Last week I spent four days in Southern Mississippi for the Second Gulf Coast Clay Conference. The conference was held in Perkinston and Wiggins, MS.
This was my first trip to Mississippi (except for a few hours I spent in Hattiesburg the December before Katrina for a Cal football game). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but here are a few things I experienced.
Teaching pottery workshops is a lot of fun. You are making pots. You are talking pots. You are meeting lots of great people who love to make and talk pots.
Workshops are also a lot of work. I was exhausted by the end of day two. Luckily, day three only required me to hang out, watch Pat Bodine (of Bodine Pottery) demonstrate barrel and raku firing, and eat crawfish. And after two days of being in separate classrooms, I got to spend some time with Randy Brodnax and watch him throw pots.
We are talking about me returning for a week long hands-on workshop about pots as a healing medium. I will keep you posted.
The people of Mississippi and the Gulf Coast region are a generous welcoming bunch. They also love their story telling. It seems that everyone knows everyone here regardless of geography. People in Pensacola, FL know people from Monroeville, AL, as if they are all next door neighbors.
People in the south are natural storytellers. From Len Blackwell who entertained us during lunch the first day, to just about every participant who attended, Southerners love telling stories.
I was got to experience Southern hospitality. I was made to feel very welcome. And even though I’m not from the area, I felt at home.
It is quite pretty in Southern Mississippi with lots of trees and water. Yet the imprint of Katrina runs deep in the populous. Almost everyone here lost something, if not everything in Katrina or other hurricanes. Hurricanes shape the residents and who they are. They definitely know that you have to let go and not get attached to results.
Unfortunately, Southern Mississippi is not Louisiana. On my restricted diet, eating was a challenge. But on my final day there, I was able to experience a true crawfish boil. Oh yummy.
I do hope to return and learn more about this region and its people, and maybe even help bring a little healing. Until then.