Sunday, March 30, 2014

A visit to Natchez, Mississippi

My first attempt at creating a video of my pictures on YouTube.  I hope to do more.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Heart of the Mississippi Delta

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of driving up US Hwy. 61 North, from Vicksburg to Belzoni, Mississippi, which took us straight through the heart of the beautiful Mississippi Delta. 
After leaving the hills of Vicksburg, Highway 61 is as about as flat and straight as a road can be, bounded on both sides by hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile Delta farmlands, literally stretching as far as the eye can see. 
Hwy. 61 is also known as "the Blues Highway," because legend has it that blues music was born in the cotton fields and "juke joints" of the Mississippi Delta.

I love the Delta, because no matter how many times I go, I always find new and interesting things (to me, anyway) to capture with my camera.   Like this single tree standing in the midst of the plowed fields, like an oasis in a desert. 
Come August, I can imagine several of the drivers of the big cotton pickers resting in its shade for a quick lunch.

The landscape is also dotted with farms, barns, and cabins like the one in the picture below ... silhouetted against the horizon. 

Along with the rustic farm cabins, you might also see homes like these ...

If I had to choose between the two, I most definitely would choose the second one, which is Mont Helena, a colonial revival style home built atop a ceremonial Indian mound in 1896. 

Another familiar and fascinating sight in the Delta, especially this time of year, are the brightly-colored crop duster planes flying low over the newly-plowed fields spraying whatever they spray in preparation for planting (herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer?).

I've always admired the daredevil-like skills of the pilots as they swoop down, barely clearing power lines and treetops ...

On the outskirts of Yazoo City, I got a glimpse of a rusty tin roof on an old barn, partially hidden behind the tangled vines of a fence row.  I asked my husband to turn around so I could get a closer look.

 I love the contrast between the rusty tin roof and the brilliant blue sky in the background ...

And while I'm on the subject of barns ... as we approached the town of Rolling Fork, I was saddened to see the two large silos which are all that remains of one of the Delta's most picturesque and treasured landmarks, affectionately known as the "big red barn at Rolling Fork."  

This is the way the barn looked a few years ago ...

During the early morning hours of Saturday, April 29, 2011, a strong storm with damaging winds passed through the area, destroying the barn.  Only its twin silos remained standing.  I captured the following pictures the next day ...

As we approached Rolling Fork, I told my husband that I needed to get some pictures of the silos so I could complete the final chapter in my collection of pictures of the barn. 

That old barn was one of my favorite places to photograph, and it saddened me to see that the silos were the only reminder that it had ever been.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, we were traveling up Hwy. 61 North from Vicksburg to Belzoni, Mississippi, which is proclaimed "the Catfish Capital of the World."

But that's not why we were visiting the Belzoni area.  We were looking for one of Mississippi's hidden treasures ... a wildlife management area called Sky Lake, which is home to some of the oldest and largest bald cypress trees in the world.

 I hope to share my pictures and the story of our tour of Sky Lake soon. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

First Hummer!

My husband and I were sitting on our porch last Tuesday, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a flash of tiny wings hovering amongst the branches of the newly-planted Bottle Brush plant in our courtyard.  The first hummingbird of the season had arrived, although it seems very early, especially with the unusually cool temperatures recently.  

By the time I got my camera, he, or she, was gone, so I didn't get a picture that day.  I hoped he would be back and, sure enough, late yesterday afternoon he visited us again.  

This time, I was able to get a couple of really fuzzy pictures (taken from inside, through the glass on the porch door), but at least I captured him (or her) so I could record the little ruby-throat's arrival.

I made some hummingbird nectar (one part sugar to four parts water -- NO food coloring!  Boil to dissolve sugar, and cool before filling feeders) and hung my new "chandelier" hummingbird feeder near the Bottle Brush plant so he can find it.

Here are a couple of UNfuzzy close-up shots of the Bottle Brush blooms.  I'm sure he will prefer them, but at least he'll have a choice.

Hopefully, he, or she, will spread the word, and I will be able to get some good, unfuzzy hummingbird pictures soon. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day-Trippin' to Natchez, Mississippi

Yesterday was the epitome of a bleak March day, with a high temperature of 40, gray skies, and drab landscapes. My husband and I drove to Natchez, thinking we might be able to escape the dreariness in Vicksburg, but, unfortunately, it was even worse in Natchez.  

After lunch, we rode around in some of the neighborhoods near downtown. I had my cameras with me, hoping to capture signs of Spring that might perk up our spirits and brighten the bleakness.  

My first stop was one of the prettiest homes in Natchez ... Glen Auburn, ca 1875, is Mississippi’s greatest remaining Second Empire structure. Due to the aftereffects of the Civil War, very few substantial Second Empire structures were constructed in Mississippi. Of the few that were constructed, Glen Auburn is possibly the only one that could be classified as a mansion. Many of the features originally constructed in 1875 are still present, including the decorative ironwork around the roof, roof brackets, and stone quoins (which I learned are corner masonry blocks). 


This next picture is Ravennaside, ca 1902, an outstanding example of Colonial Revival architecture. Ravennaside was the home of Roane Fleming Byrnes and headquarters for her efforts in the creation and development of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The house is currently for sale for a mere $1,150,000.

Here are a couple more houses that caught my eye ...

One of the most disheartening things we saw as we cruised the neighborhoods, were the Japanese Magnolia trees that had been, literally, "nipped in the bud," as Barney used to say.

Japanese Magnolia trees like the ones shown above would normally look like the ones below this time of year ...

 There were a few buds on the trees, but their foliage was severely burned by the cold.  
Sad though it was to see, at least we were encouraged to see little green leaves sprouting from the branches, so all was not lost.  

 Camellias were everywhere, and a lot of them were suffering, too ...

On a lighter note, I was delighted to see this beautiful display of tulips on one of the downtown streets.

The Natchez Spring Pilgrimage [March 8th - April 8th] will be in full swing in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure by then the azaleas and dogwoods will be blooming and those tiny green leaves on the Japanese Magnolias will leave no trace of the damage done by the ice and cold of a few weeks ago.

The streets, houses, and gardens of Natchez will be transformed into a blaze of color and "Spring GREENness" ... and all will be right with the world.

[I captured the following photos during the 2011 Spring Pilgrimage in Natchez]


Myrtle Terrace
Stanton Hall
 The Burn