River can serve as a reminder

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The river — it’s all anyone is talking about right now in Natchez. I think most of us take it for granted, after all it’s been here forever and will be here when we are all gone. We use it to give directions to locals and tourists; we use it for entertainment (just look at the balloon festival and Fourth of July fireworks to name two).

When my husband passed away my family lived on Linton Avenue, I would walk over to the river in the evening and watch the sunset. I can remember being lost in thought watching the swirling current, wondering where it had been and who else had seen the same river I was watching.

My son Matthew would take his driver over to bluff and see how far he could hit a golf ball and I don’t think we have eaten dinner at Magnolia Grill without at least one person trying to throw a rock in the river.

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We forget the power that lurks in the Mississippi. Most of us in Natchez are very cavalier about the rising water, after all, we are higher up than a lot of places.

But the river affects us all when it slips up over its banks. Silver Street is lined with merchants who worry about making a living, the casino becomes concerned with closing and of course erosion is always a concern.

Last night the American Queen docked down at its usual place. The boat passengers came to the city auditorium last night at 8 p.m., found a seat and prepared to watch a show. They had no idea they were seeing something different than usual, more than different, a shift in thinking.

You see they had booked to come to Natchez after the regular Pageant had ended so they were scheduled to see Southern Road to Freedom. However, SRF performs at Holy Family Church and it doesn’t have enough room to accommodate the entire boat. So what to do?

Tell the Queen we’re sorry that after touring they can return to the boat for the evening? Fortunately for all involved, Margaret Hall of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours took a different approach and decided to bring two groups together who rarely encounter one another.

The pageant committee was called and asked if Southern Road to Freedom could perform in the auditorium since it would hold enough people. And, could performers from the Pageant be asked to perform one extra night.

So last night the passengers of the American Queen got to see both. And under one roof for just a little while there were performers in hoops and gowns along with African American dress. Did thunder roll and rumble or lightening strike? No, each group just simply came together and did what we do best here in Natchez, we entertained our visitors.

Maybe among all the current talk of politics, hospital problems, economic woes there is a lesson to be learned. Here in Natchez despite the naysayers there are people who believe that we can survive and thrive while cultivating tourism, as long as people are willing to work together.

Every so often the mighty Mississippi creeps over her banks and challenges us to think differently. We are reminded of her quiet power. And every once in awhile we are reminded of the quiet power we all have within ourselves to rise out of our banks and think differently.

Christina Hall can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.