Bucket Lists

I’d heard of bucket lists most of my life but I never had one myself. That is, I thought of things I wanted to accomplish, but it was never of the formal “I have to do this before I die” bucket list. I’ve managed to accomplish most of my initial goals, but the blessing and curse of goals is that there’s always another one. Get one out of the way and you discover the goal posts have moved. Plus the one or two that have not been reached, as you consider them, realize that, yes, you still want that. I have a few like that, but all I can say on the subject is “I’m working on it” and try to make sure that’s true.

And then there are the things that ambush you. Things you want to do or achieve that you didn’t even realize were a “thing” at all. For instance, when I knew that I was leaving Mississippi—though not yet sure to where—there was suddenly a list of things I needed to do beforehand. I’d already been to Miss Eudora Welty’s stomping grounds in the Belhaven district of Jackson, and even shopped at the grocery store she frequented. I needed to visit Square Books in Oxford, MS, a place I’d meant to go for years but never managed to get there. Done. I needed to visit Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner, also in Oxford, so that was a two-fer, What else? Well, there was the Choctaw Indian Fair at the Choctaw Reservation. I’d never been, so we packed up and went. Only to be blindsided by a bit of nostalgia as we went to an event held in the Choctaw High Gym and I remembered I’d been there before. I had run on that very track around the field where the stickball games were played, back in my HS days. Maybe that was why I needed to go. Something else to say goodbye to.

Regardless, we moved to central NY state and began the process of learning about our new home. We visited Cooperstown, but more for the Farmer’s Museum than the Baseball Hall of Fame. We went up to Old Forge and Lake George in the Adirondacks. We visited Woodstock almost by accident, since Carol wanted to go to a store in a nearby town and afterward we got a little lost. Cool place, and we’ll probably go back. Then we heard of a special event being held on Yasgur’s farm. Did a double take. THE Yasgur’s Farm? The very same. The place where the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was held way back in 1969. Something I hadn’t realized before then was that Woodstock wasn’t held in Woodstock, since the original site fell through. It was then moved to a farm in Bethel, NY, in the Catskills. Yasgur’s Farm, as in the song. So we went to a place I hadn’t realized I needed to go.

I still don’t have a bucket list, because I think the idea is silly and limiting. There’s always something new to do, an experience you didn’t know you needed. When the time comes, the thing reveals itself. Go for it. Not an admonishment, by the way. Just a reminder. To myself, if no one else.

P.S. The new “Story Time” should go up on Wednesday. I’m trying that as the schedule for now. What’s it going to be? Not telling.

Oxford, Mississippi

RowanOak-Approach

A week ago Wednesday was Carol’s and my anniversary, so we decided to take a day trip up to Oxford, MS, primarily to take a couple more things off my bucket list—visit Square Books in downtown Oxford and, what the heck, make a pilgrimage to William Faulkner’s beloved home, Rowan Oak. Two more things off our list of things to do before/if we leave the state.

Square Books is one of those places that people tend to moan the disappearance of, except so far I can tell, local independent bookstores are doing just fine. The ones I know have been around for decades and show every sign of being around for decades more. The only picture of the actual store I have has Carol in it, and I’ve been threatened with bodily harm if I post it, so I won’t. I’ll just say that the place is a bibliophile’s dream, and it left me a bit depressed. I’m still working out why.

After that it was off to Rowan Oak. I do see why he loved the place—the grounds are lovely, the house was at once grand and still homey. I know you’ve all heard the story of the time Faulkner was in Hollywood and finally told his bosses he needed to work from home, he couldn’t concentrate in his studio office. So they said fine, assuming he meant his rented digs in Hollywood, but of course he meant Rowan Oak, and he was on the next train out of there.

Faulkner-BedroomFaulkner-Office-MantelFaulkner-Wall-Notes

I haven’t taken too many pictures, because all I had was a camera phone with really crappy battery life, the light was poor, and the battery was dying even as I got these few. Most won’t need explanation, but I did get one shot of the walls of Faulkner’s home office. Apparently he had the habit of writing blocks of continuity/daily notes on the walls. The shot was hard to get, but you might be able to see a little bit.

The last shot is just of a really old and mystical osage orange growing in front of (and I feel weird even saying it) the servants’ quarters. In some ways Faulkner’s world seems hundreds of years in the past, but it wasn’t that long ago. What’s the adage? “The past isn’t gone. It isn’t even the past.”

Note: My apologies to anyone who gets this twice. I was having problems with the pictures and had to redo the whole thing to get them to display properly.

Faulkner-Osage-Orange