A dry cold

_MG_1315.JPGIt’s the middle of winter and we’re in a drought, so much of the visible life around here is dry and dormant. Beaver Lake’s down enough to expose black swirls and patches of leafy lake bed. I went to its Lost Bridge Trail a couple weekends ago to find some life that hasn’t hidden away for the season. Some of it was unexpectedly and lusciously green, no matter how many times we’ve dipped below freezing. Then there’s the life of the water itself. You know by now that I love a lot of things about water; one of them is how it can be such a perfect canvas for color and gradient and energy.

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Sorry for the long wait; I got bad food poisoning a few hours after this hike, and even after that I felt a little nauseous looking at these pictures. Stay healthy out there, and keep an eye out for the color that’s still around.

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June in February

_C1_9670.JPGThis past weekend was ridiculously, bizarrely warm. Fayetteville on Saturday reached 81 degrees, 9 above the record and about 30 above normal for a February day. According to the National Weather Service, it’s more typical for late May and early June.

So that made this year’s Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for Arkansas Special Olympics that involves jumping into Beaver Lake in wacky costume, considerably less polar than usual. Not that the participants minded. The umbrella-jellyfish were my favorites.

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_C1_9624.JPGAfter that I headed to Fayetteville’s Wilson and Walker parks, then took a stroll on the Razorback Greenway the next day. A year into my very slow journey down the trail and I’m finally into Rogers.

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_C1_0162.JPGWe’re a bit closer to normal now, which is for the best, I think, though it’s gloomier. Thanks for looking.

Dan

October color

IMG_7883.JPGThe birthday hike’s becoming a tradition.

This year’s was at a new corner of Beaver Lake, the Lost Bridge trail at its north end. Sunday was bright and warm. Acorns pelted the layer of fallen leaves. A southern wind whistled through the rigging and clanged the bells of the ships floating in the cove. A busted pier or two littered parts of the shore, with tiny pieces of Styrofoam lining the water. It would’ve been almost creepy if it weren’t such a beautiful day. I guess that’s fitting for October.

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IMG_7889.JPGThanks for lookin’.

Taking the Plunge

_C1_3142When the air’s cold enough, the warmest part of a wintertime polar bear plunge might be the water.

Saturday morning was bright and cold when a few hundred people filled a little corner of Beaver Lake, laughing and screaming and splashing as they willingly launched themselves into 30-some-degree water. Costumes and swimsuits didn’t do much to stop plungers’ body heat from seeping away into the water and the even chillier air. On impact with the water, people’s faces stretched into wide-mouthed shock, teeth-gritting intensity or all-out laughter, as if they couldn’t believe they got in this situation. This is fun, right?

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_C1_2875I have to assume the self-inflicted agony is at least a little fun, because people do these plunges all over the world, usually out of charity or piety. This particular plunge raised money for Special Olympics Arkansas, the state chapter of the broader organization that runs sports competitions and opportunities for people with mental and disabilities. A crowd ranging from schoolkids to grandparents turned out to give around $50,000 to the group.

Many also took the chance to show off their diving form or occasionally wacky costumes. Waldos and Oompa Loompas, a Chinese-style dragon and the whole Peanuts gang huddled together like penguins before diving in. They jumped in without hesitation and bolted out with equal gusto. A shrieking flock of high-school kids flew out of the water especially quickly toward waiting blankets and towels. Kids wrapped in towel cocoons dashed for their cars as their parents came up behind. “Invigorating!” one woman yelled out, smiling big as she dried herself off. I sure hope so, you wild people. It was at least fun to watch.

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_C1_3244Thanks for looking,

Dan