Another element, he said, was “to put business in the businesses” with an eye toward helping spur Clarksdale’s downtown revitalization. “Combined, these two missions would show that Clarksdale blues music and Mississippi history are important to the rest of the world, and that there is the potential to put green in the coffers of local entrepreneurs, spurring further growth and investment in downtown,” Stolle said. Because of COVID-19, last year’s festival was forced online as a virtual experience. But Stolle said the 2021 festival needed to be live and in person again — and that could be achieved by putting pandemic safety measures in place. This year’s festival runs from April 15 to April 18. “We’ve invested in tons of paper masks, hand sanitizer dispensers, tons of disinfectant products, dozens of stanchions (pole/belt barriers), plexi virus shields for indoor musicians, all kinds of health signage, mask/distancing compliance security staff, etc.,” Stolle said. Although Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves lifted all state mask mandates in early March, Stolle said “masking and all other protocols will remain in place.” “We will only change if state or local governments make us do more at that time. We’re trying to do business and music — safely and involving as many venues/musicians as we can,” he said. Although Stolle, festival co-founder Bubba O’Keefe and festival chair Nan Hughes were still working on final music lineups, events and activities in March, some musicians and events had been announced by press time. Guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram will play the free outdoor kickoff show on April 15 at 5 p.m. The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will put on a special Juke Joint Festival edition Friday, April 16 at 6 p.m. Saturday will feature a sampling of the festival’s usual

daytime stages and nighttime venues, featuring acts from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band to James “Super Chikan” Johnson. Stolle said the unofficial motto of the festival is “Half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta.” “In 2019, the festival featured over 100 blues acts, but it also featured racing pigs and (literally!) monkeys riding dogs herding sheep. The animal acts, kids’ activities and arts and crafts vendors For more information about tickets, bring out locals and safety protocols and the music regionals who might lineup, visit not otherwise attend a or call 662-624-5992. “blues festival,” he said. The music brought in tourists from almost all 50 states and over two dozen foreign countries. Stolle also said the festival has helped impact the population and business community with investments in Clarksdale from people in a dozen U.S. states as well as countries like Australia and Brazil. The Juke Joint Festival has been an important cultural and economic event for Clarksdale. “It’s been one of the cornerstones of Clarksdale’s ongoing downtown revitalization. It has brought new energy and interest to our town — not only during the event but also year ‘round,” Stolle said. “Because it is more than just the area’s biggest blues festival, it engages multiple demographics locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in a big way.”

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Here’s to Spring is just around the corner, and there’s never been a better time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Perhaps you’re making plans for a new garden or a lawn makeover. However you’re planning to revamp your backyard oasis, remember to keep safety in mind for all projects — especially those that require digging near underground utility lines. Most of us never think about the electric, gas, water and other utility lines buried below the ground, but hitting one of these lines while digging is not the reminder you’ll want — trust us! Our co-ops remind all members who are planning a digging project to call 811 at least three business days before you start. After you call 811, all affected utilities will be notified of your intent to dig. It may take the utilities a few days to get to your request, so please be patient. The affected utilities will send someone out to mark the buried lines with paint or flags. Before you break ground, confirm that all the utilities have responded to your request. If you placed your request by phone, use the process explained by your 811 call center representative. By taking this important step before you break ground on your project, you

can help protect not only yourself but our community. Disrupting an underground utility line can interrupt service, cause injuries and cost money to repair, so remember to call 811 first and know what’s below.

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If you were asked to associate an image or a person with electric cooperatives, we bet you would picture a lineman. One of the most visible employees of the co-op, linemen work tirelessly to ensure our community receives uninterrupted power 24/7. “Lineman” is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. This is understandable as they perform detailed tasks near high-voltage power lines. Regardless of the time of day, having to brave stormy weather and other challenging conditions, linemen must climb 40 feet in the air, often carrying heaving equipment to get the job done. Being a lineman is not a glamorous or easy profession. It takes years of specialized training, ongoing education, dedication, and equally important, a sense of service and commitment. How else can you explain the willingness to leave the comfort of your home to tackle a challenging job in difficult conditions, when most are sheltering comfortably at home? This dedication and sense of service to the community is truly what sets them apart. That’s why we set aside the second Monday in April to celebrate and recognize the men and women who work around

the clock to keep the lights on. While linemen may be the most visible employees at electric co-ops, it’s important to note that there is a team of highly skilled professionals working behind the scenes. Engineers provide ongoing expertise and guidance on the operations side of the co-op. Member service representatives are always standing by to take your calls and questions. Our support staff are behind the scenes working in safety regulations, economic development, legislative, communications and administrative roles. And these are just a few of the folks who work together to ensure we can deliver the service and reliability you expect and deserve. Without them, our linemen wouldn’t be able to “bring the light” to our community. Our dedicated and beloved linemen are proud to represent our cooperatives, and they deserve all the appreciation and accolades that come their way on Lineman Appreciation Day. On April 12, and any time you see a lineman, we hope you’ll join us in thanking them for their exceptional service. We also hope you’ll remember that you have a dedicated team of professionals working behind the scenes at the co-ops whose commitment to service runs just as deep.


