Monday, March 7, 2011

Mississippi Mud

As the wife of an engineer-turned-surgeon, I have had to move a lot for school, training, jobs, etc. Most who know me probably think I have a very Pollyanna-approach. And it is true. I know that each place has its share of good, bad, and ugly. I know that each place has its share of beauty, kind people and amazing adventures waiting to be experienced. And honestly, that attitude has served me well.

But sometimes, I long for my beloved Mississippi. I long for time with extended family. I long for my kids to see the red dirt -- roll in it if they must. I long for them to explore the winding path of the Natchez Trace. I long for them to see the rolling Mississippi River.

And in the Spring, I long for the smell of Magnolia blossoms, the beauty of Azalea blooms and the glory that is ONLY Mississippi in the Spring time.

For years, I have heard stories of a Mississippi tradition that my cousins began -- and invited my Mama and aunt to join. The tradition of the McCarty Pottery Sale in Merigold, Mississippi. And well, I have longed to be part of that, too!

Now, Lee and Pup McCarty began making pottery a long time ago -- 1954, I believe. The article I read about them said that William Faulkner took them to his back yard one day and offered them the clay from the Mississippi River that was on his property. As a result, each piece of McCarty Pottery has a brown line in the design representing the mighty Mississippi.

Oh, I love that!

So each March, the McCarty family -- Lee and Pup's nephews are the artisans today -- hold a sale in an old warehouse in Merigold, Mississippi. The sale is made up of all the pieces that the artisans found lacking in one area, or many. And the discounts range from half off to 99 percent off depending on the flaw.

For years, my family have placed chairs at the warehouse to "hold" their spot, weeks in advance at first, now MONTHS in advance. One of the crew has to be in the chair DAILY or the chair is removed from the line. HUNDREDS of people turn out in this little bitty town in the delta of my home state for the opportunity to dig through pottery and fill garbage cans on wheels with their favorite finds.

And guess what? This year. I was there. In person. Not just on the receiving end of a big ole UPS box with treasures my mother found. (Which was wonderful in itself!) But there in person. Digging with my daughter, my cousins, my aunt while my precious Mother stayed outside the warehouse with my boys and littlest girl because she had used her days of sitting in the "chairs" in line for ME!

The chairs...they have been out, labeled with names since early JANUARY!

My boys -- incredible sports -- guarding the garbage cans that serve as shopping carts!

Cate had a blast roaming the "streets" of Merigold! Ah, small town Mississippi!

The warehouse!

I am almost in at this point...I can see the pottery and women are already passing things back for me to put in my "buggy" saying, "Oh, this is a great price it is nearly perfect!"  I had great tutors for the visit!

My cousins knew I wanted vases, so when they found some they passed them back to me -- moving was challenging because the two aisles were narrow and EVERYONE had a garbage can on wheels slowly being loaded with pottery pieces.
The girls from left to right, my daughters Claire and Cate with my Mama, then Aunt Claudia, her daughters, Jan, Angie and Jimma, Jan's daughter, Meg, our cousin Allyson and me!

Oh, it was so much fun. So much fun! I giggled at stories my cousins told. I laughed at my littlest running the 'streets' of town with her new playmate, my cousin Jimma's daughter, Avery. And I took every hint they offered on what would take place when we were permitted in the doors.

And then I almost froze completely. So amazed was I at all the pottery, shoved here there, under tables, and everywhere! Some pieces looked perfect, some near disaster. And then suddenly the rush was on. My cousins were passing me pieces, giving me tips on how to use it, decorate with it, or fix it if need be. My daughter caught on faster than I did and began calling to me from across the aisle, "Mom, look at this? What do you think?" As she fell in love with the utterly and complete Southerness of the whole experience.

When I came out, Mason said, "Mom, I kept hearing your voice, and I would think, oh, she is coming out now. But you wouldn't come. Then I would hear you again. But still you wouldn't come out. Finally, after about the fifth time, I realized, 'Oh, everybody in Mississippi sounds like my Mom!"

Don't you love it?!

We had a blast. We had fun with family we don't see often enough. We found some amazing pottery pieces (you'll have to stay tuned for how I use them!). But mainly, I made memories with my kids (and  in the South -- doing something so completely Southern). And, well, that is a blessing that will make me smile for a long long time!


Anonymous said...

What fun! I've never heard of this!! Glad you got to be there! Can't wait to see the pottery!!!

Terry said...

What a great adventure!! I love McCarty pottery, have been to Merigold even, but have never heard of this! I love that you got to experience this with your kids and your family! Great memories!!