I've been to Mississippi before, but I've never explored Mississippi. My first thought was, "Is there much to see here?" Every so often, I get a hankering to explore a good, small, American town. Coming from Pennsylvania, I know it's easy to do in colonial states in the Mid-Atlantic, but not always so easy in the South. Or so I thought. After asking a few people for recommendations, the most suggested town was Ocean Springs, Mississippi, so that's where I headed on a rainy June day.
My first stop, which always involves coffee, was to a shop called Green House on Porter. A few turns of questioning Google Maps and asking "are you for real?" preceded me pulling into the gravel lot with a small shed on the property. After seeing the outside, I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the door, but it was a fantastic surprise. A cheerful barista greeted me and explained they only do three things: biscuits, coffee, and beer (at this point, I knew this was a great choice). I ordered a pour over from Intelligensia and their specialty sweet biscuit of the day, oatmeal ginger. The barista told me I could either sit in the shed or the greenhouse. Of course, I chose the greenhouse. Another world, albeit a very humid one, awaited visitors through the door.
Some oldies played on the radio while straight-back dining chairs and wooden benches were readied to receive guests. Colorful lanterns, flags, and posters hung low around the greenhouse, complementing the plants that give this place its namesake. Some games sit on a shelf in the back, suggesting that The Greenhouse should not always be a solo destination. A cat struts up and down the sidewalk, wanting attention but not affection. After taking all this in, I sip my coffee: mild, light, with just hints of fruit. Then the barista brings the biscuit to me; it's truly beautiful. Crunchy, but not hard; sweet, but not saccharine. It has peaches, blueberries, and sweet fluff inside, the perfect summer combination. Around me, there is a quiet hum of conversations, silent learning of readers, and a pitter-patter of rain on the tin roof. I felt peaceful enough to write, something I haven't truly done in a year or so. As I wrote, I reflected and internalized.
This past year, I have changed, quieted, injured, wept, and become more bold. I have learned that sometimes you realize areas in which you need to mature before you actually do. In a way, I felt like I was retracing my many mistakes over the past year, touching the scars that I thought were gone. Some are big, some are trivial, but all are necessary. It's painful, and to be honest, also shameful. But I am human, and we all must go through a pruning process. As individuals, as a community, and as a culture. As I glanced at the old posters and quotes, I concluded the basic human fight has not changed over the years. We are still fighting. And we will continue to fight in the decades to come. Different generations deal with the same issues, only repackaged in a modern light.
Amid greenery and southern humidity, I am thankful for the opportunity for pruning and growth. Thankful for the chance to rest and explore. Thankful for coffee and biscuits. And especially thankful for small American towns like Ocean Springs, Mississippi.