August 2, 2021

MISSISSIPPI BEACH DAYS

We spent three nights in a charming blue two-bedroom cabana in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This front porch was my favorite spot for early mornings and evenings.  There are a cluster of some twenty houses, ranging in size from tiny houses to cabanas to larger two-story houses.  One evening the nurse who lived next door came out on her porch and we had a delightful conversation.  She explained that most of the units were month-to-month rental homes.  Ours and a few others owned by the same woman are rented as Airbnb units. The neighbor moved to Ocean Springs a year ago for a position as Infection Control nurse for the local hospital.  She had just closed on a home and would be vacating her rental cabana as soon as her new swimming pool is built!

The local Rouse’s Market was a delightful grocery featuring all kinds of Cajun and Creole food items and seafood specialties.  We feasted on samplings of local cuisine at our cabana—and added homemade deviled eggs to the mix.

The lovely residential streets of Ocean Springs were lined with live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.  We drove past what is thought to be the oldest live oak in the area—the Ruskin Oak on private property.

My favorite local attraction was the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.  Anderson (who died in 1965) is Mississippi’s most famous artist, although little appreciated during his lifetime.  He led a tortured life in many ways, often spending time in mental institutions.  After his death, his wife Sissy and her sister Pat discovered The Little Room, which he had kept locked.  He had spent years painting all over its walls. The room is now housed in the museum.

We bought several books at the museum and I read his wife’s memoir while sitting on the cabana porch. She was a wonderful writer and her account of life with this unique artist was fascinating.  Despite all the pain she and her four children endured, she loved this man unconditionally and accepted him as he was.

While driving on General Pershing Avenue in Ocean Springs, we observed what we called the “neighborhood flag debate.” A large white brick house on the corner had the former Mississippi state flag (which included the Confederate flag) in the front yard, with a printed sign proclaiming their pride in their Confederate ancestry.  In their side yard were more Confederate memorials and signs, as well as lovely flowers.  At the house directly across the street flew a Pride flag with the slogan, “We the people means all the people.”  Other houses along the block added their statements—one with an American flag and a Tennessee state flag, one with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, and several with the beautiful new Mississippi state flag.  That’s the Ocean Springs way to make your feelings known!

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