Yesterday I described the skies as “leaden”. Since then, we have seen every permutation of skies other than “blue”. As I write this, rain is POURING, POURING down, accompanied by the occasional boom of thunder as mighty storms roll over us, one after another. The temperature outside is 72 degrees (the lowest it has been in 24 hours); the temperature inside is 78, (time to turn on the A/C again). “Humid” doesn’t begin to describe it!
The night seemed endless. I took the early weather watch, while Odel caught some ZZZZ’s between the alarms from the weather radio. Around 11 pm, things were looking better in Oxford, so I went to bed, too – fully dressed except for shoes. The weather radio awoke us three or four times between midnight and 5 am as huge, powerful, thunderstorms “with tornado potential” (and tornados, for all we know) skirted Oxford five or ten miles to the north. After each alert, we turned on the local news – which had been showing nothing but weather since Saturday evening – and watched as intense red and orange radar echoes slowly moved past us to the northeast.
Odel took over around dawn, while I slept until 10 am, awakened by the weather radio another three or four times for “watches” – flood, severe thunderstorm and tornado. Slowly but surely, the front is moving beyond Oxford, taking the most severe weather with it.
We are so grateful we are here on campus! All three of the campgrounds in the Oxford area – two state parks and a COE park – were mentioned by name last night as storms edged past us. We’ve been in that situation before, in South Dakota. It is a sinking feeling to hear your campground mentioned in the litany of towns in the path of a tornado.
On the lighter (and dryer) side: three times during the day Saturday, the rain stopped long enough for us to exit the motorhome and have some fun. We took a bagful of used books to Square Books – they were interested in half of them and I was able to pick up a new book (Cornbread Nation 5, The Best of Southern Food Writing) in exchange. We had enough dry time to sit on a bench with a huge ice cream sandwich (comfort food), mingling with the locals.
During another break, we drove south eight miles to the tiny village (population 289) of Taylor, Mississippi, a bit reminiscent of Luckenbach, Texas. Taylor Grocery Restaurant is famous in Oxford and across the south for their catfish, with wait times in excess of an hour during game weekends. Too bad for us, the mid-afternoon weather window didn’t coincide with lunch or dinner time.
Most of the rest of the town’s buildings are occupied by artists – this little village is a magnet for the creative arts. Half a mile south of the village, a small, new neighborhood is taking shape, Plein Air – described as an “old-fashioned, traditional neighborhood with a with a vibrant town square”… and “its own sewer system, buried utility lines, master planned and maintained landscape system, and an active home owners association. Plans call for the entire site to have wireless high-speed internet access. A community shuttle will offer transportation to and from the Ole Miss campus and downtown Oxford several times per day.” Plein Air is less than half completed now (but does have its own fire department and one-room Montessori school), but was quite appealing and intriguing to me, and I was glad we had the opportunity to visit. You just never know what interesting spots travels will reveal!
Hey – another break in the rain! (Oops, gone.) Things are looking up here in soggy, battered, northern Mississippi, and we have escaped unscathed, not even a leak. Tomorrow? Memphis.