14 TODAY | APRIL 2021

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees, but most households usually only require them to be set at 120 degrees.

THANK A LINEMAN This month, we’re recognizing linemen for the amazing job they do to make sure we have electricity! Think about all the ways you use electricity every day. Do you use a phone, watch TV, play video games or turn on lights? You’re able to do all of these things because of linemen. Below is space to write a short thank you note to your local linemen. Write your note, then ask an adult to help you send it back to us so we can share it with our crews.

Consider lowering your water heater’s temperature to save energy and slow mineral buildup in the heater and pipes.




Build. Maintain. Repair. Repeat. That’s how linemen power our lives.

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 15

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state resolution recently to honor and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi (CACM). The resolution recognizes CACM’s dedication to service, their diligent work to grow the education, training, and support throughout the state and the joining of Mississippians together in the fight to end child abuse and protect the children of our state. “The Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi is excited to have Governor Reeves and the Governor’s Office recognize 20 years of protecting Mississippi’s children. Our hope is that this recognition will open doors in communities that need the hope and healing services of a local child advocacy center, putting us closer to our goal of all children in Mississippi having access to a child advocacy center,” said Karla Tye, executive director of By launching the ‘I Protect Children’ movement, we hope CACM, in a news release. to spread awareness of the Since its groundbreaking work child establishment advocacy centers around the in 2001, the state are achieving. Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi has grown to 12 local centers across the state and served 44,064 children. To honor all of the organization’s achievements in its 20 years, CACM has launched a year-long, statewide movement, “I Protect Children,” with the hope to encourage all of Mississippi’s citizens to become aware and improve the environment for child victims and families of abuse and maltreatment. CACM is the membership organization of Mississippi’s statewide Children’s Advocacy Centers, where children who have been victimized can receive a coordinated, victim-centered response from investigators and service providers. Nearly 1,800 children enter a Mississippi child advocacy center each year to talk about the unimaginable. These child-friendly settings are designed to create a sense of safety and security for child victims. “By launching the ‘I Protect Children’ movement, we hope to spread awareness of the groundbreaking work child advocacy 16 TODAY | APRIL 2021

centers around the state are achieving,” Tye said in the release. “Some of our most important innovations include coordinating investigative training and teamwork across agencies, our nationally recognized educational collaborations with state colleges and universities, our research-based advances in investigative forensic interviewing, and our emphasis on victim advocacy and treatment.” With “I Protect Children,” one of the many goals is to inform every Mississippian that they are a mandated reporter by law. If someone suspects there is child abuse, neglect, or trafficking, they are required by law to report it. Anyone can call 1-800-222-8000 to file a report anonymously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A forensic interview simulation at the Child Advocacy Training Institute of CACM.

Join the “I Protect Children” movement by contacting your local child advocacy center or visiting I-Protect-Children and learn how to get involved.

