I love lists. Some more than others. Not that crazy about grocery lists. But here is one I had lots of fun creating!
Ten of My Favorite Things about the Mississippi Gulf Coast (in no particular order)
- THE MARSHES — When we cross the first marshes after arriving on the coast, I strain my eyes, searching for the elusive wildlife that inhabit the area — waterfowl, alligators, schooling fish. As we make our way into Willa’s neighborhood, we drive across several canals that provide an enticing glimpse of the distant Gulf. The marshes teem with activity — for those with eyes to see.
- SANDY BEACHES — Mississippi beaches are nothing like the white sugar-sand beaches of the Florida peninsula, but that’s just fine. They have their own personality. A more golden tan than white, and advertised as “twenty-six miles of man-made beach,” they do nicely. The cities along the coast work hard to keep them dragged and clean, something I wondered, after Katrina, if they’d ever accomplish. They’ve surprised me with the great job they’ve done.
- SUNSETS OVER THE OCEAN — Reds, golds, pinks, purples, all shades of blue and grey — basically all shades of the rainbow. Toss in a few wispy clouds, or even gathering storm clouds, and you have a recipe for a slide show of awesome proportions. Whether you’re driving the coast road or spending time on the beach, the skies will put on a performance for you.
- SPANISH MOSS — For a time a few years ago, I would spend a couple of weeks at a time with Willa, and I’d drive her to work most days, picking her up at 5. Her office is on the Back Bay, and the parking lot is in a large, enclosed area that has benches nestled under moss-hung trees. I loved to park, roll down the windows, turn on the car radio, and sit quietly waiting for her to come out. It was one of my favorite times of day.
- DOWNTOWN OCEAN SPRINGS — Ocean Springs lies just to the east of Biloxi, across the graceful bridge constructed after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the previous one. The French founded the town in 1699, and its downtown district is filled with businesses and shops, a mecca for visitors. You’ll find a wide variety of eating places, from potato donuts to Italian cuisine. But my favorite place is Mr. Bernard Clark’s Antiques on Washington. I love seeking out treasures in his display cases, and his collection of vintage post cards is awesome!
- FRIENDLY PEOPLE — No matter where I go, someone smiles at me. And show owners are extremely friendly, whether it’s a laid-back weekday morning or the middle of a festival-filled weekend. The biggest festival, drawing upwards of 150,000 people over two days, is the Peter Anderson Art Festival the first weekend in November in Ocean Springs. My other favorite is Cruisin’ the Coast, a fun-filled week (over two weekends) when classic cars from all eras visit all the coastal towns from Moss Point to Pascagoula.
- WARM, SALTY BREEZES — A cousin told me once to go down to the beach, wrap myself in a quilt, and breathe in. “It’ll cure whatever ails you,” she said. She may just be right.
- GREAT SEAFOOD — I know not all my favorites are always “in season” on the coast, and I’m sure at times I’m eating seafood flown in from faraway places. But it always tastes as if the chef went down to the harbor that morning and bought it fresh off the boats. I can eat about as many pounds of shrimp and crab cakes as my husband can of crab legs. And that’s a lot.
- VISITING WITH MY DAUGHTER — Willa has lived in Ocean Springs going on fifteen years, and we visit several times a year. Besides all the other things I love there, I do love getting plenty of time to kick back and relax with her, and more recently, with friends of hers as well. Sorry, no photo. She’s camera shy. But here’s her rescue greyhound, my granddog, Kenna.
- BASEBALL!! — This year is the third season for the Biloxi Shuckers, a farm team of the Milwaukee Brewers. Bill & I went to our first game last summer, and we had a blast! (Even though the Shuckers lost) We will definitely be going back this year. The players are personable, seating is ample, vendors are friendly. And c’mon, it’s BASEBALL! That’s all I need for a fun-filled outing.I call this Camera Envy.
There you have it. I could have easily done a Top 20. Perhaps another time. Until then, Take Care!
Becca’s brother has been shot dead, and now her world has been changed forever.
Was he killed in the line of duty? Or could his death have been part of something more sinister?
