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The Delta

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William Faulkner, Sanctuary

That Delta. Five thousand square miles, without any hill save the bumps of dirt the Indians made to stand on when the River overflowed.

“That Delta” is not in fact a delta at all; technically it’s an alluvial flood plain, a couple of hundred miles short of the mouth of the Mississippi. The name stems from its resemblance to the fertile delta of the Nile (which also began at a city named Memphis); the extravagant meanderings of the river on its way to Vicksburg deposit enough rich topsoil to make this one of the world’s finest cotton-producing regions.

The Delta is a land of scorching sun, parched earth, flooding creeks and thickets of bone-dry evergreens, best seen at dawn or dusk, when the glassy-smooth Mississippi reflects the sun and the foliage along the banks. Though the main thoroughfare south is the legendary Hwy-61, exploring is best on the backroads, characterized by huge, silent empty views interrupted only by roadside shacks, tiny churches and the sound of the blues.