runoff pollution before it enters by Eric L. Sparks the water. ost folks dream of As an alternative to shoreowning a piece of shoreline hardening, living shoreline line property on a river, projects reduce or reverse a lake or the Gulf Coast. There erosion and are good for the is something about looking out environment. Additionally, these over the water that is hard to projects are typically cheaper describe. and longer lasting than hardAdditionally, recreational ened shorelines. The types and opportunities like fishing aren’t Armored shorelines typically lead to a reduction of buffer vegetation that is shapes of living shoreline projbad either. critical for intercepting and filtering out runoff pollution before it enters the water and limiting erosion. (File photo by MSU Extension Service) ects vary according to the speIf you’re fortunate enough to cific location and desires of the own a piece of shoreline propproperty owner, but all of them erty, the last thing you want to If you are interested in learning more about involve conserving or restoring happen is for it to erode. shoreline management, feel free to contact native shoreline vegetation. This fear of losing shoreline the director of coastal and marine Extension This vegetation plays a combined with an increase of critical role in maintaining the shoreline stressors, such as powwith the Mississippi State University Extension health of waterbodies, but it erful boat wakes, has led to the Service and coastal ecology specialist with the also provides other benefits that hardening of many shorelines Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, at are at the core of why some throughout the state. Typical or 228-546-1025. people purchase shoreline types of hardened shorelines are property: nature and wildlife. bulkheads and seawalls. Private landowners are by far the largest group of shoreline For example, more than 62% of all the privately owned property owners. Therefore, they have the collective power to parcels of land along the shores of Back Bay on the coast are improve health for themselves, fish, wildlife and most waterbodalready hardened. While these structures do a good job of reducing erosion and ies across Mississippi. A simple decision of choosing a more natural shoreline are necessary in some higher energy situations, they are considmanagement option over a hardened shoreline can lead to big ered harmful for the environment. There are many ways they cause harm. For one, they limit the environmental changes. exchange between the shoreline and water that many fish and Eric L. Sparks is an assistant extension professor and director wildlife rely on for habitat and nutrition. Another is that armored of Mississippi State University’s Coastal Marine Extension shorelines typically lead to a reduction of buffer vegetation that Program. is critical for limiting erosion and intercepting and filtering out APRIL 2021 | TODAY 17


by Susan Collins-Smith eople love to have hummingbirds visit their yards, and these fascinating creatures are easy to attract for a closer look. The simplest way to entice them is with a few hummingbird feeders. But it is very important to keep the feeders clean, especially as the heat of summer arrives. “Commercial nectar mixes are fine, but homemade nectar works just as well,” said Adam Rohnke, urban wildlife specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “No matter which nectar you choose, always clean the feeders well with hot soapy water and rinse before the first use and each time you refill them throughout the season.” To make homemade nectar, mix four parts of water with one part of white, granulated sugar. Boil the A ruby-throated hummingbird sips nectar from mixture for two a red geranium. minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the mixture to room temperature and pour into the feeders. Refrigerate any leftover mixture. “Use only white, refined sugar for the mixture. Other sugars, honey and sugar substitutes can be harmful to the birds,” Rohnke said. “If nectar is left in the feeders after three days, replace it with fresh nectar because it can spoil.” Food coloring in the mixture is not necessary, he said. Supplemental feeders provide a way to ensure that hummingbirds can be viewed easily, but the right mix of flowering plants and shrubs can provide all the nectar the birds need. Gary Bachman, MSU Extension horticulture specialist, said hummingbirds are especially attracted to plants with tubular-

18 TODAY | APRIL 2021

shaped flowers and red blooms. “Tubular flowers hold quite a bit of nectar, and a grouping of red flowers is the signal that the kitchen is open,” Bachman said. “Since hummingbirds have the ability to fly in multiple directions and hover, having plants whose flowers cascade are ideal for watching them.” While hummingbirds are partial to red and tubular-shaped blooms, there are hundreds of blooming plants that attract hummingbirds, Bachman said. Some of his top suggestions include fuchsia, bee balm, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, trumpet vine and butterfly bush. Although nectar is an important food source for hummingbirds, their diets also include other food types, such as insects and spiders. To make the yard an oasis for hummingbirds, offer a well-rounded habitat. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

• Provide food. Hummingbirds are fiercely territorial. Offer several large groups of plants throughout the landscape to attract more hummingbirds. Be judicious with pesticides because the birds also feed on spiders and all sorts of flying insects.

• Provide water. Hummingbirds drink as much as eight times their body weight per day. Offer them safe, shallow sources by placing stones in a birdbath. They also like misters that can be attached to a standard garden hose.

• Provide shelter. A mix of shrubs and trees will provide a range of deep shade, partial shade and open, sunny areas. Hummingbirds perch most of the day and need areas to rest, cool off, warm up, and survey food sources safely.

• Provide nesting areas and materials. Hummingbirds use lichen, plant fibers, spider webs, and other natural materials to build nests in shrubs, trees and vines in low-traffic areas. Photos by Chad Calcote

by Paul Wesslund Whenever a hurricane, wildfire or other natural disaster causes a widespread power outage, people tend to ask a logical question: why don’t they put the power lines underground? It’s one of those questions that seems to have an easy answer — until you start looking at the details. The debate over “undergrounding” power lines comes with lists of pros and cons on each side. But one of those cons tends to drown out the others — cost. When people hear that burying power lines could more than double their electric bill, well, that tends to end the discussion. When a major power outage occurs, studies are done to figure out ways to reduce the chances of another major outage. And the results of those studies are often the same, citing undergrounding lines as prohibitively expensive. But co-ops keep studying whether to bury power lines, and people keep asking about it because power outages are expensive too. In fact, they’re estimated to cost the U.S. $150 billion annually. Wouldn’t burying power lines save some of that money? It’s true that undergrounding lines would protect them from wind, fire, ice and tree branches. But there are more reasons. There wouldn’t be poles for cars to crash into or overhead lines for squirrels to chew up. It would also keep poles and wires from getting in the way of the natural scenery. But overhead lines have their own advantages. While underground lines are less prone to damage, when something goes wrong, finding and repairing a problem up in the air can be a lot easier (and faster) than locating and digging up the exact spot of an underground malfunction.

