Thursday, September 18, 2008
One Holly Springs restaurant owner said a hummingbird celebration every weekend would be nice.
That’s impossible, of course, and the businessperson knows that. The restaurant owner was simply expressing appreciation to the good folks at Strawberry Plains and their long list of volunteers who help make the three-day event happen.
The Hummingbird Migration Celebration just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
This year more than 8,500 attended and participated in the wide array of activities, and the city was buzzing with tourists. They ate at our restaurants and filled up their vehicles with gas at our stations.
Money was flowing. Tourism is big business. And Holly Springs is filled with attractions. Another example that week – a couple from St. Louis stopped by the newspaper office and said Graceland, Too, was the “best $5 they’d ever spent.”
Good friend Rubye Del Harden surprised me with a telephone call Saturday afternoon of hummingbird celebration weekend. She and her fiance´ and friends had ridden their motorcycles from Tupelo to Strawberry Plains to see the hummingbirds. They were then dining at a Holly Springs restaurant.
I had gone to the post office earlier that morning and saw a steady stream of cars heading north on Highway 7 to reach Highway 311 en route to the Audubon Center.
Pam and I attended Audubon Under the Stars, which kicked off the hummingbird celebration. We had a great time – seeing lots of friends, including out-of-town guests, too.
The fellowship was fabulous. The weather was good. The fish, prepared by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson and crew, was great.
We did have to leave a bit early to pick up our two youngest children who were attending a junior high football game.
Pam laughed at the early-departure adventure.
That’s because our car, like most of the others, was parked in a field located a good distance through the woods.
On our way in, while still daylight, some people chose to walk a trail to Strawberry Plains. We hitched a ride on one of the golf carts, courtesy of center director Bubba Hubbard.
I thought I’d try to the trail when we left. But as I quickly realized, it was impossible without a flashlight.
Pam said, “Try your cell phone.”
Not enough light.
I flashed the flash on my camera a few times.
Not enough light.
Pam, needless to say, was getting a bit nervous about our little adventure.
It reminded me of some of those camping trips in the backwoods of Marion County, Ala., particularly that time I thought for sure I heard a mountain lion.
Instead, this time around, I went in search of Bubba, and he was nice enough to give us a ride back to our cars – before the rest of the crowd departed.
This hummingbird celebration is nothing short of amazing – thousands of people turning out to experience nature and get a close-up view of these tiny birds, with wingbeats up to about 70 per second and heart rates of about 1,260 beats per minute.
But then when I think about it, folks don’t experience nature much anymore, like those camping trips I enjoyed growing up.
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center is one of Mississippi’s finest natural and historic treasures – with more than 200 species of birds, extensive gardens of native plants, and the antebellum Davis House. The center encompasses 2,500 acres of diverse wildlife habitat and has 15 miles of walking trails for exploring our forests, fields and wetlands.
Ruth Finley, one of two sisters who willed the property to the National Audubon Society, desired Strawberry Plains “to be a wildlife sanctuary in the truest sense of the word.”
I think she would be pleased – what a tremendous asset this is for our city and county and state.
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