Last week Harold and I went down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to celebrate my mother-in-law's 98th birthday. It was a mighty time. Everyone in town offered her sweets and birthday cakes, even the McDonald's where she plays Bingo every Tuesday, sticking a candle in a box of cinnamon thingies and getting her to blow it out. Neither of us won at Bingo. Another lady kept winning.
I took some pictures while we were down there. The pictures of my mother-in-law's birthday party didn't work out. I was pushing the little camera's ability to photograph things in low light too far beyond its capacity and they all turned out blurry. Other pictures I took last week were sort of charming. I wanted you to see this shot of Harold standing in the entrance to Sharkheads, an iconic palace of souvenir ticky-tacky looking out over the water.
The old Sharkheads, the one that blew away in Katrina, also had a huge plastic shark head as a front entrance. Some fisherman came upon it out in the Gulf, a yawning cavern of teeth. It must have given him quite a thrill. The old Sharkheads wasn't up on stilts. Most of the new construction in Biloxi is up on stilts, in hopes that the next big one won't generate a storm surge high enough to destroy it all this time.
If you have that kind of optimism, and you don't mind paying a fortune in flood insurance, there are many empty lots facing across Route 90 to the beach, bare slabs surrounded by ancient live oak trees, begging you to come down and build on them. You'll have to put your mansion up on stilts, but hey. It's a small price to pay to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
© 2014 Kate Gallison