Our RV lifestyle has enabled us to see some wonderful parts of our great country. Recently we decided to drive up the Natchez Trace, an historic forest trail that goes from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. Our first stop was Natchez where we stayed on the banks of the Mississippi River. We watched huge barges, pushed by tugboats, that carry goods from port-to-port. And like they’ve done for more than a hundred years, they leave a muddy wake behind them.
I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on the Mississippi River. Mississippi was my first “big” spelling word, as I imagine it was–and still is–for many children.
My mother taught us to sing along with her… “Em. Eye. Crooked letter. Crooked letter. Eye. Crooked letter. Crooked letter. Eye. Humpback, humpback. Eye. Mississippi! ” Mom always referred to it as the Muddy Mississippi, but early in the morning before the barges come, it’s a shimmering band of iron cut into the red earth.
This morning I woke before the sun rose, but the pale, pink glow in the sky signaled the sun would be up soon. The river was glassy. There’s a wonderful paved trail along the river, and every day we’ve enjoyed the two-mile loop on our bikes. The two bridges that cross the river, connecting the Vidalia side to the historic Natchez side, loom over us. One bridge is under renovation, and to keep debris from falling into the river, it’s been wrapped… much like a Christo art installation!
I enjoyed exploring downtown Natchez, admiring the old homes and buildings. The alleys, with outside staircases to people’s homes, brought back vivid memories of my childhood spent playing in St. Louis with my sister and cousins. Back then your wash was strung in the alleys. Now there are gardens with cozy brick patios reminiscent of New Orleans. The streets are asphalt, but there’s a band of brickwork on each side that still shows, like a lace slip peeking out from a hem.
There are houses and buildings dating from the late 1700’s, along with numerous antebellum mansions. One is the home “Tara” was modeled after in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Rather than taking a tour of the mansions, I decided on a driving tour.
I think the same gene that makes me dislike clothes shopping, also makes me uninterested in the interiors of these mansions. Lovely as I know they are, I’d rather be sneaking through the alleyways where who knows what surprises I might find?