The old backyard

IMG_2525.JPGThere’s no mistaking a southwestern Missouri creek. I’ll always recognize the high-pitched clink the fist-sized rocks make when I walk on them. Many of them bear tiny round or cylindrical fossils — some rocks are essentially nothing but fossil. Crawdads and snails and fish flit or crawl over the creek bed. The water itself, cool and clear, gleams golden and reflected green. I’ve known these creeks, like Bull Creek above, since my earliest memories, and my dad has known them even longer. It was good to get back a couple of weekends ago.






IMG_2490.JPGI’m heading up north again in a couple weeks for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse that will sweep from coast to coast. Click that link for detailed maps on where to see the total blockage of the sun by the moon — you can bet I’ll have about 1,000 photos to share, but it sounds like photos won’t do this cosmic event nearly the justice it deserves. If you can go and decide to do it, watch out for tens of thousands of others doing the same. If you don’t, you’ll at least get a partial eclipse no matter where you are in the country. But there’s no way I’m missing this thing; I’ve been looking forward to it for more than a year.

See you on the other side!



IMG_5302.JPGI set out last weekend to explore a new corner of the Buffalo National River, and for the most part I failed.

The Cecil Cove Loop Trail braids back and forth over Cecil Creek, winding past an old cemetery, long-abandoned settlements and rock walls and a spur trail that leads to two lovely waterfalls. But I didn’t get to see those things. First, I drove down a dirt and gravel road I shouldn’t have driven down, and only the fact that we were going downhill saved us from getting stuck (a sign at the end of this road helpfully alerted traffic from the other direction to hazardous conditions). Almost as soon as we came to the first creek crossing on the trail, the sighting of what looked like a sizable cottonmouth spurred a quick about-face.

Back at the trailhead, we stopped by the century-old Erbie Church, a tin-roofed, five-pewed building that wouldn’t look out of place in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or maybe The Walking Dead. Eventually I wanted to re-try the trail’s loop in the other direction, away from the creek. By then our water supply was too low to make the miles-long hike, so we gave up on that attempt, too.




IMG_5319.JPGI wasn’t ready for this one. I’ve hiked seven hours in sand and up quiet and rugged corners of Yosemite, not to mention all the time I’ve spent around this corner of the state, but little old Arkansas still has some tricks up its sleeve. My hiking ability doesn’t matter much if I don’t know enough about the place I’m going to. I didn’t even think of snakes as an issue, which I suspect is because I haven’t spent much time alongside quiet, slow-moving creeks. I was overconfident. Lesson learned.

The weekend wasn’t a total bust — I got some time at Silver Dollar City, both above and below ground, and caught an unusual sight in my apartment parking lot.






IMG_5232.JPGThanks for looking, and be safe out there.


First of the Season

_C1_6315.JPGSummer has begun, temperatures are high and the days following the solstice Monday are getting shorter. But those long summer evenings are still plenty long. With a lot of negative stuff in the news lately, I offer a few pieces of summer from its first week.







_C1_6202.JPG(Look for a story in the paper this weekend about these horseback riders.)

Happy summer, and thanks for looking.