When it comes to bookstores, we all have our favorites. Some folks like small and cozy. Some folks like bright and airy. Some want chairs and tables for group chatting. Some want soft curl-up-by-yourself chairs. Some want a full menu of coffee, tea and munchables. Some think cups and crumbs should be banned. But no matter what your bookstore preferences, you can’t help falling in love with Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. This is the mecca of book lovers everywhere. For more than 30 years, Square Books is where you go for that quintessential bookstore experience. It’s where unknown indies and multi-million bestsellers mingle happily. It’s where you can find the titles everybody’s talking about and the ones nobody’s even noticed … yet. It’s where you can blow the budget on rare editions or fill your basket with bargains Plus, the folks at Square Books so kindly painted their stairs with practically all of my favorite things — except for “Survivor,” chocolate-covered cream-filled doughnuts and (this week) LSU. Geaux, Tigers!
Here down South, we’ve been doing a lot of un-Southerly things lately. Like trying to figure out how to get 6 inches of snow off our cars. (“Do you have an ice scraper, by any chance? You know, it looks like a little squeegee thing.”) Trying to dress for 20-degree weather. (Layers.) And watching hockey games in real live person. Well, OK, it’s true that you can watch hockey throughout the South almost anytime during the winter, but the threat of snow and ice outside seems to add to the authentic hockey experience. A couple of nights ago, Dear Husband and I watched a hockey game in Tupelo, Mississippi, between Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University — schools better known, admittedly, for football than hockey. The teams were club teams, not NCAA-sanctioned, but the young men on the ice had all the heart of top NCAA athletes. Maybe more. There was no glory. No TV cameras. No big fat checks. (In fact, the games were fundraisers for the hockey programs.) But there was an enthusiastic crowd and plenty of MSU cowbells. And to readers still puzzled by the idea of ice hockey in the South: Arenas and coliseums, such as the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, turn their floors into ice rinks during the winter for hockey and public ice skating. Sadly, though, Bancorp South had to cancel its ice-skaing sessions this past weekend … because of, you know, snow and ice.
1) Go to Jack-O-Lantern Farms market on the TVA reservation in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and buy some more fresh and delicious Honeycrisp Apples (the two less shiny-red apples in the photo). Honeycrisp apples are exactly as described — like taking a crisp and juicy bite of honey. They’re only available right now, so eat up. Check out the market at http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/. It’s open today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2) Watch the Alabama/LSU game on TV today. It makes me remember the night my husband and I accidentally stayed in the same hotel with the Tiger Pimp Nation. It was scary — literally. The Tiger Pimp Nation is made up of … well, intensely enthusiastic LSU fans who adopt these sort of characters, complete with clothes, jewelry, cars and women. The setup is so elaborate that they only travel to one away game a season. John and I encountered them in Memphis this past year after the Ole Miss/LSU game in Oxford. So, imagine rabid LSU fans combined with Beale Street. It was quite an experience. Not easily forgotten, although we have tried. Desperately. Check out the Pimp Nation at www.tigerpimpnation.com. And believe me, what you see there is real.