Also, underground power lines aren’t completely safe from natural disasters. They’ve been known to get overwhelmed with flooding and digging or other construction can slice into underground service. But again, it really all boils down to cost. A 2012 study by the Edison Electric Institute estimated that burying existing power lines would cost between $93,000 and $5 million per mile of line, depending on the type of service and the terrain. The study also included a survey that found 60% of respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 10% more on their energy bills to have their power lines buried. The actual cost, however, would be more than 100% higher, and with that information, more than 75% of the survey respondents said “no.” Converting to underground lines could also mean higher expense to homeowners who might have to install different electrical equipment to accommodate the new connections. Some people do have underground service. One estimate places that number at two out of every five utility customers. In some cases, utilities are placing new electric service underground, even though that cost is more expensive as well. It can cost three times as much to build new underground service compared with overhead lines. About 20% of the money spent on new electric service construction of distribution lines goes for underground projects. While underground service is often impractical, utilities are finding other ways to increase reliability, by using modern smart grid technology and drone patrols, as well as more old-fashioned tree trimming. Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The Pros and Cons of OVERHEAD AND UNDERGROUND POWER LINES PROS: • Less expensive to build and repair • Easier to spot faults/damage • Can be built on any terrain CONS: • Susceptible to wind, ice and snow • More vulnerable to damage from trees and vegetation • More vulnerable to blinks caused by animals • Susceptible to damage from vehicle collisions

PROS: • Less susceptible to vehicle collisions • Not impacted by trees, wind, ice and snow • Less vulnerable to blinks caused by animals CONS: • More expensive to build and repair • Susceptible to flooding • Difficult to locate faults/damage • Vulnerable to damage from digging APRIL 2021 | TODAY 19

Photos by Chad Calcote

by Steven Ward Before Mississippi writer Michael Farris Smith decided to pen a prequel to one of the greatest American novels in history — “The Great Gatsby” — he read the book three times. The first occasion was in college. The book left no impression on him at that time. The second time he read it he was living in Paris and reading many of the “Lost Generation” writers of the 1920’s who called the French city home as expatriates. During the second reading he recognized why it earned its reputation, but the book didn’t mean much more to him than that. The third time he read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic was in 2014. This time, he was awestruck. “It was the most surreal reading experience I’ve ever had. The emotions of it really shattered me. There was so much displacement, loneliness and disillusionment of home,” Smith said recently during a visit with Today in Mississippi in Oxford.

Writing the books he wants to read 20 TODAY | APRIL 2021

The novel ends where “The Great Gatsby” begins — with Smith couldn’t stop thinking about the book and he Carraway moving to West Egg, New York and living in a decided then that he wanted to write a prequel about the cottage across the Long Island Sound from an enigmatic novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway. figure in a mansion. Smith, 51, released his sixth and latest novel, “Nick,” Because “The Great Gatsby” is such a beloved book, Smith in January and has garnered national and international said he knew beattention including fore writing “Nick” a rave review in the that the criticism New York Times. would be swift Smith, a member It was the most surreal reading experience I’ve ever had. and decisive. of North East Power, “It’s been good, lives in Oxford with The emotions of it really shattered me. There was so much bad and weird — his wife and two displacement, loneliness and disillusionment of home. all of the above. I daughters. knew I was going “Nick” takes place to have a target during World War I on my back so to in France and New speak. Some of it Orleans. The first part even came off as of the book alternates vindictive. But I between Carraway’s wasn’t not going harrowing and grisly to write the book experiences fighting because of critithe Germans in the cism. I wrote the trenches and tunnels book I wanted to and his time on leave read. All my books in Paris where he falls are the books I in love with an artist want to read,” he meets in a café. Following his wartime Smith said. Besides the experience, Carraway, New York Times rave, Smith’s “Nick” has won accolades from struggling with what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress the Washington Post, Garden and Gun, Entertainment Weekly, Disorder, lands in New Orleans. There he meets another war O Magazine and Town and Country. veteran and his estranged wife and becomes entangled in their complicated and violent relationship. APRIL 2021 | TODAY 21

