Windsor Ruins
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Encountering the Past
Windsor Ruins are iconic. They've been co-opted by Hollywood, photographed repeatedly by professionals including Eudora Welty. Though I have lived in Mississippi most of my life, I had never seen them. Last summer, I grabbed my camera and set out. It was an adventure to find Windsor. The beginning was easy enough, legendary Highway 61 south to Port Gibson. At that point, though, anything remotely like the beaten path disappeared. Winding rural roads curved into a landscape dominated by huge old trees and scattered Civil War battle sites. The past reached out a verdant hand and engulfed me. About the time I decided I MUST have taken a wrong turn somewhere, the simple brown sign for Windsor appeared. A short drive down a curving unpaved road, and suddenly, there it was. What was once cultivated and clear cut has been reclaimed by the Mississippi forests until only a small clearing remains. I walked the path around the columns taking pictures and imagining what the house that had stood there, the house Mark Twain watched the river from, had once looked like. Only one rough sketch and the tattered iron lace between the columns give any clues. These fractured but still graceful columns have withstood time, ages of curiosity-seekers, and even Katrina. Their tenacious endurance is no small part of their beauty. I finally lowered my camera and sat beneath one of the large trees nearby and simply admired, hoping to absorb some of that strength for myself.
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