June 20, 2010 2:30:00 AM
I''ve got this place where I like to go to ponder. Some of you might have one, too. It''s not so much that we need a special place for pondering; some places are just better suited for it than others.
My place is "The Asphalt" -- not necessarily a name that conjures up an image of a tranquil setting conducive for contemplating one''s place in the universe.
"The Asphalt" spans a few hundred yards along the bank of the Mississippi River up and over the levee from Mayersville.
Way before my time the U.S. Corps of Engineers laid rip rap, then asphalted over a four-acre or so section of river bank to protect the levee from erosion caused by the swift waters of the Mississippi.
When the water level is just right, it''s the best place that I know to go to dip your toes into the most powerful river in the United States (but be careful!).
If you''re ever over that way it''s real easy to find. Mayersville is halfway, give or take a few miles, between Greenville and Vicksburg. There are only two ways to get there -- in a boat or via The Great River Road, Mississippi Highway Number One, the one Miss Eden Brent sings about.
Turn off the highway and proceed through downtown Mayersville toward the river. You''ll see the Issaquena County Courthouse on the right. When you get to the levee (you can''t miss it), cross on over the cattle gap, veer at a 45 degree angle up the side of the levee, then proceed down on the other side. I caution you here, if the river''s up on the levee, stop!
You''ll come upon a stretch of high ground that overlooks the river''s lower bank. From this vantage point you have an 8-mile view of the Father of Waters that only Mark Twain could describe.
That little stretch of river bank, "The Asphalt," has provided folks a place for building a thousand bonfires, roasting a million wienies and marshmallows, drinking a kazillion beers, wasting thousands of rounds of ammunition, proposing marriage, pretending to propose marriage -- and, well, we won''t go there.
I go over every time that I visit Mama in Rolling Fork. Issaquena County and visitors take extra care to keep it clean. I might spend 10 minutes or an hour, still I never miss making the 12-mile drive. Sometimes I''ll waste a box of bullets shooting my pistol at nothing, watch a tow boat from bend to bend or watch the sun go down over Louisiana; however, most times I find a comfortable log that''s washed up, sit and ponder. More often than not, I never see a soul. Pondering alone up next to the Mississippi River is a humbling experience.
I can''t imagine not having "The Asphalt." When a news channel runs a segment on what I categorize as a horror movie, akin to the ''50s "The Blob," about the oil well gone nuts down in the Gulf, I quickly change the channel. I can''t watch it. I cringe at the thought of something like that happening on my river bank. This ongoing fiasco is ruining thousands of pondering places.
If you are one our unfortunate neighbors down on the coast who has lost your special pondering place for a time, I might be able to help. See, I''ve got this place over on the Mississippi River, just over the levee from Mayersville ...
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.