Continuing my “new to me in ’23” experiences, I went to Oxford, Mississippi, for the first time. Yes, I know. How can that be? It’s so close! It has that wonderful bookstore!
Well, it has a lot of things, and I made the most of my half a day there while Rick was riding his bike in the first race in this year’s Mississippi Gravel Cup.
My first stop: Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner.
The home is nicely preserved with beautiful grounds and rooms that are pretty much untouched. Visitors can go throughout the home–upstairs, too. There’s plenty of signage inside to explain much about Faulkner’s remarkable life and his writing process. There are recordings of him speaking, book outlines written on the walls of his office, press materials from his worldwide tours and interesting glimpses into his everyday.
I wandered around the grounds–awestruck by the fantastically gnarled osage orange trees, the stately cedar walkway, the remnants of the circle garden, the English knot garden, the buildings (especially the log barn) and the lovely solitude broken only by birds calling to each other. It’s a beautiful and mysterious place. It feels really good.
There’s a well-marked trail through the woods on the grounds of Rowan Oak, so I went for a short, solitary hike and was rewarded by the sounds of barred owls hooting to each other.
Next: that bookstore!
I drove downtown to the city Square and stopped in at Square Books, which I had heard about for years and years but had never actually visited. This bookstore alone is worth a trip to Oxford!
It’s staffed by friendly people who know and love, love, love books! I looked at the Indie recommendations, pleased that I have read many already and have others on my waiting lists. Now there are more on that waiting list.
I ended up buying a signed copy of a beautiful book by Ed Croom full of photos of Rowan Oak. (I do love a full circle!) Croom is a retired botanist from the University of Mississippi. This beautiful, oversized book is filled with his photos of the landscape and plants on the property.
Next stop: lunch.
I had a quick bite at Opa!, a Greek restaurant around the corner. The Bloody Mary here is a signature drink made with Titos and ouzo, filled with pickled things and topped with a piece of bacon. I sampled the hummus trio–traditional, red pepper and basil pesto hummus. Delicious!
I only had the morning and a bit of the early afternoon but I absolutely loved Oxford. What a lovely place, filled with the friendliest people! Truly, everyone was so friendly. I was asked time and again if I was in town for “The Wedding.” I imagine it was quite something.
This quick trip certainly was for me.