Thaw

_C1_6145We’re less than a third of the way through winter, and it feels like spring. Never pass up a warm January day.

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_C1_6235Last time I was in Ozark National Forest, I focused on reaching a 10-foot waterfall; the prize this weekend was more along the lines of this 10-millimeter-tall moss. A forest on the small scale is full of intricate branches and fractals and spirals.

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_C1_6392_C1_6429I know I’m on a bit of a nature/tight-frame kick lately; I hope it’s not repetitive yet. Street photography’s the plan for at least the next week or two.

A forest isn’t a bad subject, though, even in January. Icicles 10 feet long were polished to smooth, lethal-looking blades by the warmer temperatures, for example.

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_C1_6382Thanks for lookin’,

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.

In the Air

_C1_4397You all know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, right?

I’m just teasing, but it’s funny to me that whether it’s in my family’s house or on Fayetteville’s square, the week before Thanksgiving is the time for Christmas lights. Maybe it’s still warm enough to put them up, or maybe it’s that sunsets these days are so early that we need to fill the evenings with some light of our own (I swear every year the sunsets get earlier.). Or it could be that we’re impatient.

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_C1_4492Most of this week’s photos are from the first night of the Lights of the Ozarks in the square, an annual event that organizers say includes half a million of those cylindrical bulbs. In true Ozark fashion, the first night resembled a county fair, with stacks of corn dogs and a pony merry-go-round in between glowing trees. Lots of families and lots of selfies, too, of course.

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_C1_4264I wonder if there’s any cultural significance to our focus on light during the season of darkening skies and hibernation, the night of a figurative year-long day. Is our light defiance, or just a calm source of comfort and fun for ourselves? I don’t mean to drag it all down, but it’s interesting to think about, at least to me.

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_C1_4552This is Razorback Stadium, bathed in red light from the jumbo screen. The pinkish glow of the clouds above was visible for at least a mile. Just for kicks, I suppose.

_C1_4561These guys were having fun spinning their own lights just outside my apartment building. The next morning I went home for an early Thanksgiving. As is tradition, Christmas decorations came out after the big dinner.

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IMG_0437My dad’s side of the family gave me an early Thanksgiving because I’m heading to my mom’s in Arizona this week — should be a good time, and some places and people to photograph on the side.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving (or Christmas) or don’t, I hope this time of year brings you comfort and lights and good food. Thanks for looking.

Dan

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The Stage

_C1_2392This sunset came Friday — a perfect birthday gift. It was a tough week here. On Thursday, a solitary locomotive a few miles south of Fayetteville collided with a small, stationary passenger train it had been sent to help. No one was killed, but most of the 50 or so people on the two trains were jostled around pretty well, and a few were seriously injured. The AP and the Wall Street Journal had picked up the news by the time I left work.

It was a lot for us at the newspaper to deal with, but obviously the ordeal was far more agonizing for many people on the trains, including the driver of the aiding locomotive, who officials said was among the most severely wounded. I hope everyone recovers as well as they can.

_C1_2358Within half an hour of the accident, several dozen emergency responders in ambulances, fire trucks and deputy cars swarmed Highway 71 near the tracks, including a lot of volunteer firefighters I recognized. At least half a dozen agencies were involved coordinated their efforts. Even Benton County to the north sent ambulances southward to make sure all of this county remained covered.

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_C1_2382Whatever’s going on with us humans, the seasons keep moving on.

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_C1_2424As the sun neared the horizon Saturday, giants made of papier-mache and cloth gathered in Fayetteville’s Wilson Park to put on a play: It was time for the eighth annual Puppets in the Park. At least a hundred people, mostly families, sat and stood in a semicircle to watch a story about good and evil told only with music, gestures and caricatured masks.

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_C1_2525Here, the Coyote leads the small Mud People to a better home, watched over by gods of the Sun and water. The goats helped. It was a simple, archetypal story, and the crowd gamely supplied enthusiastic cheers for the Mud People and boos for the grotesque villains along the way.

I’d never seen anything like it in person, but I loved it. The play felt old somehow, as if it were the re-enactment of a religious tradition kept for hundreds of years somewhere else in the world. The Art Experience of Fayetteville, which organized the event, also gave the story a political edge, setting it in the context of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who came to the U.S.’s southern border earlier this year.

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_C1_2606The show ended with dancing.

My birthday weekend drew to a close today, but this evening I finally got what I wanted most after a tough week: a hike.

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_C1_2691---CopyThanks for looking, and take care of yourself.

Dan