South Mississippi roots Smith’s writing career is one that started late in life. “I didn’t start reading for pleasure until I was in my 20s,” Smith said. Smith was born and grew up in and around McComb and Magnolia. The son of a Southern Baptist preacher and a teacher, Smith got used to moving around because of his dad’s vocation. The family lived in Georgia for a little while as well. Smith said the moves instilled in him a geographic restlessness that still stirs in him today. “I enjoy a change of scenery,” Smith said. Smith, who said he was no book worm, was an athlete. He played baseball in high school at Parklane Academy in McComb and later for two years at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit. “The ballpark was like our social mecca. I loved being outside. I was a ball player. I went to practice and played in games. That was my life. After baseball was over, I was lost,” Smith said. Smith went to Mississippi State but had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. “I wasn’t passionate about anything at that point,” he said. Smith earned an undergraduate degree in communications because he said he “had to take the least amount of math courses.”

And this was the worst time of day. After the fight and after the recovery and before nightfall. Those who remained waited for the sounds and they came, the voices from no man’s land. The calls for help. The strained cries of dying. The sounds of pain and desperation and begging and pleading. Voices so close but so far away.


22 TODAY | APRIL 2021

Nick tucked his hands into his pockets. He crossed the yard and passed beneath the trees and looked out at the water. Out in front of the cottage lay the Long Island Sound and the water lapped lazily against the shore. He had been anxious during the day for this first night as he wanted to stand at the water. Look at the stars. Admire the lights of the mansions across the bay. He had already done that once and then slept for a few hours. And here he was again. Only an hour of night remained and then the sun would rise.

“NICK” Reading and writing After he graduated from Mississippi State, Smith got restless and moved overseas to live in Geneva and Paris. He spent a lot of time in cafés catching up on the writers that moved to Paris during the 1920s. “I was reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald and about how they were away from home and I was away from home. Hemingway went to the bullfights in Spain. I went to the bullfights. It all piqued my curiosity in unexpected ways,” Smith said. Smith’s time in Europe was when he fell hard for reading. The reading and time away from Mississippi got him thinking about writing for a living. Smith said he had no idea how or where to begin. “I came back home. Moved in with my parents. I was 28 or 29. All my friends had families, had real jobs. I had no job. No anything,” he said. Smith figured he could study creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi. The idea was improbable at best. “I had a 2.5 GPA. I bombed the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and had no writing samples. Instead of applying by mail I decided that I would drive to Southern Miss and talk to the administrator,” Smith said. Smith spoke to a woman in the administrative offices about his background, his experiences overseas and what he wanted to do. Miraculously, he said, he was admitted to the program. “I had no idea how hard it would be but for the first time in my

ONLINE EXTRA! Visit Today in Mississippi’s Facebook Page at TodayinMississippi/ to watch author Michael Farris Smith read from “The Great Gatsby” and talk about three of his favorite books.

life since baseball, I felt like I really loved something,” Smith said. Smith earned a doctorate in creative writing and got a teaching job at Auburn University in 2003. During this time, Smith wrote tons of short stories. Some of the stories were published while many more were rejected. Smith kept at the writing but moved back to Mississippi in 2007 to take a teaching job at the Mississippi University for Women. He left that job last year to write full time. Smith sold his first novel, “The Hands of Strangers,” when he turned 40. Later, Smith wrote and sold four other novels before writing “Nick” — “Rivers,” “Desperation Road,” The Fighter” and “Blackwood.” Smith has earned a national reputation for penning gritty Southern literary tales about blue collar Mississippians. Much of his writing was influenced by one of his heroes, Oxford writer Larry Brown, who died in 2004. “I picked up Larry’s book of stories, “Big Bad Love.” I had never heard of Larry Brown at that point. I read it and was stunned. I recognized the people in those stories. I knew them. They were my friends and relatives,” Smith said. “That book showed me how I could write about Mississippi.” APRIL 2021 | TODAY 23

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Last State Restricted Silver Walking Liberty Bank Rolls go to state residents

