April 1, 2012
The last time I checked in, I had just arrived in Indianola, Mississippi after a 12-hour drive from Chicago. I spent a wonderful three days in the Mississippi Delta, appearing at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, and at the Drew Public Library, doing theatrical readings from The Order of Odd-Fish and leading a “Dome of Doom” writing hootenanny / costumed dance party freakout. I collected some pictures of the fun in the collage above. I loved the enthusiasm of the kids—they really got into the costumes, the writing exercise, and the dance-fighting. They made me feel so welcome! I’d go back to the Delta in a heartbeat!
And oh, oh, the food! Shrimp and grits! Catfish! The best steak I’ve ever had in my life at Doe’s Eat Place! My host and guide throughout my stay was Mary Ann Stone, whom I met at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans last year. When she floated the idea of me visiting the Delta, I leaped at the chance. I’d never been there before; I had no idea what to expect. She said I’d have the time of my life and she was right. There’s Mary Ann on the right, when we were hiking up some ancient burial mounds. On the left is me with a squirrel that she had nursed back to health.
When I texted the squirrel picture to Heather at home, she showed it to my daughter Lucy who said, “Why is that cheeky squirrel crawling on Daddy?” Cheeky? Where does she pick up such terms living in Chicago?
I never knew Jim Henson was from the Mississippi Delta. The beginning of The Muppet Movie, when Kermit is playing the banjo in the swamp, makes total sense now. I learned this and more when I got to go to the Jim Henson museum:
There was so much more: going to blues bars, meeting the hilarious and inquisitive kids, and long car rides which went by in a flash as Mary Ann told me stories (for instance, such as when the river flooded and her house was mostly underwater, and she had to take a boat to work.) I couldn’t have asked for a better guide or host.
Thanks, Mary Ann—and thanks to everyone in the Delta who made it so much fun! After Easter, I’m heading out east for another leg to my springtime author frolics—this time, to Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Charlottesville. Including the school at which I used to be a science teacher from 1995-96, St. Catherine Laboure! More to come . . .