Don and Becky Potts' backyard would be noticeable even without the horse. Behind their Fondren home, the couple maintains an elaborate garden and two greenhouses. Somehow, they also have room for Little River, their 7-year-old miniature horse.
A gift for their youngest daughter, the sweet-tempered horse draws affection from neighborhood residents, although Don says she's not always so well behaved.
"This used to be some real nice-looking lettuce," he says, pointing to a sorry patch in the garden. "You gotta watch that horse."
Don and Becky, both 60, are used to far greater natural challenges than a hungry horse. For seven years they lived without electricity, in a vertical log cabin on 10 acres near Brandon. Their second child was even born at home, in the dark. Their eldest daughter, at 2 and a half, "was right in the middle with a flashlight, helping the midwife," Don recalls.
After the birth of their third child, though, Becky decided they needed electricity to handle laundry for a family of five. The family ended up in Fondren, because Don's real estate work was picking up.
That move was a true homecoming for Don. He grew up six blocks from their current house and attended kindergarten in what is now their garage. He and Becky, who grew up in Oxford, graduated from Ole Miss the same year but didn't meet until they were living in Jackson after graduation.
True to their do-it-yourself ethic, Becky homeschooled their children from birth through high school. A former speech and theater teacher at Jackson State, she runs the Ann Minor French-American Exchange, a program for area high school students.
The two haven't compromised their environmental ideals in the city. They helped found the Rainbow Co-op, back when it was a 20-person buying club, in 1980. They were the first chefs at the High Noon Café, although their tenure was short. "We lasted three months," Becky says. "We didn't have a kitchen! We had a hot plate and a crock-pot!" Don adds.
An agent with Nix-Tann Real Estate, Don is committed to the development and environmental health of his hometown. He helped establish Fondren as a historic district and serves on the Jackson Sierra Club chapter's executive committee. He is optimistic about the long-overdue development going on now. "Being slow lets other people make the mistakes, and then you can learn," he says. "I think it'll be done right."
Becky shares his outlook. "We don't have all the factories and pollutants and traffic," she points out. "Small is beautiful."
I saw this morning on my walk that Little River died Monday. I cried all the way back home. Rest in peace, wonderful little creature.
Aw, I am so sad to hear this! Rest in Peace Little River!