Memory of Misssissippi beaches

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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Palm fronds gently rustle in the breeze while songbirds fill the cool morning air with their lovely chorus as I sip my morning coffee on the porch of St. George Cottage. This lovely quiet sanctuary is nestled among other historic homes on my beloved Mississippi Gulf Coast and will be my home away from home for the next week. I thought check in was earlier than it was yesterday, but was glad my friends, Wayne and Marilyn, weren’t too upset to see me arriving early!

Driving to the Bay yesterday and seeing the many changes that have taken place in the years since Hurricane Katrina made my heart sing. Those who didn’t have first hand knowledge of the ravages of that horrific storm would never imagine that a few short years ago the coast of Mississippi took a direct hit from the monster storm and was decimated.

The national media gave very little coverage to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and many think the eye of the storm hit New Orleans, but not so. New Orleans’ levy system failed, but the eye of the storm with its driving winds and punishing waves barreled into Mississippi Sound on that fateful night in August of 2005, and swept a path of deep destruction.

Yesterday, the streets were filled with throngs of people milling about the shops and restaurants lining the beach. I saw many friendly faces, and was happy to run into Pam and her crew from Poplarville who were down for the weekend. It’s always fun to run into friends.

This area is especially dear to me because my late husband, Glen R., and I brought our little family to Buccaneer State Park camping for weeks every summer. So many of our happy memories include biking, eating delicious seafood fresh from the gulf waters, and bumming along the beautiful, sleepy shores. We crabbed, sunned and swam at the wave pool, and fished to our hearts content, but mostly we relished living in the moment and instinctively knew the days of our little brood’s childhood and their tinkling laughter were fleeting at best. We captured those precious moments, and I still hold them close to my chest.

A while after Katrina blew through, the roads were cleared enough to make it to the Coast, and I longed to see Bay St. Louis and Waveland. I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when the beach road was not only impassible; it was gone. And the lovely old homes on the beach were nonexistent or almost completely destroyed. I cried when I saw it, and wondered how and if this wonderful place would ever recover.

When I saw it yesterday, I was so proud of the great people of Mississippi. They are a hardy lot, and with hard work and determination the Coast has come back stronger and more beautiful than ever. Mississippians are mostly God-fearing folk and give God the credit for bringing them through the hard times.

I’ll be entertaining friends and family from the area on my little vacation, and like Dorothy with her ruby red slippers softly whisper to myself, There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at