Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deer Creek

Like most of us that take pictures in the Delta, I have my favorite spots that I return to every chance I get.

Deer Creek in Anguilla is one of these spots. For those not familiar with Deer Creek, it winds its way throughout the Mississippi Delta, from the Mississippi River in Washington County to the Yazoo River in Warren County. Its banks are full of history. It was the home to an agriculturally based, prehistoric Indian culture as early as 1200 A.D. Plantations dotted its banks in some of the richest alluvial soil in the Delta. Jim Henson played on its banks in Leland, MS with his friend Kermit Scott and he shared these moments with the world through the original Muppet, Kermit.

For about a year, I have visited Deer Creek, and I have, indeed, fallen in love.

An overcast day changes the light in just a way that allows an otherwise pedestrian, some would even say ugly, culvert to look like a bridge in a Monet painting.  
Standing in just the right spot, a view down the creek rivals the best landscape scenes anywhere.

Ducks splashing, and showing off for potential mates, give way to lazy ones resting on a log on a hot and muggy September morning looking for a chance to cool off in the creek.

Turtles are often seen trying to stay on a log that just keeps rolling and finally making it to bask in the sun to replenish the calcium needed to keep a hard shell of protection.

When I close my eyes. I can imagine baptisms in the creek, at a spot marked by crosses just across from Anguilla Methodist Church,

As usual, I post my Deer Creek shots on my facebook page. They are some of the most "liked" pictures. A friend of mine summed it up completely for me when she shared a recent picture I took on the shores of Deer Creek, "I think that many times we become so used to seeing things in our own community day after day , that we fail to notice the real beauty that visitors recognize & are drawn to." 

Deer Creek is, indeed, one of those special places. Check it out some time!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Settling In

Well, I bit the bullet...I bought my little place (yes, very little) in the Delta. It took all of 2 minutes to sign the papers; even less than my 5 minute Methodist wedding!

It took a lot longer to get ready to buy the BottleTree. Figuring out how to buy a house without a realtor; having the inspection; getting estimates on repairs; finding a closing attorney; scheduling a time we could all be in town to sign the papers. Somehow, it was a little anti-climatic. Wham, bam, thank you mam! kind of stuff! But, the reason it was so easy, is that it was so right.

I had a whole year to figure out if being part of the Delta was something I wanted. And, I knew it was. During that year I made friends; figured out some of the practical stuff, like when the stores were open; learned the idiosyncracies of my cottage; and shared great times with family and new friends.

But, I still have a lot to learn:

"High Corn" near Sidon, MS
Corn can be both a blessing and a curse. It's great as a privacy screen. But blocks the breeze which can make it stifling hot!

Harvest season will last a long time this year. I can't remember when I have seen "corn as high as an elephant's eye" at the same time that I see it barely up to my knees (and I am short!). Same for soy beans and cotton, although they never get as tall as corn. A rainy early spring and a dry late spring will make work for farmers way into the fall.

Melissa Darden (L) & Meg Cooper (R) of the Lower Delta Partnership
Living in a small town means you do it all. I compare this to running a small business. You are the boss, the payroll clerk, the webmaster, and the office manager. Same in a small town...You are the one in charge of the demolition and salvage of an historical landmark; organizing and managing the electronic recycling event for the county; being on the Board for the local hospital. Same people, doing all the work with a smile on their face and a dedication that is so refreshing!

Stuff costs more in rural MS. I bought two pounds of coffee, 6 eggs, and a loaf of bread for $17.00! I don't know, maybe it's not more expensive than Memphis, but it sure seemed that way.

Sunday radio is a great mixture of country music and Bible lessons.

I've only been part of this place for about 18 months, but it is, indeed, becoming home for me. I've traded the solitary weekends for times full of visits with family and friends; birthday dinners; volunteering at festivals and plays. I've joked that I have more friends and things to do in Rolling Fork than I do in Memphis! I guess that says it all!

