Two seasons

IMG_8071.JPGPlaces have moods, and it takes a few visits to really see them. The first time I went to the Goat Trail along the Buffalo River, it was cold, windy, overcast, quiet and slightly creepy. Somehow it was literally the complete opposite last weekend: warm, calm, sunny, full of people and a lot less creepy with the glow of autumn. Without the wind threatening to blow me off of the bluff, I also ventured a bit further along the 5-foot-wide trail. Slowly.

IMG_8004.JPG

IMG_8081.JPG

IMG_8021.JPG

IMG_8060.JPG

IMG_8035.JPG

IMG_8052.JPG

IMG_8045.JPGI just love these junipers so much — strong, worn smooth with age and leaning into the steep drop of a couple hundred feet.

As the sun sank, a little bit of the old creepiness came out. I didn’t mind.

IMG_8084.JPG

IMG_8089.JPG

IMG_8098.JPG

Thanks for lookin’.

Dan

Who we are

t_parade-17.jpg“Our country has changed,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote three years ago in a majority opinion that found the landmark Voting Rights Act was being used unfairly against several states with histories of intimidation and violence toward black voters. Black voter registration has equaled white registration in many of those places and more have minorities in office, Roberts said, concluding the set of states covered by the act is based on outdated information.

The victorious lawyer for the Alabama county protesting the voting law took a more sweeping stance: “There is an old disease, and that disease is cured.”

There are plenty of things I could point to in order to show how wrong-headed this statement was, but this past week has been especially gut-punching. Following the presidential election, racial and religious assault and street harassment seem to have spiked. (Hate crimes last year jumped, too.) Black freshmen at Pennsylvania State University were unwillingly added to an online chat group about lynching. Groups of students across the country, including here in Arkansas, have led chants of phrases like “white power,” an American Nazi slogan. Speaking of Nazis: swastikas and other anti-Jewish nonsense are all over the place.

It’s all pretty nauseating and alarming and scary.

So I’m going to show a snapshot of the America I know a little better, the one that’s home to people who are black, Christian, urban, female, civilian, old, liberal, Jewish, transgender, straight, Buddhist, rural, military, gay, male, Native American, Muslim, conservative, white, atheistic, young, Asian, native- and foreign-born. I’ve seen them farming, dancing, building, worshiping, marching, laughing, crying, leaping, relaxing, serving and celebrating, among all of the other things we Americans do.

This is a tiny piece of who we are.

_C1_8882.JPG

_C1_7315.JPG

_C1_9831.JPG

IMG_9570.jpg

_C1_5526.JPG

_C1_1220.JPG

_C1_0500.JPG

t_0811-Dinh-Quang-7.jpg

_C1_8968.JPG

trans2.jpg

_32I7145.JPG

_32I7836-(2).jpg

_C1_5650.JPG

IMG_9783.JPG

_C1_8106.JPG

_C1_1135.JPG

_C1_6759.JPGStill, the truth is none of this is new. We’re the country that elected Barack Obama, and we’re the country that had several slaveholders among its founders. We’re the country that sings the praises of Martin Luther King Jr., and we’re the country that elected a successor to Obama who, despite his denunciation, is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and its ilk. We’re a country that holds up the immigrant or refugee seeking a new life as an idyllic symbol, and we’re the country that began by attacking the indigenous people and consistently treated each new wave of immigrants with suspicion or outright hatred.

All of this is who we are. We have countless things to do if we want to change it, but I think we can start with two: seeing and meeting and learning about each other a little more, and never saying or thinking that racism and other prejudices are “cured.” I know I’ll do what I can on those two things, at least.

These are just my thoughts, incomplete or flawed as they might be. Thanks for looking, and I wish you well.

County line

IMG_7985.JPGThe journey down the Razorback Greenway has finally reached Benton County. Almost halfway! Only 20 or so miles to go. I’d started to fear this quiet leg of the trail would be a relative bust for some fresh shots, but then Lake Springdale popped up around the last bend, right across the county line, and saved the day.

IMG_7957.JPG

IMG_7948.JPG

IMG_7952.JPG

IMG_7976.JPG

IMG_7968.JPG

IMG_7982.JPG

IMG_7981.JPG

IMG_7988.JPG

This last one isn’t from the trail, but I have to share it. I was walking around my apartment complex a little before sunrise and looking up at the purple clouds when I noticed birds flying south. They weren’t in an orderly V formation like geese; instead they flew at least a hundred feet from each other, moving like black flecks of ash drifting from a huge fire. They filled the sky by the thousands, ranging from just above the top of the apartment buildings to the limit of my eyesight, tiny specks in every direction. And they were silent. I had never seen anything quite like it. I’d like to learn what kind of birds they were, but Google hasn’t cracked the mystery yet. An hour or so later they were gone, and the sky was clear.

IMG_8000.JPGEvery black speck here is a bird. They’re a bit hard to see here, so opening the photo in another tab might help.

Happy November! Thanks for looking.