At the end of July, three generations of Birdsong women descended on Oxford, Mississippi. I was giving a paper at the annual Faulkner conference and meeting with some of my digital humanities colleagues. Mom was driving down (!) from Iowa, as she’s done before, simply because she really enjoys visiting the town. There are three bookstores on the courthouse square downtown and lots of fun restaurants, as well as beautiful old homes. And Mom asked that I bring Katherine with me this year; she promised that she’d be in charge of childcare so that I could attend to the academic things day and night.
We had a great time! It was a very successful conference for me, Katherine had fun getting to hang out with adults, swim in the hotel pool, and travel to new places, and Mom got both a vacation in a fun place and time with her granddaughter (and, occasionally, me).
We visited the bookstore for children/young adults first, which meant that Katherine was occupied for the rest of the day. In this picture, she’s inhaling the last few pages of the first book of The Secret Benedict Society, which she had gotten only the previous day. I was grateful; with such a book-inclined travel partner, I got a lot of academic work done on our flights home the next day, and she was a very easygoing travel buddy–as long as her book was handy.
Katherine and Mom agreed to accompany me on a walk through the woods around Faulkner’s home, and then on a visit inside. Katherine really liked the house and grounds; she reads a lot of “old” books, but hasn’t been in many buildings that date from earlier eras.
Faulkner bought his home from a plantation owner who built the house in 1848 (the same year as the founding of Ole Miss, with which he was associated). Faulkner only got three acres in the original sale, but whenever he could scrounge up money over the years, he bought more and more land as a buffer between his home and “the town.” By the time he died, he had a moderately grand home and nearly forty acres of woods and fields.