Dance on the breeze

_MG_2077.JPGEach year the sky over a rural corner of southwest Washington County fills with fabric birds and dragons and octopuses, anywhere from a few inches in size to a few dozen feet. Hundreds of them have been taking to the air over the unincorporated Canehill community for 17 years. Thank goodness I happened to be reading about Canehill’s history for work a couple weeks ago, because I might have never heard about its kite festival otherwise.

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_MG_2114.JPGApparently there’s a whole world of kite festivals I never knew about. The folks with the unusual black kite above (called a canard, or “duck” in French) told me Eureka Springs has its own in a few weeks that typically draws a crowd of serious kite enthusiasts. T.A. Sampson owns Springfield Ranch in Canehill and said she started her own festival just for fun, because she’s had a good life. She was quick to credit a dozen volunteers for making it all happen.

Saturday was breezy and beautiful, almost perfect for flying. Kites rose and fell en masse as the wind waxed and waned, occasionally diving to the ground with an alarming flutter of nylon. Such a dense gathering of kites meant some snagged each other’s strings as if fighting over patches of air. Trailing streamers gave many of them the look of sea creatures swimming against the current. I loved it.

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_MG_2188.JPGFor anyone wanting to head out next year, it costs a buck or two per person, a few more for a kite if you need it.

Thanks for looking!

Dan

Tanyard Creek

_MG_2069.JPGOn Sunday we emerged from the deluge: six straight days of showers and storms that dropped as many inches of rain, more than double the typical February. It caused flood warnings and left the ground a squishy muck. It also meant, of course, some good waterfalls. I took the chance to introduce myself to Tanyard Creek, a strong waterway known for its falls that flows through Bella Vista just off Interstate 49 near the Missouri border. A nature trail runs up and down the Tanyard valley. The woods are dense and Bella Vista is diffuse and quiet enough that I could almost forget I was right in the middle of town.

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_MG_1891.JPGAs with the rain, we seem to be emerging from winter itself as well. Spider silk drooped over the trail, weighed down by dew. The forest seemed more alive, with crimson flashes of cardinals, a heron, a quick glimpse of a bald eagle flying overhead. Excitable daffodils already poked out of the fallen leaves. I’ve been hearing frogs again around my apartment.

Still, the nights below freezing show winter’s not quite done. The cold night before my hike filled parts of the Tanyard valley with thick fog that shrouded the falls at one end of the trail, which are this park’s centerpiece. I might’ve waited for the fog to burn off, but I sort of liked the mystery of it. I’ll come back when everything’s green.

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_MG_2014.JPGThanks for looking.

Between the storms

_C1_8531.JPGThis month has brought a whole lot of rain: more than 7 inches so far this month, with another 8 (!) possible between now and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Yesterday’s storm swept away a homeless camp in Fayetteville, caused other flash flooding and caught houses on fire with its lightning, and that was with only 3 inches of rain. The ground is almost completely saturated, so be careful of all the runoff this weekend, and especially don’t drive through it.

The pauses in the mayhem, on the other hand, have brought great chances to see local waterfalls at their full power. The one above is a cascade at one end of Lake Wedington, which sits in a nearby patch of the Ozark National Forest. I took an early morning hike on the trail along the lake’s edge Sunday, my first time there.

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_C1_8524.JPGThe waterfall drains the lake around the trail’s halfway point and was absolutely gushing, tumbling 50 or so feet and throwing off curtains of mist. The torrent blocked me from going any further — the trail continues somewhere on the other side of this mist. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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_C1_8642.JPGToday brought another break in the rain, so I hurried down to Devil’s Den State Park this evening. Some of the waterfalls there are going as strong as I’ve seen.

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By this weekend, the falls might look more like this. Stay dry, everyone.

And at the risk of being way too presumptuous or commercial, if you all like any images in this or other posts, you can get prints of some of them (in much higher resolution) here. It might take a few days after a post for the photos to appear, but I keep it pretty up to date. Feel free to tell me which, if any, you’d like to have available.

Thanks for looking,

Dan

Belly of the beast

_C1_1502.JPGNature tonight put on a display like I’ve never seen.

A massive line of storms filled the northern horizon by sunset, and before long streaks of light criss-crossed its entire length. Bolts zapped outside of their cover every few seconds, while those hidden in the thunderheads snaked like immense glowing dragons through curtains of rain and billowing vapor, something impossible to capture with photos. Despite all this, the sky directly above was still clear. Moonlight highlighted the storm’s edge.

It would have been enough for me if it had stopped there.

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_C1_1331.JPGIt didn’t stop there. After a couple of hours the dragons reached Fayetteville, and the lightning only picked up the pace. Barely half a second passed without a paparazzi-like burst. The roar of a serious downpour got louder and louder as it approached and swept from one end of my apartment complex to the other. Some hail fell. Mostly it was flash after flash after flash. Usually I struggle to get enough decent shots of these bolts. This time they were just about overwhelming.

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_C1_1718.JPGThanks for the show, nature. And thank you for looking.

Dan