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Residents of the shaded states listed on the map below get first dibs on last remaining Bank Rolls loaded with valuable U.S. Gov’t issued Silver Walking Liberties dating back to the early 1900’s for just the $39 minimum set for state residents - all other state residents must pay $118 per coin if any remain after 7-day deadline “It’s a miracle these State Restricted Bank Rolls IMPORTANT: The dates and mint marks of the U.S. Gov’t issued Silver Walking Libereven exists,” said Laura Lynne, U.S. Coin and Cur- ties sealed away inside the State Restricted Bank Rolls have never been searched. Coin rency Treasurer for the National Mint and Treasury. values always fluctuate and there are never any guarantees, but any of the scarce coins For the next 7 days the last remaining State Re- shown below, that residents may find inside the sealed Bank Rolls would be considered stricted Bank Rolls loaded with rarely seen U.S. valuable collectors items and theirs to keep. Gov’t issued Silver Walking Liberties are actually being handed over to residents of 49 states who call the National Toll-Free Hotlines listed in today’s newspaper publication. “I recently spoke with a retired Treasurer of the United States of America who said ‘In all my years as Treasurer I’ve only ever seen a handful of these rarely seen Silver Walking Liberties issued by the U.S. Gov’t back in the early 1900’s. But to actually find them sealed away in State Restricted Bank Rolls still in pristine condition is like finding buried treasure. So anyone lucky enough to get their hands on these Bank Rolls had better hold on to them,’” Lynne said. “That’s because the dates and mint marks of the 1916-P 1919-P 1921-S 1938-D U.S. Gov’t issued Silver Walking Liberty Half DolMint: Philadelphia Mint: Philadelphia Mint: San Francisco Mint: Denver lars sealed away inside the State Restricted Bank Mintage: 608,000 Mintage: 962,000 Mintage: 548,000 Mintage: 491,600 Collector Value: $32 Collector Value: $80 Collector Value: $60 Rolls have never been searched. But, we do know Collector Value: $55 $265 $515 $800 $160 that some of these coins date clear back to the early 1900’s and could easily be considered valuable collectors items, so there is no telling what U.S. residents RESIDENTS IN 49 STATES: COVER JUST $39 MINIMUM PER COIN will find until they sort through all the coins,” IF YOUR STATE IS SHADED BELOW CALL: 1-800-997-8036 RWL1452 Lynne went on to say. “Rarely seen U.S. Gov’t issued silver coins If you are a resident of one of the shaded like these are highly sought after, but we’ve states shown left you cover just the $39 never seen anything like this before. Acper coin state minimum set by the National cording to The Official Red Book, a Guide Book of United States Coins many Silver Mint and Treasury, that’s fifteen valuable Walking Liberty Half Dollars considered U.S. Gov’t issued Silver Walking Liberty collectors items and are now worth $115 half dollars for just $585 and that’s a real $825 each in collector value,” Lynne said. steal because all other residents must pay “So just imagine how much these last remaining, unsearched State Restricted Bank $1,770 for each state restricted bank roll. Rolls could be worth in collectors value someJust be sure to call the National Toll Free day,” said Lynne. Hotlines before the deadline ends 7 days The only thing readers of today’s newspaper publication need to do is call the National from today’s publication date. Toll-Free Hotlines before the 7-day deadline ends. ■ R1025R-1 NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY, LLC IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE U.S. MINT, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, A BANK OR ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY. IF FOR ANY REASON WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM SHIPMENT YOU ARE DISSATISFIED, RETURN THE PRODUCT FOR A REFUND LESS SHIPPING AND RETURN POSTAGE. THIS SAME OFFER MAY BE MADE AVAILABLE AT A LATER DATE OR IN A DIFFERENT GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION. OH RESIDENTS ADD 6.5% SALES TAX. NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY, PO BOX 35609, CANTON, OH 44735 ©2020 NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY.

101⁄2 103⁄4 1013⁄16 107⁄8





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APRIL 2021 | TODAY 25





9200 North Maryland Ave., Niles, Illinois 60714-1397



B_I_V = Live Area: 7 x 9.75, 1 Page, Installment, Vertical updated 6.22.2018

with Rebecca Turner

What if I told you that cooking dinner could be low-key and fuss-free? It’s possible when you utilize a sheet-pan for supper. All you do is throw everything on one sheet pan, bake it in the oven, and voila! A homemade meal gets served. Sheet-pan suppers mean less prep and cleanup, so you can get back to helping with homework or enjoying an evening with the family. The best part, the recipe ideas for sheet pan meals are endless. You can customize the ingredients to fit your family’s taste and food preferences. The typical formula to a fabulous sheet pan meal is picking a protein, adding vegetables, fat, and flavorings, then roasting at high heat until everything is golden brown. Some pro-tips can help keep your protein choices juicy and flavorful. Cut boneless poultry, beef, and pork into equal pieces, allowing for more even cooking. Also, select similar-sized chicken strips, pork chops, shrimp, and fish fillets. When you oven-fry bone-in chicken or pork, make sure to pat dry the meat with a paper towel before adding the flour seasonings. Remove as much dampness as possible to give you more of the crunch you crave with fried-like foods. Some vegetables shine more than others when cooked in the oven. Root vegetables like baby potatoes, sweet

