Birney Imes: Spring arrives

March 22, 2014 8:38:25 PM

Birney Imes - [email protected]


Kenny Lang, who pedals his bicycle around Southside relentlessly and who could do voice-overs for Disney's "Song of the South," was watering his garden on Thursday, the first day of spring. Kenny is cultivating a sliver of earth near the intersection of South Fifth Street and 16th Avenue. He was using two plastic soft drink bottles to sprinkle his Georgia collards, kale and onions.  


Kenny, who was a guerrilla gardener long before it was hip, said he is growing watermelon in his other garden on South Second Street near the railroad tracks below Wil and Dorothy Colom's house. 


Long ago, when we used film in cameras, I ran into Kenny's brother, Leroy "Brother Lang." He was walking down Main Street carrying a croaker sack with a live possum in it. Brother Lang -- I can't speak for the possum -- was happy to pose for a picture with his "catch." Brother Lang reminded me recently that the picture ran on the front page of the paper. 


That was the first and only time I'd run into someone carrying a possum in a sack. This being Possum Town, seems like it would happen more often. 


With all the Bradford pears in bloom, one couldn't be blamed for thinking he was living inside a snow globe. They're everywhere. Let me put in a good word for the more subtle and more beautiful redbuds, also blooming now. The tree, with its fuchsia bloom, is native to this part of the world. 


"They taste like raw peanuts," a guest was telling Felder Rushing on his radio show Saturday morning a week ago -- they were talking about the redbud's buds -- "you can put them on salads." 


Motorists cruising the prairie will notice low-lying purple clouds floating over uncultivated fields. That's henbit, Jim Taylor tells me. When it heats up, it will disappear, but for now the purple is everywhere. Jim, a retired MSU research associate, lives in Brooksville with his wife, Vera. Both are stalwarts in the Friends of Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, an organization worthy of your consideration ( 


And, says the Internet, henbit is of the mint family and is eatable, too. Young leaves, cooked or raw, can be added to salads or used as a potherb. 


Walking through Southside Friday evening I was struck by the number of front porches bedecked with strands of white lights. Makes for a festive look. Adele Elliott and Chris Hannon's fa├žade looks like a movie set. Would not have been surprised had a foursome with British (or Cajun) accents walked out their front door, drinks in hand, and sat down to a game of canasta (or Boo-Ray). 


A block farther young voices came wafting over a backyard fence. Wicker chairs on a front porch across from Mother Goose's are lit with blue lights. Todd Gale even has a string of white lights atop the Light and Water building. Not an empty parking place between the Princess and Main. 


Big week ahead. Catfish on the Alley celebration on Saturday. There will be bands, a catfish cooking contest and general merriment. 


On Friday afternoon MUW will celebrate the career and work of longtime art professor Larry Feeney with an opening at the Eugenia Summer Gallery at the school's art department. Jan Swoope wrote a profile of the much loved art teacher two Sundays ago. Here's a fellow who virtually all his life created beauty with the most basic of tools: pencil, paper and patience. Simple as that. There is something timeless about Larry's work; a century from now his best drawings will look as fresh as they do today. 


I especially like the portraits; some are simply graphite on paper, others he's faintly colored with pastels and colored pencils. Often the portraits are people who have passed through Larry's life, a visual autobiography of sorts. 


Several of the portraits depict Larry's dad, Bob Feeney. He was a newspaper man, a columnist for the Democrat and Leader in Davenport, Iowa, on the Mississippi River where Larry grew up. 


Alums will be flooding the campus this weekend for homecoming. I hope some of them (along with folks in the community) will avail themselves of this one-time opportunity to purchase Larry's work. Half of the proceeds will go to an endowment he and his daughters, Katherine Munson and Elizabeth Richardson, have set up to fund exhibitions and workshops at The W. 


Birney Imes is the publisher of The Dispatch. Email him at [email protected]

Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.