Rita Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rita Howell

Senses overloaded with local culture

Sensory overload. That’s the condition from which I suffered last weekend. It was the result of a very busy few weeks. Weddings three Saturdays in a row had prompted the onset of S.O.

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Whose senses wouldn’t be overloaded? Beautiful brides. Enough flowers to stage our own Rose Parade right here in Panola County. Arrays of fancy foods and beverages sufficient to fill photo spreads in Martha Stewart’s magazine for the next year. Ice sculptures. Jazz bands. Sushi. Fireworks.

Not to mention laughing and talking with friends you haven’t seen in a while.

When I’m afflicted with S.O., I just can’t sleep afterward. I keep remembering interesting things I’ve seen and heard at the event that triggered it.

I had about gotten back to normal when John Howell interviewed the albino raccoon last Monday. Did you see it on our front page? Poor critter had more stimulation than it wanted and was released right after the photo session. And then we heard this ‘coon had been trapped in Batesville a year ago and released in the country, about where she wandered into that trap last week.

I thought about that for a while, wondering how Ms. Coon was dealing with her own case of S.O.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Then I talked with Alicia Joiner, a young Batesville woman who is interning with NASCAR in Daytona, Fla., this summer. And she’s already met Dale Jr.

Then I attended a reception last Friday hosted by The Panolian and several other local businesses to honor “our” NFL football players. About 200 people came to collect autographs have pictures taken with Jamarca Sanford, John Jerry and Michael Oher. OK, so Michael Oher isn’t really from Panola County, but he’s been here visiting the Sanfords and the Jerrys enough that we claim him.

There I was breathing the same air as a Baltimore Raven, a Miami Dolphin and a Minnesota Viking.

Enough, enough. I needed to go home and contemplate space.

And then, on Saturday night I went to Panola Playhouse to see The Sound of Music.

If I’d spent the entire evening with my eyes closed, it would have been exhilarating enough just listening to the talented vocalists assembled for that challenging production.

Young Hollie Hinton blew me away in her role as the Mother Abbess, singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

Thank goodness I opened my eyes. The sets were magnificent, especially for the scenes inside the Von Trapp villa. An elegant staircase played a starring role. I’m curious as to how they managed to change from villa to bedroom to abbey and back again so quickly.

Playhouse executive director Vic Henson and his wife Robin deserve congratulations for directing, producing, choreographing, and designing such a polished and memorable play.

And they get credit for my lingering case of sensory overload.