potatoes, carrots, and winter squash are their best roasted. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, summer squash, onions, cauliflower, and all pepper varieties also hold up well to the high heat. The same pro-tips apply to your vegetables. Prepare your produce into even halves or cubes for more even cooking times. You don’t need protein at all to enjoy a medley of vegetables on a sheet pan. Toss your favorite vegetables with oil and spices then use your hands to mix well. Spread the vegetables onto your sheet pan and bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring around halfway through so they can get crispy on both sides. Since sheet pan recipes call for high heat cooking, the best oils for flavoring are avocado, canola, olive oil and sesame oil. You can prevent warping of your baking sheet by uniformly covering the pan’s surface with food and heat the pan gradually. Add extra protection to the pan’s surface with a layer of parchment paper.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. You can use leftover pork roast, roast beef, pulled pork, or meat from a rotisserie chicken. Or go meat free and add fajita vegetables. INGREDIENTS 2 cups pulled pork (or desired meat) ½ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon garlic powder 2 cups shredded Colby and Monterey jack cheese ½ cup can black beans, rinsed and drained ½ cup onions, diced Sturdy corn tortilla chips

26 TODAY | APRIL 2021

2. Season leftover pork with cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and pepper and heat in a microwave or stove top until warm. 3. Spread tortilla chips evenly over a small to medium sized baking sheet. 4. Add a thin layer of cheese, next layer on the pork, and sprinkle the onions and black beans around the chips. Finish building the nachos with a layer of cheese. 5. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese completely melts (but not to bubbling!). 6. Remove from the oven, and add additional toppings, such as diced tomatoes, sliced avocados, guacamole, sour cream, olives and cilantro etc.

INGREDIENTS 3 to 4 chicken leg quarters 1⁄3 cup self-rising flour 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt (halved) ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cups baby carrots 2 cups baby potatoes, halved or quartered 1. Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle position – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon dried thyme ¾ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon dried rosemary ½ teaspoon dried basil 1½ cups peeled and cubed sweet potato 1½ cups cauliflower florets 1½ cups Brussels sprouts, halved 2 cups purple or Yukon potatoes, halved or quartered 1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Set aside. 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil, mustard, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper, rosemary and basil, and whisk. Add chopped cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and potatoes, stirring with clean hands to coat. 3. Spread vegetable mixture in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stir gently, then bake for another 15 minutes.

3. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. (Don’t skimp on patting the chicken dry!) 4. Combine the pepper, garlic powder, paprika, half the salt, and flour in a bowl. Whisk. 5. Add in the chicken and coat evenly. Arrange chicken, skin side up on the pan. 6. Bake just the chicken for 20 minutes. 7. While the chicken bakes, prepare the potatoes and carrots. 8. Add cut potatoes and carrots to a bowl and toss with the olive oil and the remaining salt. 9. After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and turn, adding the seasoned vegetables to the sheet pan. 10. Bake for another 20 minutes, remove the pan, turn the chicken, and stir the vegetables. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165F, and potatoes slide off a fork. The total cook time will depend on the chicken’s size and may take up to 1 hour. If the chicken or the vegetables get done first, remove them from the pan and continue to cook the items left.

4. Ready when potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 27

ssissippi marketplace outdoors today p picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it





5 1. Prince by Shanika Neal of Olive Branch; Northcentral Electric Cooperative member. 2. Belle and Sylvester by Angela Sims of Laurel; Dixie Electric member. 3. Simon by Kelsey Kyzar of Smithdale; Magnolia Electric Power member. 4. “Cool Cat” Marcus by Evan Hogan of Biloxi; Coast Electric member. 5. Callie taking an afternoon nap by J. Sellers of Lucedale; Singing River Electric member. 6. Pittsey by Sherry Sledge of Pontotoc; Pontotoc Electric member.



7. Muff waiting for Santa by Annette Ward of Louisville; EMEPA member. 8. Cinder aka Cindebella by Tracey Denham of Pontotoc; Pontotoc Electric member. 9. Roxy is ready for Mardi Gras by Deonna Windham of D’Iberville; Coast Electric member. 10. Mr. Knightley by Gail Mardis of Oxford; North East Power member. 11. Lois by Kim Gianakos of Meridian; EMEPA member. 12. Meneito by Sara Carter of Prentiss; Southern Pine Electric member. 13. Flynn by Susan Kelly of Clarksdale; Coahoma Electric member.

