By Mickey Howley
Summer un-officially ends on Labor Day, thought the actual first day of autumn this year is not until September 23. The most important date between now and then is Saturday September 20, that’s the day of the Water Valley ArtCrawl. Or evening I should say, cause the crawl is from 5:30 to 9 p.m.—okay there will be an after party also. Once again the Water Valley Art Council has put together a varied, eclectic, and different line of crawl stops from past five years. That’s the great thing; no two crawls are the same. And once again the Crawl will show off the Valley’s range and depth of creative energy and people. It’s my favorite fall evening, even though this year it will technically still be summer. Mark your calendars and get ready to hit the streets.
It was an anniversary of sorts last Friday. It was the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming ashore in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the first anniversary where I did not think of that *@#&! storm and was just another day in late August until someone reminded me by asking, “Do you know what day this is?” I had to think and then the memories flooded back.
In 2005 I’d already been in North Mississippi six years, three in Oxford and three in the Valley. So I was high and dry. And you might think a place with the name “Water Valley” would not be the first choice for anyone fleeing a flooded city, but for my whole family the town was a great place to be.
They all did go back, we planned the systematic and collective return to Orleans Parish on the Blackmur front porch. Figured what assets we had, what skills sets we possessed, how to sequence the work, and set priorities. Three years later and five houses re-built—re-built seems a mild word for all the effort it takes to fix houses that sat in nine feet of salt water for almost a month— everyone was back in their home. And Vallians were above and beyond helpful and Water Valley itself was that calm refuge for my family in those weeks after landfall, I’m just forever grateful.
Grateful is a word I’ll use for the Farmers Market also. Not because last Saturday it closed for the season, but because it exists in the first place. Seven years ago when Justin McGuirk and Alexe van Beuren got the market up and rolling, I’m pretty sure neither imagined what the market and downtown would be like. Or what the market would consistently do.
The market has remained just what it was from the beginning, a simple but effective way to get local fresh food direct from producers to consumers. But it is way more than that. The “FM” gets folks together every summer Saturday morning to talk about what is going on, and more importantly, what could go on. There have been so many great folks this season at the market, just a few are the Herrings and Hayles, O’Donahue and Ondrovcik, Gafford and Guyer, Burkes and their buggy. See you next year under the big magnolia.