Everyone has a “bucket list,” right? And mostly it’s somewhere exotic, or expensive, or far, far away. Correct?
But I bet you never thought of our home city, Jackson, as a bucket-list destination. Well, Natalie West, a freelance writer in Mississippi, thought Jackson was worth a whole book, and she wrote it, a streamlined version of longer books on larger topics, “100 Things to do in Jackson, MS, Before You Die.”
And Reedy Press thought it was worth publishing, and so it’s ready, just in time for spring break. If you don’t find it in local bookstores quite yet, email Lanna Demers, Idemers@readypress.com, and be ready to invest $16 in a small, slick, fact-filled but not too formal book about just everything there is to do in the capital city of our state, and in the immediate surrounding area.
And when you read it (and I suggest you ought to get a copy and have it handy before out of state visitors arrive) and you want to get in touch with the author, Natalie West, she can be reached at email@example.com, possibly to explain why she left out your number one favorite destination. She knows whereof she speaks, for she’s called Mississippi home for more than 30 years and has been writing about her home state for more than 20 years. She says she has three awesome daughters, two neurotic dogs, and an agnostic fish.
Of course as first of all a gardener, a garden writer, and a garden visitor, I was disappointed not to have a section devoted to my favorite destination. But specifically, how could she leave out Mynelle Gardens?
Did the two neurotic dogs or the agnostic fish have the deciding “Nay” vote?
The first section deals with Food and Drink, 20 destinations, followed by another score of Music and Entertainment destinations, then on to Culture and History (let me get back to this one), followed by Shopping and Fashion, always a top draw for the “retail therapy” contingent.
And she does include many of my favorites in each of these categories, and also, bless her heart, has a detailed index in the back.
Also there’s a suggested itinerary of eight to 10 stops that cut across the basic categories: Architecture, Art Spree, Blues Tour, Civil Rights Sites, Handmade Treasures, For History Buffs, Literary Tour, and the obligatory “The Help” tour. And there’s an equal grouping by the seasons.
If you have just one or two main interests, and you are anticipating a week’s visit from a family with diverse interests, for instance, the shopper/craftswoman mother, the golfer or sports devotee husband, the “Ho Hum, what’s there to do tomorrow” pre-teen, and the eager beaver high schooler out to capture lots of unique facts and attractive resources to wow the 10th grade teacher who cannot think of anything better to waste that first hot week of back to school with than presentations of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” this is an invaluable book.
The really clever sophomore would perhaps turn his presentation into a contest, to see which of his fellow students, or his teachers, had ever seen these special destinations.
If you just must have your gardens, you will find some guidance in the Culture and History section. There is a paragraph about the gardens at the Eudora Welty home, and a good back-to-nature discussion about camping at LeFleur’s Bluff. And of course much of the description of the ag museum and the Natchez Trace is good for those who love growing things, and exploring the out of doors.
All told, the only specific destination that I think should have had its own chapter is Mynelle Gardens. It’s not what it once was, when Mynelle Hayward planned and planted it, but even things that are somewhat careworn are still of great joy to many of us.
So get a copy, and leave it around prominently, for a time when your own, stay-at-home family claims there’s nothing to do, or someone wants to know where to go eat, “that’s different.” Or hand it to your college student and ask if there’s anywhere that the rest of the family ought to know about.
And remember that a guidebook with clean pages means you didn’t have any fun. There’s plenty of room to make notes, so do it.