The Big Bake is over, ending with monsoon-like rains. Now Mississippi gets blessed with its handful of weeks of perfect weather. October and April are indeed blissful in Mississippi.
The average temperature of the whole year in Mississippi is 68 degrees. Unfortunately, there is a lot of variation going on to get to that average. That’s okay. I like change. I think I would get bored with the sameness of the perfect weather.
Going along with this perfect weather was a perfect weekend of sports and fellowship. My golfing buddy Chris Burkhalter and I met at the Oxford Country Club for a 1:30 p.m. tee time with two people we didn’t know.
I can say this: The Oxford Country Club was in outstanding condition. The greens were just about perfect. In fact, all the golf courses in Mississippi are in stellar conditions because of all the rain followed by the dry conditions.
We met Donnie and Paul, lifelong buddies in the anesthesiology business, and it didn’t take long for the jokes and conviviality to seep in. By the end of the round, we were like long-time buddies, high-fiving each other after good shots. 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 Kappa parents’ night at the Library. Man, those Kappa girls are cute! Dozens upon dozens of them.
I admit it was a little disappointing to realize The Library was a bar. I feel stupid for thinking all those credit card charges were for checking out schoolbooks.
Earlier in the day, Ginny and I bought steaks for six at Corner Market. Okay, I confess I had no idea how much meat prices had gone up. I will quit dog cussing’ restaurant steak prices.
David (DC) Carter and his wife Kathryn were joining us for steaks at the Burkhalters’ house in the Oxford Country Club area. DC was bringing his Himalayan Salt Block for the grilling process. Most impressive.
Ginny and I really lucked out this weekend. We normally stay right off the Oxford Square with the Dunagins — dear family friends forever. But their daughter Kathy was bringing her whole posse up for the Kentucky game.
When Chris told me he had room at his house, I texted him, “You are my new best friend!”
Ginny was nervous because she didn’t know my golfing buddies 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 randomly when he was there on business. It was love at first sight and Alexis just knew he would be back. And he was. A few years later, they were married and living in Mississippi. Her parents soon followed.
“Don’t you miss the perfect California weather,” I asked her. “It’s like this every day there.” Her answer: “The weather’s perfect, but the people in Mississippi even better.”
The next morning, we were all pumped up about the game — the first real test for Ole Miss. I was the declared optimist. I just knew Ole Miss tragedy football was gonna take a break.
The Grove was hopping, truly one of the great cultural scenes in all of America. There is just nothing like it. Chris’ tent was under a grove of cucumber magnolia trees and it gave me great joy to learn a new species (I’m a tree nut. One of many geeky aspects to my personality.) Had a great visit with Clifton Van Cleave from McComb
Ginny and I then parted for our own tent which is called “The Reverend Peter Johnson Club.” There’s an Ole Miss story behind it, of course, but I’ve forgotten it at the moment. Kenny and Janet Ellis are the main organizers. I always see Barry and Elizabeth Crain. Daughter Ruth came by with her Kappa friends as well as other young ‘uns.
It was the longest wait ever to get through the gate. Everybody was talking about it. Then the ticket scanner rejects our barcode. I hate when that happens. We were trying to scrape up enough cash to pay the scalper when an older man hands us free tickets. Those didn’t scan either. Then Chris appears on the other side of the gate and saves the day. He had texted us the wrong tickets. “Am I still your best friend,” he asked. I say, “Dude, free tickets, a free place to stay. Are you kidding me?”
What a game! A real nail biter start to finish. Ole Miss fails to score in the last few minutes from the four yard line. Then an amazing defensive play forces a Kentucky goal line fumble with seconds left. My only regret is that I failed to get a video of Chris celebrating. Amazing how grown adults can get so excited over football.
The large family of Kentucky fans, sitting next to us, smiled graciously in defeat. “Wait ‘til basketball season,” the Dad said. It was all friendly and fun. The way it should be.
I looked over and saw Lee Paris and his family celebrating the victory. What a treat 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 hightail it back for the Sanderson golf tournament final round, but I was so grateful Ruth is going to church while in college, I didn’t dare not join her. Beautiful new church building. Packed. Great contemporary music. Great sermon. What a joy to live in God’s country.
Mercifully, Ruth was happy not to go to brunch, having partied hardy on homecoming night. This was my out! I could still make the tournament finale.
It was surprisingly easy for Ginny to drop me off in front of the Country Club of Jackson. Within minutes I was following Sepp Straka and Keegan Bradley. I picked a good twosome. Straka made the two-man playoff.
No telling how many friends and acquaintances I saw on the course, many complimenting me on my Jackson water columns.
The course was magnificent. The CCJ greens are considered on par with Augusta — a mind blowing achievement of the club. Kudos to Stanly Reedy, the head of course maintenance.
In the end, I was in the right place at the right time — one of only a handful of fans standing next to the 18 tee box when they quickly carted Straka and Mackenzie Hughes back for the playoff hole. The sun had set. I got a perfect view of their stunning drives.
By now it was late. I had no ride home when I sat down to enjoy my Sanderson Slam purchased from an oasis just south of the 18 fairway.
I look up and there is Paul Flood and his wife Loretta. We start chatting about old times. We once hung out in New York City together. Of course, they drove me home. “I knew you’d get a ride,” Ginny said as I walked in.
I checked my phone and there was a post from Chris to my golf group. “Wyatt’s had quite a weekend.” It was a close up photo of me on TV smiling contentedly and watching a key putt.
I posted back, embarrassingly using the word awesome four times.
Chris summed up the weekend: “If this is the hard part, just imagine what heaven will be like.”