The Big Red Barn collapsed in April 2011. Meg and Melissa worked to save as much of the barn as possible. It was, indeed, the very symbol of Rolling Fork, being that landmark that just spelled "home" for those coming back from Jackson or Vicksburg. You can own a piece of this landmark and support the Lower Delta Partnership. More information will be available soon at

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roundtrip Between the Delta and Bern

No, I haven't gone to Bern, Switzerland. Well, not yet at least. But the Delta has gone to Bern and Bern has come to the Delta.

The traveler was my Daddy, Dr. Jefferson Davis Upshaw, Jr, and the great work he did to understand what became known as Upshaw-Schulman Syndrome. You can read the details here, but it is a form of inherited thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Jefferson Davis Upshaw, Jr at Gulf Coast Military Academy
Daddy was born in Louise, MS, in Humphreys County, MS on July 19, 1929 - a mere two years after the Great Flood of 1927. He attended elementary school in Louise and then junior high and high school at Gulf Coast Military Academy in Gulfport, MS.

He was nominated to attend West Point Military Academy, but chose (ha ha) The University of Alabama (Roll Tide) where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He then graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School where he also completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine.

After serving in the Air Force in Bermuda (what a tough life) he and my Mother moved to Memphis where he practiced internal medicine and hematology for 40+ years. He served as both Chief and President of the Medical Staff as well as Director of Medical Education for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in Memphis. He was there when Elvis died!

Now, you are saying, where does Bern, Switzerland come in? Well, Daddy, himself, never went to Bern. But Daddy's work did!

I was actually sitting in my cottage in Rolling Fork, MS in early March 2012, just about 20 miles from Daddy's birthplace and home in Louise, MS, when I got an email from Bern, Switzerland. A little (or a lot) skeptical, I did not respond. But Bern was persistent. Later that month, they reached out again:
"Dear Ms Upshaw Travis

We at the Inselpital Bern (Switzerland) in the University Clinic of Hematology and Central Hematology are building an international database for patients with Upshaw-Schulman Syndrom. The disease is named after Jefferson D. Upshaw, Jr.  (last known affiliation: The Memphis Cancer Center, Memphis, Tennessee 38119, USA), who we believe was your father;  and Irving Schulman.

The research database has an official Website ( for patients, doctors and interested parties. 

One of our goals is to provide patients with usable background information about their disease including a historical note on the people after whom the syndrome was named. 

An article about Mr. Schulman that we hope to be able to use already exists ( ) but we are lacking information about Mr. Upshaw.
We thought that perhaps you could help us out in this direction.

PS: Maybe you would allow us to establish a link for your blog “deltamemories” which we like very much. "

Could I tell them more about Daddy? Did I have a picture? Could they link to my blog (the one you are reading) as they found it interesting (LOL)?

Jefferson Davis Upshaw, Jr
Well, they had me then. I sent them a copy of Daddy's obituary and then a "good" picture of Daddy as the one in the obit was horrible and then, of course, welcomed them to link to this blog!

Perhaps some of the Bern guys are reading this blog post, so I want to say: Thank you so much for carrying on Daddy's work! He was a practicing physician - not a researcher! But he always understood his responsibility to pass along what he was learning. He also understood his responsibility to advance the knowledge of how to help patients and help physicians help patients. He was proud that his work was notable, but he was moved more by the difference it made in the lives of patients that got better because of what he learned. And, if you want me to come and present at a conference on Daddy's work, let me know! I imagine I can find the time....

I think I kept many of his papers documenting his experience and findings with Upshaw-Schulman Syndrome. They are some where up in my attic. I just couldn't throw them out knowing how much they meant to him and to others.

Me and Daddy, April 24, 1982
Daddy's work made its way to Bern and now many of them are learning about the Delta, the land and people that helped raise the man whose work and name is making their work possible, through this blog.

Who would have thought that a man, born in the Delta, educated in what many would call the "Deep South", and serving patients, not a researcher, would some day be sought after by Bern, Switzerland?

Well, if you know the Delta the way I do, this is not surprising at all!