Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hwy 61

On Tuesday, I drove up to Greenville and back for a meeting. I hadn't been on 61 in the longest time, and I forgot what a wonderful, restful drive it was. There are acres of rural scenery, a collection of little towns like beads on a string, and tons of funny signs and interesting things to see.

Right after Vicksburg, you'll notice Haddad's Sporting Goods and Guns on your right. (I always wonder who Haddad is, and why he ended up there. Dad would probably know.) A little bit further down the road is OK Cars. (As in, "These cars ain't GREAT, just OK." Whether this marketing strategy has worked well for the proprietor, I can't tell you.)

Once you get out of the Vicksburg area, it gets really interesting. I watched a bright yellow crop duster spin like a kite in the air. I'm sure the guy was doing his job and all, but he looked like he was having alot of fun, too. (Probably someone I would like if I met him.)

When you get into the Delta, the flat land stretches itself out underneath the sky. (The day I went was gorgeous, with hardly any clouds. The sky cupped over the land like a perfect blue dome.)

Then you come to Onward. I've always wondered how Onward, Mississippi, got its name. Did the people who first settled there figure that they had reached some destination they'd dreamt about? Onward is supposedly famous for the Teddy Roosevelt hunting incident, but I associate it more with The Onward Store. It looks like the quirkiest place you ever saw, perched with a fearless cheer right on the edge of the road. Every time I drive through there, I want to stop at The Onward Store, but I haven't yet. Maybe next time . . .

There are lots of fields in north Mississippi. In fact, fields are what you'll mostly see if you drive up Highway 61. They'll have those big irrigation systems lumbering across them that look like metal dinosaur skeletons. If you drive on 61, you'll slow down alot and pass tractors or guys in trucks hauling all kinds of farm-related stuff. They'll wave, and so will you.

You'll smell alot of wet earth, some pesticide (in the case of my crop dusting friend), the occasional dead skunk. But mostly, you'll breathe in nice, fresh air. And even though the road is two-laned, you'll have it mostly to yourself and whatever music you choose to crank up on the radio. (I listened to alot of Caroline Herring - I love her song "Mississippi Snow" - and Claire Holley that day.)

Along the way, I stopped to eat one of those ice cream Drumsticks (the kind with the chocolate in the bottom of the cone) at a little gas station. I ate them all the time when we used to ride with mom and dad up to our grandparents' house in Iuka, but I hadn't had one in years. It was really good.

And I stood near the edge of the road dust, eating my ice cream, with the sun shining full on me, thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world to have time to drive, eat, see, and think on Highway 61. If you haven't done so, go there soon.


A. Boyd C. said...

Every year or two you read about one of those crop duster pilots hot-dogging and crash landing in a barn or running into power lines.

There used to be a sign around Rolling Fork about the Teddy Bear story.

About 30 minutes north of there was a guy who had scrap metal dinosaurs in his yard.

Erin M. said...

i like this story. and i'm sure you already know you write beautifully.

Nicole Bradshaw said...

Boyd - the sign's still there. Missed the dinosaurs, though.

Erin - Thanks!!

A. Boyd C. said...

It's strange to think Mississippi was once known for its bears. So well known, that we hunted and killed them all!