Mississippi Delta is a place where if you don’t take the time to pay you might miss the beauty of the land around you. It’s the place where if you don’t understand “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” or “Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” you’ll never take the time to experience and understand the heart and soul of the Delta. And that is tragic. Because there is so much here to find beauty in, to learn from, to experience.
When you drive through the Delta, the land is wide and flat. Field after field after field flies by the window. Some grow corn, others wheat, still others rice or cotton or soy. Summer came early, so the corn is too tall and the wheat will be ready for harvest too early. Little roads branch off from the main, 2 lane highway leading to small towns tucked back behind the fields. Sometimes you find strips of civilization, fast food joints, car shops, shotgun houses and empty store fronts. Times are hard in the Delta. People have been leaving, population declining, the hey-day of cotton and economic viability a dream of long-ago.
But some, some people are just arriving. Some young professionals are seeing opportunity, niches to fill. Finding ways to start business, head non-profits, become principals or superintendents before the age of 30. They want to make change in meaningful ways. They want desperately to revitalize towns. They care deeply about the people who live and raise families here. They want to be people who live and raise families here.
Why? Because the people here put great importance on relationships with others. You must be polite here in the Delta. You must say sir and ma’am. You must say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. You must hold doors open for others. You must, must, must have conversations with strangers who say hello in the store. Or on the street. Or from their car window as the drive away from the lake in Greenville and want to know what the big party on the other side of the park is. And oh? you’re TFA? Where are you placed and what will you teach and how do you like it here and pleasetelluseverythingandaskusabouteverythinginreturnbecausethat’showlifegoeshere. Slow. Focused on relationships. Small communities with people who pride themselves on being resilient and caring, survivors without the cold cynicism of the north.
And because if you wake up at 5:15am and leave for your school site at 6:10 you can find magic. The sun rises over sweeping, flat fields of green. Copse of trees dot the landscape, fading into the hazy background miles away. Mist clings to the fields and the trees, lingering over the earth as the sky lightens to purple, blue, and gold. Buildings are few and far between the miles. A crop duster dances over the fields, swinging low and then climbing high to arc around and swing low again. The wings glint silver in the early sunlight, hypnotic. There is you. There is the awakening land. There is the sun cresting the horizon and illuminating the earth. Beauty that inspires the soul, like a line of poetry or a sentence of a great novel, but firmly written into the face of the land.
“There are women who have an indefinable charm in their faces which makes them beautiful to their intimates, but a cold stranger who tried to reason the matter out and find this beauty would fail.”- Mark Twain