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Then all hell broke loose! I stuck my elbow into a Fire Ant nest, and within two seconds it felt like there was a strong electric current running through my elbow. I leaped up, frantically brushing ants from my arm and dancing on the roadside.

The Mississippi delta is a legendary part of America. The dark nights of lynchings and burning crosses; the gothic complexity of Faulkner’s stories; the tragic legacy of plantations and slavery; the sweet smell of wisteria on a spring evening …