Back in the Day

_C1_4250The breeze was warm and the gold of sunset glowed through swirls of gossamer cloud in the west when the first cars arrived. Soon the drive-in theater’s driveway  was strung with a half-mile of vehicles. Pink tinged the deepening blue in the east as tires quietly crunched gravel.

Nearby, headlights beamed in every direction as their cars criss-crossed the parking lot. Kids darted and laughed between them. Older couples stayed in their cars, and a man with a security vest patrolled wordlessly. Sunset deepened to dusk. Cars’ insides swelled with the sounds of fighters struggling and helicarriers exploding. Outside the windows it was quiet.

The sky was black when the credits ended. A cheery ’50s-style jitterbug played from speakers as the headlight beams returned. The manager reminded everyone to buy candy at the concession stand, and slanted spikes in the ground reminded everyone re-entry was not permitted.

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_C1_4371Water tumbled over the dam, a 30-foot staircase of boulders. Twin wafers of vibrant gold — the wings of a tiger swallowtail butterfly — fluttered down alongside it. At the bottom of the wall two girls tiptoed through underwater moss. One wore red, the other, pink. Two sets of parents stood near them ready to grab a wayward arm.

A boy clambered down from the side and spotted his target: the butterfly, blinking in the sun with each flap. He gave chase in three-second bursts, hands outstretched. The insect ducked and bobbed between his arms but never went far, as if it were joining the boy’s game. After one or two minutes the boy gave up the chase,  lobbing rocks at the butterfly instead.

He missed. The butterfly stayed,  flashing yellow among flecks of silver water.

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Vacation

_C1_4046I just got back from my first official vacation as a grown-up from my grown-up job. I used it to see places I like and people I love up north in St. Joseph, Mo., and Lincoln, Neb. Of course the camera was brought along, too.

First was St. Joe, where one of my best friends now works. Before he got off work I spent a couple of hours getting acquainted with a town that’s about the same size as Fayetteville but lacks the heavy dose of college.

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_C1_3823St. Joe sits right on Missouri’s edge along the Missouri River. Like towns across the Midwest, railroads sustained it. Now the wedge between the rail and downtown, mostly neighborhoods, is in pretty rough shape. But religious statues stand solemnly in many yards and kids found plenty to do in the afternoon.

A woman named Karen asked what I was doing walking around with a camera in a way that was somehow friendly and demanding at once. She’s raising her grandkids, she said, and didn’t like creeps. “Like that guy,” she muttered darkly, pointing to a white man walking in the middle of the street. But Karen was good-natured, busily clearing weeds and leaves from her front yard and chatting with her good friend Patty before picking up those grandchildren from school.

Later my friend took me to a restaurant that had the greatest calzones, bulging with cheese and thick dough that shone with garlic butter. The next morning, it was on to Lincoln.

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_C1_3883It was the weekend of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln football team’s spring game — essentially showing (or finding out) what next year’s team can do in front of 40,000 people. Games in the fall will bring more than twice that many.

If you’re not familiar with Husker football, I’ll tell you one thing: It’s an institution. There are no professional teams in the state, and you won’t find anyone who doesn’t at least have a relative or friend bleeding Husker red. In short, even the spring game is exciting here, and my hotel was packed (though a wedding or two also helped).

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_C1_4124If you don’t know, I played trombone for the Cornhusker Marching Band for four years, including the last two as section leader. I almost wished I had brought my trombone along. But the most important part of this trip was my friends. I can’t even say how great it is to see them. I hadn’t been up to Lincoln since August, and my pulse was up the moment I stepped out of my car. Energizing is the first word that comes to mind, but that doesn’t really cover it.

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_C1_3973On Sunday the 80-degree and sunny weather gave way to an epic cold front that dumped the hardest rain I’ve ever encountered and sent temperatures into free fall. Pelicans had arrived for their annual migration at the Bellevue lake where another friend lives.

By Sunday night, the unthinkable happened. It snowed. Good to see you, too, Nebraska.

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_C1_4207I mean that, though. Good to see you, Nebraska.

Thanks for looking,

Dan

Opening Day

_C1_3484Three girls — one in a red wagon, surrounded by colorful cookie boxes — wove through couples and parents and grandparents and kids. “Girl scout cookies, $3.50!” one yelled out. Booths of herbs or vegetables or ceramics lined all for sides of Fayetteville’s downtown square.

Dogs only as tall as their owners’ ankles sniffed at Great Danes and one Irish wolfhound, towering and stately. The breeze was cool under the crisp light of a warm morning sun. The smell of cinnamon rolls and muffins drifted enticingly through the crowd, mixing with the fragrance of a white canopy of tree blossoms.

Today was the first day of the season for the Fayetteville Farmers Market. Between the displays there were a whole lot of people, a whole lot of dogs and a whole lot of smiles — not to be too cheesy, but it’s true. So I took some pictures.

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_C1_3591I’ll say again, there were dozens of dogs, most representing their own breed or mix. They, along with the many climbing opportunities in the square, kept a legion of kids happy.

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That large, bronze sphere is the World Peace Fountain, which has the phrase “May peace prevail on Earth” inscribed in about a hundred languages.

All of these things kept the parents busy, too. But it was a fun place, and the market goes until November. I hope to make it back.

Thanks for looking!

Dan

 

Blue and Gold

_C1_3413I was resolved to stay near my apartments this evening, though I wanted to take another shot at capturing lightning. I was not disappointed.

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_C1_3175The storm wave moved through the area in time to let through the golden glow of the sunset. It combined with the storm’s deep blue, and the sky became a watercolor rainbow of yellow, salmon and purple. I sure do love nature’s light shows. And I didn’t even have to leave my porch.

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_C1_3245Thanks for looking!

Dan