Becca begins a solitary search for the truth, battling her friends, the authorities, even herself.
She knows she can’t rest until she finds answers. Who could have had it in for Richie enough to put together an elaborate scheme to fool everyone? Who was really responsible for his death? Why did they want him dead?
And most important: Will she uncover the truth before the killer comes for her?
The setting for this novel is the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. Join Becca as she struggles to make sense of her brother’s death.
On sale now at these distributors:
AND… After you’ve read the book, I’d appreciate it greatly if you would review the book for me. Or leave a comment below. Or both!
Ever think you’ve made it to the end of something only to find that you’ve really only made it to the beginning?
That happened to me this week. I published my first book of fiction. read more
Photo: copyright 2011, Janet Brantley
Front Beach, Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Something was coming but I didn’t know what, and that not knowing had sent me here this evening after work – to the beach in Ocean Springs, where I could watch the balloon of golden sun setting over toward Texas.
I had parked Bernice, my little red Beetle, in one of the pull-offs, taken off my sandals, grabbed a quilt, and set out to find the perfect spot to watch another of our glorious sunsets.
On this Thursday afternoon, I needed solitude though I wasn’t sure why. My day at work at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency had been easy and without controversy. This didn’t feel like it had anything to do with work, anyway. The person on my mind, the one who’d been on my mind all day, was Richie. read more
Growing up on a farm, I always loved our woods more than our open lands. There’s something mystical about the silence that reigns there. Except that today the woods aren’t silent. The sounds of chain saws, de-limbers, and skidders are in the air. I don’t know how to feel about the changes.
It’s my land… so if I’m of two minds about it, why are they here? read more
June 9, 2014
On this date in 2002, I sat in the beautifully-appointed restaurant of Stonefield Castle Hotel in the western part of Scotland, celebrating with Bill our 35 wonderful years of being married. We dined on duckling and asparagus, haddock, and Chicken Kiev, with platters of fresh vegetables. Indeed, everything was fresh.
Our view over part of the sixty acres of gardens toward Loch Fyne (pronounced fin) was unrestricted, due to the walls of windows that surrounded us. After dinner, since it was still light, we strolled through the gardens and the surrounding woodlands, where well-worn trails took us alongside a narrow but deep ravine where exotic plants grew as if it were their native home. I suppose it is by now.
Whether they were Robber Barons or they inherited wealth, during the 19th century the western part of Scotland became home to a number of wealthy men who built homes modeled after the medieval castles that dot Scotland’s landscape. Then they sent away to all parts of the world for unique plant specimens for the large, sprawling gardens that became a must-have for the well-heeled gentleman.
Stonefield Castle is one such place. read more
Grandma Josie has been dead almost fifty-one years, but I read a letter from her three weeks ago that brought her back to life for me, for a few minutes.
My cousin David visited from Oregon, bringing with him a suitcase full of family photos and papers. I couldn’t believe it when he handed me a letter Grandma wrote to his mother – her daughter – sometime during the month in which she died. As far as we know, it is the last letter she ever wrote. read more
Americans are more fortunate than we take time to realize. When was the last time you considered that you will never have to worry about the possibility of seeing your precious child in an iron lung, lying there forever with a monstrous contraption breathing for your offspring? Or helping them learn to maneuver on a set of crutches that causes them to walk like an automaton? The reason you don’t worry about such things is that DPT series of injections children receive when they are young, as a matter of course, during pediatric visits. It is a given today that the horrible disease of polio has been eradicated. One less fear for parents.
Another disease that has been all but eradicated is tuberculosis, though there has been a resurgence of sorts in recent years. TB does still exist, but it can now be treated in much better ways than was the case a hundred years ago. TB changed the dynamics of my mother’s family, and this is a story I have been urged to write by my daughter, who says I need to focus not quite so much on fiction but should also get the family stories written before I am no longer able to do so.
Without further ado – the story of Little Eva. read more
I am a firm believer in following your dreams. Even if you get stymied or sidetracked, you probably achieve something equally remarkable, perhaps something you never had dared to even dream. read more