Marching on

_MG_1416.JPGSaturday afternoon was misty, dreary and below freezing, and it turns out it takes more than that to stop Fayetteville’s Mardi Gras parade. This one was the city’s 27th and my fourth. The weather certainly cut down the size of the crowd from past years, but everyone who came out cheered extra loud, decked themselves out in extra color and dove for thrown beads and candy with extra enthusiasm in spite of the gray day.

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_MG_1581.JPGHere’s to a happy official Mardi Gras this week and a happy Lent after, for those observing it.

I meant to end here, but all of that mist and drizzle spend the evening and overnight freezing to every surface. Roads and sidewalks this morning around my apartment were too slick for much more than slow hobbling. The grass was crunchy. This wasn’t frost; it was a half-centimeter or so of solid, unadorned ice. I had to see more.

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_MG_1692.JPGThanks for looking, and stay warm out there.

Breaking Habits

_C1_5148.JPGFayetteville’s Dickson Street SpringFest kicked off on a chilly Saturday morning with a 5k-run and pancakes, but what really brought out the crowds was the dog parade. Around a hundred owners trailed four-legged parade participants ranging in size from Great-Dane-level behemoths to a literal handful – lots of “awwwwww”s from the crowd for this little guy named Toad. You can’t beat puppies.

_C1_5054.JPGThings were a bit livelier after that. Local bands featuring a ukulele, a mandolin, a clarinet and several guitars filled the block with alternately high-tempo and saucy folk music. Hundreds of people milled between a beer garden and booths selling crafts and kettle corn and clothing. Dogs and kids scampered around their parents’ feet.

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_C1_5099.JPGBut one booth was quiet. The banner above it declared the Breaking Habits Crew brings true hip-hop culture to northwest Arkansas. Half a dozen guys did some sporadic breakdancing (or just “breaking,” in the official lingo) on a roll-out dance mat, enough activity to draw a crowd every now and then, but they put their real performance on hold during a string of back luck.

At first, they seemed hesitant to sonically compete with the folk music a couple hundred feet away. Then the car battery they brought wasn’t powering their speakers for some reason. Then another band started. Then the new gasoline generator a member left to buy wouldn’t work no matter where its many switches were set. Then there were the bed races. The rest of the festival wasn’t stopping. One of the guys joked God just wasn’t in the mood for them.

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_C1_5839.JPGAfter four hours or so, a break finally came: an old boombox connected to a phone. Work with what you have. The guys made up for the wait with gusto, launching into flips and twists and quick, segmented moves that traveled through their bodies one joint at a time. The display was definitely worth the wait.

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_C1_5445.JPGThanks for looking,

Dan

2015

_C1_5493Here’s to growth, learning, some things changing and some things staying the same. Happy New Year!

_C1_5504I watched Fayetteville’s firework show marking the end of 2014, a roller coaster year for the world, from up on Mount Sequoyah. Families and college kids joined me. You can see a couple fireworks over there in the bottom right corner above.

Some color in the sky is a relief, because we’ve had overcast skies for most of the last three weeks or so. I’m just about tired of it. I don’t know if it was because of crummy weather, getting sidetracked with Christmas prep or work’s winding down for the year, but I’ve felt unfocused and distracted since my last post. The photos from the last couple weeks bounce around a bit because of that, so thanks for tagging along.

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_C1_5045Up in Rogers, the outdoor Promenade Mall was a crowded, noisy place a couple of days before the holiday.

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_C1_5070A peek of sun shone out before dusk. I hope your Christmas was a fairly relaxed and good time.

It was quieter in Fayetteville’s National Cemetery, where Wreaths Across America left tokens of the holiday in front of every marker and gravestone, little declarations that someone remembered the dead. I hope you weren’t alone this season, unless you wanted to be, and have good memories of the year’s end to keep.

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IMG_1127One last stop before Christmas Eve: the bowling alley.

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_C1_5150Christmastime up in Springfield brought lots of cookies, lots of presents and lots of games, along with precious hours of sunlight. Sun and warmth in winter is hiking weather, so we went to the city’s Nature Center.

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IMG_1196I don’t know what was up with my lens here, but this is a hollowed-out, decomposing old stump filled to the brim with inch-tall mushrooms. I hope the season has brought some small joys or surprises to you, too.

The sun went away again before I left.

IMG_1206The Sun stayed mostly hidden until New Year’s Eve, when the flat gray of the clouds gave way to a few more interesting patterns and my unfocused funk finally broke.

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_C1_5223Before the midnight fireworks, I wandered around the square, catching a giant puppet parade (much like another puppet appearance in October) and a few un-costumed celebrators. I’d never had a New Year’s Eve like it.

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_C1_5380I hope you can jump into the new year with, if not excitement, at least some determination to make of it what you can and occasionally to look around at the people and stories walking around you.

Thanks for looking here. Have another firework photo, just for kicks:

_C1_5510And some good news: The Sun should come out again on Sunday.