Going through a difficult time a few years back, I remember looking out an upper church window and seeing crepe myrtles in bloom. I thought, “How can it be June already?” Time had stood still, during that dark period. Wrapped up in my troubles, I lost track of the days. The frilly, periwinkle pink blooms snapped me into my then present.
Five Junes have come and gone. Crepe myrtles start to bloom now and last through August. With them come a reminder of getting through a tough transition and also the gift of a beautiful future.
Here are some pics from my evening stroll through Magnolia, Mississippi. The park in the old depot yard is serene and harkens to days gone by. Enjoy your walk on the quiet streets of Small-town, USA. Try to hear the mockingbirds singing their various trills, the cars passing on Hwy 51, children’s voices calling out in a game of chase outside the barber shop.
The Mardi Gras creep has hit our part of Mississippi. It used to be that if you wanted to celebrate, New Orleans, Louisiana or Mobile, Alabama was your party destination. Now the once Catholic-only observance has crept into small towns all over our area. I said all that, because getting to my farmhouse this morning meant taking the long way ’round. Magnolia has become part of the Mardi Gras creep, offering not just a family friendly parade, but also a carnival. Shutting down the streets for the parade made navigating through town and out to the country difficult. A thirty minute drive wound up taking twice as long.
Clean up around the barn has started. We’re turning an old garden spot into an area to raise bottle calves – for the freezer – not for pets. Won’t be giving them names… Unless we christen it Barbie for barbecue!
While I waited for my helpers to arrive, I put together the following recipe: Chocolate Coffee Cake. Super simple.
Chocolate Coffee Cake
1 small boxed chocolate cake mix (I found the mix I used today on the $1 aisle of the Piggly Wiggly. Pick up a couple. They’re great for a quick mix-up.)
1/2 cup of water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 350°. Spray a 9″ cake pan with vegetable spray. In a medium bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients together and pour into prepared cake pan. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Shake the cinnamon sugar evenly over the top of the cake batter. Place cake pan in the center of the oven, baking about 30 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan or a knife, inserted into the center, pulls out clean. Cool in the pan and then transfer to a pretty plate.
After stringing fence, we went inside and enjoyed coffee and cake on a drizzly, February Saturday afternoon.
After an early Easter dinner for some family members that can’t make it tomorrow, I took a stroll around Magnolia. Where is Magnolia, you ask? I have been asked this many times and usually answer, “In the middle of Nowhere and an hour and a half from Everywhere.” Tucked away off I55 South, close to the Louisiana line, this small town is the center of a cross that’s relatively 90 minutes from Baton Rouge, LA, Natchez, Jackson, and Hattiesburg, MS.
Magnolia is the county seat of Pike County and as I write this I realize that I neglected to take a picture of our courthouse. The grounds are quite pretty with lots of azaleas and magnolias.
Here are 3 of the churches in Magnolia: Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and United Methodist. There is also a Catholic and a Southern Baptist Church.
Down the block and around the corner is the Magnolia post office. Built in the 30’s, the architecture is very pretty and you step back into a less busy era when you walk through the front doors. Three murals painted by J.H. Fyfe depict rural life of nearly 200 years ago. The dark stained wood work in the foyer is remarkable for a little town like Magnolia. It’s worth a day trip to come and see.
Magnolia Post Office
Another block and you’re at the old depot. It was completely renovated a few years back and is now the town hall.
The park in the depot is planted for Springtime and the Magnolia trees are all in full bloom.
City Hall is now in the depot.
At the opposite corner of the depot grounds and catty-corner across the street is Handy Hardware. This old fashioned hardware store lives up to its name. From live crickets for fishing to plumbing supplies; You need something, they’ve got it. And in the middle of West Railroad Ave a new consignment shop has opened up. The Me’lange Market has some interesting pieces. And like Handy Hardware you’ll be pleased with what you find in this shop. Another staple and anchor in Magnolia is the Corner Drug Store. It started out on the other end of Railroad Ave, but was moved quite a while ago to its current location.. It has been in business well over 100 years. Their slogan is ‘right on the corner and right on the price’. I clerked there as a newlywed 30 years ago and now college man works there in the afternoons. Go by and tell him, “Hi!”
Corner Drug Store
I continued my walk and returned home. The huge ancient live oak greeted me in the early evening.
Magnolia, MS is a nice place to take a respite in Nowhere, while traveling from Everywhere else. Stop and get a bite to eat at one of our restaurants, fill up your gas tank , and enjoy the slower pace.
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen for a Happy Easter.