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Adele Elliott: Welcome, pilgrims


Adele Elliott



Thank heavens, spring is finally here! This winter will go down in history as one of the most brutal ever. In the Golden Triangle, we had a much easier experience than in other parts of the country. Here, there were no blizzards; massive, icy traffic jams; or loss of power. But, lordy, it was cold. 


Now, our area welcomes the robins and azaleas -- and especially pilgrims from all over the globe. Warmer temps give us a chance to peel off those copious layers of clothing and soak up the delightful vitamin D. Many of us are thrilled to replace bulky sweaters with period dresses, bonnets and hoop skirts. Welcoming tourists is one of our favorite things to do. 


Pilgrims often have the sense that they have stepped into a time warp. The year may be 2014, but that is only a number on the calendar. We embrace our Byzantine past with pleasure. That pride means that some of us have been pulled, kicking and screaming, into a more modern world. Some parts of town seem like the mid-1800s, while some others appear to have made it all the way to the 1970s or '80s. Time is fluid in this part of Mississippi. Be warned, you could drown in it. 


There comes a point when all the homes from the exact same era melt into mush in your brain. Hostesses' spiels about Belter furniture, heavy sterling silver and arcane collections can eventually become indistinguishable. By the end of the day, a visitor just might be so confused by names like Rosewood and Rosedale, Camilla Place and Azalea Place, they may long for identities that are less similar. Perhaps the owners of historic homes might consider labels like stinkweed or bramble bush. This might make it easier to tell them apart. 


Columbus is filled with mystery. We have ghosts and secrets. Look closely for the ghosts; they are all around us. The secrets, well, they are not usually really hush-hush. Everyone knows each other's business. However, it is considered rude to discuss unpleasant things, so, we just pretend that they are undisclosed. It also matters if the subject of gossip is a dear friend or a "frien-emy." (Columbus is nicknamed "the Friendly City." We are Christian and love everyone; therefore, we have no actual enemies.) We meticulously protect people we like. Confused yet? Do not worry. We all are. 


No one tells you how exceptionally safe this area is. There is virtually no crime. Some locals mention tagging as proof of crime. But, really, those from big cities will find this laughable. In my neighborhood, there is a bit of graffiti in the shape of a cross. I suppose the vandal was fighting an internal and profound battle with his psyche. Was he a bad boy, or a child of Christ? We will never know. 


Besides historic homes, we have wonderful barbecue, the best blues in the world, and a sincere warmth that radiates from the heart. While you are out and about, pick up a brochure for the Tennessee Williams Tribute in September. It will give you a reason to return to a truly remarkable place. We hope to see you then.


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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