Minnehaha on the rocks

_MG_0364.JPGSome of you might remember my first visit to Minnehaha Falls in June, when it was tumbling over a verdant cliff in a lush valley. Six months later, a good snowfall and a week of freezing temperatures have given the 50-foot falls a set of icicles almost as tall.

I went Minnehaha Regional Park last weekend right after that snow arrived and saw miniature snowmen and snow-plastered trees. But the creek itself was almost completely clear of ice.

_MG_0349.JPG

_MG_0348.JPGSo I went back today to see what the cold had sculpted since then. Minnehaha Creek has frozen itself into narrow channels and ice tunnels. The ice’s surface often looks topographical, forming stair-step terraces, sometimes a few feet tall, that remind me of terraced rice fields or canyon walls. Instead of wearing away at these canyons, the water has built them.

_MG_0370.JPG

_MG_0412.JPG

_MG_0377.JPG

_MG_0395.JPGThose white blobs are bubbles that continuously flowed through what looked like a 4-foot-long, crystal-clear ice straw.

_MG_0425.JPGIt can be hard to see with transparent ice, but the shot above shows a good example of the terrace sets I saw: maybe 3 feet tall and stepping down from the upper left to lower right, with water gushing on the left side.

This last shot is what looked to be another set of terraces somehow under the water, giving them a distorted and unreal appearance.

_MG_0419.JPGThanks for looking!
Dan

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.

_MG_2191.JPG

_MG_2093.JPG

_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.

_MG_2210.JPG

_MG_2173.JPG

_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.

_MG_1828.JPG

_MG_1860.JPG

_MG_1801.JPG

_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.

_MG_1926.JPG

_MG_2002.JPG

_MG_1962.JPG

_MG_2014.JPGThanks for looking.

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.

_MG_1375.JPG

_MG_1440.JPG

_MG_1451.JPG

_MG_1550.JPG

_MG_1577.JPG

_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.

_MG_1688.JPG

_MG_1651.JPG

_MG_1623.JPG

_MG_1685.JPG

_MG_1704.JPG

_MG_1661.JPG

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