Columbus is filled with pilgrims these days. They wear “comfy” shoes and cameras around their necks, and expressions of awe. These are time travelers, truly aware that they have arrived in a very special land, so distant from everyday reality.
It must be amazing to understand the wonder of a journey in real time. Sometimes, admiration and respect are responses that come later, when the importance of an expedition has had time to be absorbed.
Many of us take Columbus for granted. We are so accustomed to the innate grace of our town and its inhabitants. This time of year it is a pleasure to see it through a traveler”s eyes.
I have had much fun this week answering the phones at The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. Potential pilgrims from all over the country are calling for directions and advice. They ask about specific homes, tour times, or restaurants. I try to tell them about the super-cool double decker bus, or Noon Tunes, or Grilling On The River. I have trouble remembering everything.
“There”s so much to do here,” I tell them. “You really should consider staying overnight in one of our charming bed and breakfasts.” It”s an easy sell.
An amazing fact to most callers is that these are actual homes. They are not museums (except for the Stephen D. Lee Home). These exquisite edifices are actually inhabited by their owners. And, just because they are all antebellum, do not think that there is a sameness. Each is unique, with details and collections that are theirs alone.
In many ways we, too, are making a pilgrimage to the Columbus that is seldom seen, even by locals. A lot of the homes are only on exhibit at this time. Chris and I, along with Miss Moonpie, plan to pay a visit to Riverview by candlelight.
I loooved the Possum Town Yard Sale, even though it meant getting up too early. We never miss the spooky stroll through Friendship Cemetery at night. Escorts and actors from the Mississippi School for Math and Science make Tales From The Crypt remarkable. (And … dare I say it? … educational, too.) These are events that cannot be experienced year-round.
For those who are reluctant to return to tedium after Pilgrimage, the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting No Dead Authors Sunday, April 18.
This month”s special guest will be Catherine Pierce. She is a creative writing professor at Mississippi State University, prize-winning poet, and author of “Famous Last Words,” a collection of her work.
She creates poems inspired by strange things like longing, or a blank space, or doo-wop. In “Love Poem To The Word Lonesome,” she writes:
“I want your single hawk
wheeling overhead, breaking
the sky into pieces.”
Beautiful! Is this something you really want to miss, no matter how exhausted you are from Pilgrimage?
This event is free and open to the public. It may just be the perfect place to grab a bit of refreshment, rest your weary feet and listen to some lovely verse. Meet Catherine Pierce at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center, 300 Main St., Sunday at 2 p.m.
So, no matter if your journey is to the gracious homes of another century, or into the lovely words of a talented poet, continue on your path. Each pilgrimage is personal. Our own passages might not whisk us to faraway lands, but joy may well be encountered in our delightful back yard. Either way, don”t forget to wear your “comfy” shoes.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
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