The Big Bake is over, ending with monsoon-like rains. Now Mississippi is blessed with a few weeks of perfect weather. October and April are indeed wonderful in Mississippi.
The average year-round temperature in Mississippi is 68 degrees. Unfortunately, there are many variations to arrive at this average. Its good. I like change. I think I would be bored with the similarity of perfect weather.
Accompanying this perfect weather was a perfect weekend of sports and camaraderie. My golf buddy Chris Burkhalter and I met at the Oxford Country Club for a 1.30pm tee time with two people we didn’t know.
I can say this: The Oxford Country Club was in exceptional condition. The greens were almost perfect. In fact, all golf courses in Mississippi are in stellar conditions due to all the rain followed by dry conditions.
We met Donnie and Paul, longtime friends in the field of anesthesiology, and it didn’t take long for the jokes and friendliness to seep in. By the end of the round, we were like longtime friends, beating each other up after good hits. Golf can be like that, especially on a perfect course with perfect temperatures.
While I was golfing, Ginny had lunch with our daughter Ruth, a sophomore at Ole Miss (a Kappa). I joined them for the Kappa parents’ night at the library. Man, those Kappa girls are cute! Dozens and dozens of them.
I admit it was a little disappointing to realize that The Library was a bar. I feel stupid for thinking all those credit card charges were for checking textbooks.
Earlier today, Ginny and I bought steaks for six at Corner Market. Ok, I admit that I had no idea about the increase in meat prices. I’ll stop swearing at restaurant steak prices.
David (DC) Carter and his wife Kathryn were joining us for steaks at the Burkhalters home in the Oxford Country Club area. DC would bring their block of Himalayan salt for the grilling process. More impressive.
Ginny and I got really lucky this weekend. We normally stay just off Oxford Square with the Dunagins – dear forever family friends. But their daughter Kathy was bringing her whole group to the Kentucky game.
When Chris told me he had room at his place, I texted him, “You’re my new best friend!”
Ginny was nervous because she didn’t know my golfing friends or their wives very well. It didn’t take five minutes for the ice to break and we had a great time together. Chris’ wife, Alexis, was the perfect hostess.
Alexis is from California and met Chris by chance when he was there on business. It was love at first sight and Alexis knew he would come back. And he was. A few years later, they married and lived in Mississippi. His parents soon followed.
“Don’t miss perfect California weather,” I asked him. “It’s like that every day there.” His response: “The weather is perfect, but the people of Mississippi even better.”
The next morning we were all fired up with the game – the first real test for Ole Miss. I was the declared optimist. I just knew tragic Ole Miss football was going to take a break.
The Grove was hopping, truly one of the great cultural stages in all of America. There is no such thing. Chris’ tent was under a grove of cucumber magnolias and it gave me great joy to learn about a new species (I’m a nut. One of the many geeky aspects of my personality.) We had a great visit with McComb’s Clifton Van Cleave
Ginny and I then split up for our own tent called “The Reverend Peter Johnson Club”. There’s an Ole Miss story behind it, of course, but I’ve forgotten about it for now. Kenny and Janet Ellis are the main organizers. I still see Barry and Elizabeth Crain. His daughter Ruth came with her Kappa friends and other young people.
It was the longest wait to get through the door. Everyone was talking about it. Then the ticket scanner rejects our barcode. I hate when that happens. We were trying to raise enough money to pay the scalper when an older man hands us free tickets. These too have not been scanned. Then Chris appears on the other side of the door and saves the day. He had texted us the wrong tickets. “Am I still your best friend,” he asked. I say, “Man, free tickets, free accommodation. Are you kidding me?”
What a game! A real nail biter from start to finish. Ole Miss fails to score in the final minutes from the four yard line. Then, incredible defensive play forces a fumble on Kentucky’s goal line with seconds to go. My only regret is that I couldn’t get a video of Chris celebrating. Amazing how grown adults can get so excited about football.
The large family of Kentucky fans seated next to us smiled graciously in defeat. “Wait for basketball season,” the father said. Everything was friendly and fun. The way it should be.
I looked over and saw Lee Paris and his family celebrating the victory. What a pleasure to share his joy. He’s a huge Ole Miss fan.
We met Ruth at Christ Pres for church on Sunday. I really wanted to go back for the final round of the Sanderson Golf Tournament, but I was so thankful that Ruth was going to church while in school that I dared not join her. Beautiful new church. Packed up. Great contemporary music. Great sermon. What a joy to live in the country of God.
Luckily, Ruth was happy not to go to brunch, having partied the night of the reunion. It was my exit! I could still make the final of the tournament.
It was surprisingly easy for Ginny to drop me off outside the Jackson Country Club. Within minutes, I was following Sepp Straka and Keegan Bradley. I chose a good duo. Straka made the playoffs at two.
I don’t know how many friends and acquaintances I saw on the course, many complimenting me on my Jackson water columns.
The course was magnificent. CCJ’s greens are considered on par with Augusta – a stunning achievement by the club. Kudos to Stanly Reedy, the course maintainer.
In the end, I was in the right place at the right time – one of the few fans standing beside the 18 tee when they quickly brought Straka and Mackenzie Hughes back for the playoff hole. The sun had set. I got a perfect view of their great rides.
It was late. I had no way back home when I sat down to enjoy my Sanderson Slam purchased at an oasis just south of fairway 18.
I look up and there is Paul Flood and his wife Loretta. We start talking about the good old days. We once hung out in New York. Of course, they took me home. “I knew you would have a ride,” Ginny said as I entered.
I checked my phone and there was a message from Chris to my golf group. “Wyatt had a hell of a weekend.” It was a close-up photo of me on TV smiling contentedly and watching a key putt.
I posted, embarrassingly using the word awesome four times.
Chris summed up the weekend: “If that’s the hardest part, imagine what heaven will be like.”