When I pulled into Meridian, MS yesterday the sky was imploding upon itself in big stacks of towering blue-green thunderheads. The rain was not so much falling as it was pounding the earth with a violent stomp. The Hampton Inn I was to check into seemed laughably undergunned for the onslaught and I sat in my police model Grand Marquis for 15 minutes just marveling at the angry blasting and blowing of the storm.
This morning I woke early due to the time change from EST to CT and pedaled across the street to the Bonita Lake trail. That’s right, 10 miles or so of singletrack across the street from my hotel.
Blowdowns, debris, and soggy soggy trails made this local park system as rugged and difficult as the trails of Pisgah, NC or my local sadist the Live Oak Connector trail. I can’t tell you how good it feels to get tough miles in while working on the road. I could just as easily be the sad drunk at the Chili’s bar playing “ain’t it awful” with the copy machine salesmen and the traveling office pogues of America. Not to say I haven’t joined them a time or two.
Mississippi fascinates me. The black-hearted beauty of this place where they sell pickles brined in kool-aid and you can see the crossed bloodlines of slaves and masters in the faces at the gas station. Well-dressed ladies in bouifant hair-do’s stand smoking stylishly while their husbands pull bag after bag from the trunk of the Lincoln. This is a place where people eagerly and energetically speak of faith and God and calling and prayer the way I speak of mission and spitting in the devil’s eye and the bitter taste of cynicism. Their sincerity is appealing in its vulnerability, but I also hear the siren’s song.
Prayer is the first to unite and the first to divide in this part of the world.
Either way their trail is awesome.