While walking through the "Avenues" this winter in Hattiesburg, Miss., it is possible to see, and meet, a variety of interesting circumstances and individuals. Musicians making genre-specific noises (some pleasant, others not so), artists using their yards as a form of expression, college-student-fervor-a-buzz, hints of the downtown historic area seen in random cobblestone streets with multicolored dressed people bicycling on them, closed snowcone stands, strolling dogs with masters in tow and talking squirrels are a few things that make up the eclectic area.
Recently, a new addition to the downtown landscape has given the residents a reason to smile. I first noticed the green and brown cans, after eavesdropping on two squirrels who were commenting on how clean all the neighborhood yards had become as of late, while snapping a few photographs for what I assume is the squirrel version of neighborhood watch. "It seems the humanimals have finally got it together," squeaked the smaller, furrier squirrel to a larger, skinnier comrade. "I believe that Katrina trash goes in the brown cans and humanimal trash goes in the green ones."
In a place so affected by one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, Hurricane Katrina is still the topic of conversation, and reminders of her moody affection still exists in the Mother Nature's peripherals. "The new cans make it easier for the monsters to pick them up and swallow the insides," continued the smaller squirrel and I can only assert an assumption of garbage trucks and their weekly appetite here.
As I slowly moved away from the squirrel tête-à-tête, I noticed an interesting kid walking through one of the wooded alleys and quickly grabbed my camera for a photo. I asked him to pose beside the green and brown cans and asked what he knew of them. "They're green cans and brown cans, man!"
As I continued my "Avenues" walk, I stumbled upon further evidence of Hattiesburg's efforts to maintain a clean winter panorama and a warm smile rewards a southern intention of which even the squirrels take notice.
Photos: Judson Vance