28 TODAY | APRIL 2021


9 810 11 12











14. Willow by Christy Shaw of Brandon; Central Electric member.

19. Roger by Bertie Mae Young of Utica; Southwest Electric member.

15. Smudge by Louise Stewart of Ellisville; Dixie Electric member.

20. Little with a friend by Ann Maniscalco of Ocean Springs; Singing River Electric member.

16. Miss Kitty by Neetsie Gary of Yazoo City; Yazoo Valley Electric member. 17. Sunrise with Skunky with Cherie Foster of Hamilton; Monroe County Electric member.

21. E.C. Madison with Ava Madison of Summit; Magnolia Electric Power member. 22. Tobias by Janiece Pigg of Starkville; 4-County Electric member.

18. Stormy by Sharon Stewart of Hattiesburg; Pearl River Valley Electric member.

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 29

mississippi seen

mississippi is...


mississippi marketplace on the menu outdoors today Events open to the public will be published free of charge as space scene around the ‘sip picture this allows. Submit details at least two months priorinvolvement to the event date. my opinion co-op Submissions must include a phone

number with area code gardening for publication. southern

grin ‘n’ bare it

Email to Events are subject to change or cancelation due to COVID-19. Please confirm details before traveling.

51st Natchez Trace Festival. April 23 and 24. Kosciusko. Arts and crafts, food, music, petting zoo, car show and kids area. April 23 starts at 5:30 p.m. and 24 starts at 4 p.m. Details: Threefoot Festival. May 14 and 15. Meridian. Arts, eats and beats. Children’s Corner and Art Car Parade. Downtown Meridian. Charlie Mars, The Jake Leg Stompers and Afrissippi among others take the stage for live music. May 14 starts at 6 p.m. and May 15 kicks off at 10 a.m. Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will be live on stage at 6 p.m. May 15. Details: 601-693-2787 or Barn Sale – Antiques and Collectables. May 7 and 8. Oak Grove. More than 70 collectors with trailer loads of antiques and collectibles. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday barn sale auction is at 5 p.m. Concession stand. 4799 Old Highway 11, Purvis. Details: 601-818-5886 or 601-794-7462.


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Our chief meteorologist at WJTV, Ken South, was pretty much correct in saying the rare ice storm we had at the end of winter was a “generational” event. I’ve seen a few of them — 1994 being the most memorable. I may even have wisps of recollections from the 1951 ice storm. Someone held me up to the dining room window and showed me a blue world overshadowed by dark gray clouds with white ground and shiny, drooping trees. I would have been a little less than two years old at the time. Funny, I can remember something from that far back but don’t recall right off where I laid my car keys a little while ago. Snows and ice storms are exciting events when you are a child. Not so much when you are older and actually have to get out in them. Plus, snows and ice storms are way too cold for Mississippi. So, I hope Ken is right and another bad one won’t come along for a few decades. But that’s behind us now. We are in the time of year when “God Shakes Creation.” That’s what Greenville writer David Cohn titled his first book, taken from the sermon of a Delta preacher describing what happens to the world when spring finally erupts out of winter. I grew up in Greenville but was totally unaware of Davin Cohn until much later in life. I was very familiar with his description of the parameters of the Delta. Beginning in, “The lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ending on Catfish Row in Vicksburg.” But I always thought William Faulkner said it. Actually, the Delta doesn’t quite make it all the way into Memphis or Vicksburg but stops shy of both. But Cohn was talking about more than physical

attributes, anyway. In a typical year, by the beginning of April, creation has already shaken a good bit. The Japanese magnolia has bloomed. So has the wisteria, the dogwood and the jonquils and daffodils. Irises are popping up. And by the end of the month, we will have daylilies. And the daylilies will stay with us through early June, with re-bloomers straggling all summer. I dug up a daylily bed in our yard that had become too shaded to bloom last October and transplanted everything I found into pots and put them in Miz Jo’s greenhouse over the winter. The first warm day this year I took a couple of pots of daylilies and a couple of pots of irises and transplanted them into a new flower bed. And the next morning I could hardly get out of bed my back was so sore. Now I’m wondering what I’m going to do with the other 100 or so plants that need putting into the ground. Maybe gardening needs to be a generational thing, too. The grandkids can replant my daylilies. I can just see that happening. Getting them to do that really would shake creation!

by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at

APRIL 2021 | TODAY 31