Focused on Mississippi: The Last Day of Summer in the Delta

Focused on Mississippi

SHARKEY COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – The most prominent exports from the Delta have historically been cotton, soy beans, corn and of course, Blues music. The more famous musicians have their markers all over the Delta to let you know where they were born and where they were living when they left for Memphis or Chicago.

Behind them, they left their muse. The flat, hot Delta. It’s full of little crossroad towns, where you can get a Coke and a bag of chips for lunch. The little hamlet is usually near a creek or a bayou, with alligators and water moccasins.

And every place in-between that isn’t a lake bank, a village or a cemetery, has been cleared and planted and is cared for as if life depended on it. Because it does. If there’s a good crop year, everybody benefits.

But the last day of summer in the Delta is sort of like it has been since the middle of May and will be until may a week or so after the Mississippi State Fair. It’s hot. The distance all joins into a dream dance of shimmering reality bending and blending: horizon with sky, road with tree line, water that isn’t there.

There is a dance the clouds do with the corn rows, too. It’s too slow to see in real time. You can’t really tell what’s going on. It’s only when you look back at it and speed it up can you pull out the patterns. Speed it up, and you can tell exactly where you went wrong.

But speed things up here and see. Light and shadow. The sky teasing the earth. Now you see it, now you don’t. Watching the clouds washing over the Delta on a hot day is a day dreamer’s paradise.

But on the last day of summer, there’s not too much time for day dreaming. Cotton’s already being picked somewhere. The feed corn will soon be cut, and the soy beans will be combined. And the land that changes so slowly and changes so little summer into fall will look entirely different by the time fall clicks over into winter.

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