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Two Different Worlds, Two Different Springs

Two Different Worlds, Two Different Springs


This is my first spring in the South. Some days feel like a New York July, as if summer has been born prematurely, the heat of the afternoon already holding over until bedtime. The climbing temperatures hasten the rush of spring.

The field to the right of my house has been plowed and laid out in neat rows. Eddie Peacock and Beau Kimes share the field but plant separate gardens. Eddie rims his tomato plants with crushed eggshells; Beau is adding sunflowers this year.

My landlord brought his brother’s saw up from New Orleans and, wearing a hard hat, rode a cherry picker high into the limbs of the pecan and black walnut trees, creating an open canopy for summer.

Josh Ferguson circles the yard pruning and cutting back, taking poison ivy to task and performing triage on old, scale-infested azaleas. He wears earbuds while he works, hearing private sounds as he cuts and mows, coaxing the old Boggs place back to respectability.

Spring also brings elections with lawn signs announcing the household’s preference. I am registered to vote but being new in town have yet to form strong opinions. Before the primaries, two candidates for mayor and the incumbent’s wife stopped by to ask for my vote. Each promised hard work and good intentions for Water Valley.

Mulching has begun, pine straw is hard to find. A wandering cat kills moles and stalks only heaven knows what in the high weeds. Most afternoons a rabbit with regular habits pauses down near the fig trees; I have started looking for him around five o’clock. And I met my first turkey buzzard strutting along a narrow country road.

A path of stepping stones has been laid from the drive to the porch, keeping passing feet above the spring wet. New apparatus to hold my flowers upright arrived from Vermont by UPS; sleeveless tops from Bloomingdale’s came through by express.

Inside, the glass is up on the storm door, a bit of breeze moves through the screen. The switches on the overhead fans have been flipped, moving cool air up rather than warm air down. One of the many unknown things I needed to learn in Mississippi.

My attempts at gardening here are showing promise. Black molasses and red Purina tubs, emptied by the cows, now hold my hopes for duplicating a bit of northern beauty. Tomatoes and peppers have flowers, lilies shipped from Tenne-ssee have recovered from the strain of interstate travel. 

The hyacinth vine remains, however, in critical condition. No amount of squirting with deterrent stops Mississippi bugs from dining on its tender leaves. The sturdy lantana and butterfly weed, already putting on a little show of color, snicker at the bugs and grow on. 

Meanwhile, Long Island greets another spring. In the far North, beyond the flowering magnolias, beyond the fields of cotton, beyond the pitchers of sweet tea, stands an even more familiar spring. There a coastline offers its rugosa roses, its ripening beach plums, its egrets nesting high on utility poles in sight of the sea.

This is the richness of a transplant life, knowing two different worlds, two different springs.

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