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Friday, January 29, 2016

Hiking In The Snow


There are things in our life that we want to do, but circumstances don't always allow them to happen. Such was the case with my desire to get a picture of the Old Mill in the snow. I've wanted to do that for years, but it's in an area with hilly roads that become slick in snowy/icy weather. Finally, I was able to get there in the snow. The roadways were clear, but the snow was still on the ground. I knew it had to have been much prettier the day before when all those trees were covered in snow, but instead of feeling disappointed I decided to just accept what it was and be thankful that I got there at all!


My sister was with me and we decided we weren't ready to head home. We were enjoying the snow and the sunshine, so we headed to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. In the picture above Pinnacle is in the distance covered in snow.


Near the visitor's center is a beautiful quarry. I don't know what type of minerals are in this water, but it is a beautiful blue/green. Beginning at the quarry is a trail that we've never hiked. We debated whether to hike it for about, oh, five seconds and then we hit the trail.


We realized as we began walking that no one had walked the trail since it had snowed. We couldn't decide it that was cool thing or if maybe others knew better than to walk the snowy trail.


As we went deeper in the woods, the trail became less visible under the snow. If the trail had not been marked so well with green paint on the trees, we would never have competed it. Who knows where we would have wound up. At least, we knew we couldn't get lost, we only had to turn around and follow our footsteps out.


There is just something so magical about hiking in the snow. It's amazingly quiet. Sometimes the only sound was the water flowing down several small creeks that we had to cross. 



After seeing all the snow in other parts of the US, it makes me very grateful that when it snows, it's usually only small amounts; six inches this time. Our lives return to normal pretty quickly!  Of course, there's nothing normal about Arkansas weather!  It was up in the 60's today and will be close to 70 tomorrow! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Day


It began as sleet peppering against the windows.
Around midnight it turned to big fluffy flakes of snow.
By morning we had at least six inches.
It didn't take me long to bundle up and head outside.


It's a different world out in the woods with everything covered in snow.


The usual browns of winter had turned to almost black and white.


The pine trees were gorgeous, their branches holding layers of snow.


There is nothing like the quiet in the woods on a snowy day.
All I could hear was the sound of water,
a few birds, and my own footsteps.


It was the perfect snow.
The snow fell.
Children got a snow day from school.
Snowmen were built.
Snowballs were thrown.
The sun popped out mid-morning.
The roads began to clear.
By mid-afternoon life around the city was pretty much back to normal.
Perfect!


I want to thank my friend, Katie Austin, for showing me the beautify of the world through a crystal ball. I love snow globes and now I feel like I can make my own!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Beautiful Discovery


I'm sitting comfortably in my warm house looking out the window at our first measurable snowfall. Yesterday we had sleet and freezing rain and today we have snow. It's a little too early to be out, still too dark for pictures. Since I'm stuck inside waiting for daylight, I'll tell you about the fun time I had with my sister last week when it was in the sixties!!


We discovered part of Hot Springs National Park that we didn't know existed. I saw a Facebook post with pictures of an old mill and pond along Stone Bridge Road. My sister and I were both born and spent part of our childhood in Hot Springs. We go back several times a year and we pass this road almost every time. We had no idea that there was such a beautiful area so close by.


Have you ever gotten to a new place and your heart beats a little faster as you realize the beauty of what you've discovered? That's what happened when we rounded the corner and saw Rick's Pond. On one end was the stone bridge, hence the name of the road, and on the other end was a stone dam.




If you look closely at the picture below in the right lower corner you'll see a pipe sticking out of the stones. Keep that in mind. I'll get back to it later. 



As we were walking toward the other end of the creek, that's formed from the overflow of the pond, we spotted this very unusual house up on a hill. It looked old and looked to be a log cabin. Through the trees we could see an open cupola on the roof right behind a very tall chimney.


When I was searching for information on the mill, I discovered that this beautiful home was built in 1909 by Col. Samuel W. Fordyce, an early pioneer who came to Hot Springs in 1873 for the therapeutic hot waters. He called it his cabin. Pretty nice cabin if you ask me! The house has a little more history. In 1937 Earl T. Ricks purchased the property and after W.W.II he returned home to become mayor of Hot Springs, then Adjutant General and Chief of the U.S. Air National Guard. The home and grounds are now used for events such as weddings.

The Cabin
(picture courtesy of Old Houses )

Further down the creek we saw the old mill. It didn't have the look of a gristmill. There was a pipe that went up the side of the building where water would move the mill. The inside workings didn't look right either. We didn't have a clue, so it was time for more research. The stone mill house is the remains of an old hydroelectric system; a water-powered generator designed and built by Colonel John R. Fordyce (Col. Sam Fordyce's son) in 1921. Remember the pipe I mentioned coming ouf of the stone dam? Water was channeled from the lake through the pipe to the mill. The water turned the wheel creating free electricity to those who lived in the mansion/cabin.



Part of the workings were still inside the building.


Note the wooden spokes of the wheel. 


In order to get to the mill we had to cross a stone walkway over the creek. It's not very wide and you know as one ages your sense of balance gets a little off. I was a a wee bit nervous about it, but my curiosity won out. We both did fine, no falls in the water!!


It was a gorgeous day to be out wandering around, unlike today which is cold. Will the cold stop me from going out? No, I'll be out there shortly to take pictures of the snow. So, goodbye for now, I must get bundled up. The snow is calling my name!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Let It Graupel?


It fell softly this cold January morning.
Little bits of snow surrounded by ice crystals.
Snow pellets I call them.
They landed on my garden bench.


They fell on the window of my car.


A little acorn collected them in its bowl.


They were caught in silky spider webs.
Little bits of crystal wonder.


After I came in to warm up I did a little research on snow pellets. They are called graupel. They form when snow passes through cool water in the atmosphere. Ice crystals form instantly around the outside of the snow. They are also called soft hail or tapioca snow. Tapioca snow sounds much better than graupel to me.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silver-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~ Bill Morgan, Jr.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What Does The Word Mean - Part IV

I'm still working through David Wythe's book, Consolations, with a group of photographers. The challenge is to photograph "the solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of everyday words."  I'm a little behind in posting my photos and thoughts. December was quiet busy, but hopefully I'll catch up in the next couple of weeks. You can read this post for a little more information on the challenge.

* * * * *

GENIUS


Genius: the quality of a given place; air, land, water,
trees, and smells combined with it's history

Civil War Site: Bayou Meto, Arkansas
At this location Confederate forces stopped the Federal Calvary from crossing the Bayou Meto in route to capture the capital of Arkansas. As I stood on the banks of the bayou I closed my eyes, felt the slight breeze, heard the rippling water, and smelled the woodsy odor of the rich black soil and the cypress trees. I felt this place. A deep sadness filled me for those who were lost and wounded in this battle.


* * * * *

GIVING



The giving of gifts has always been hard for me. I never seem to find just the perfect gift for someone. Maybe it's because I have never spent "a long time sitting in [my] armchair in silent contemplation of those [I] want to gift looking for the imaginative doorway that says I know you and see you and this is how I give thanks for you . . ."  ~David Whyte


* * * * *

GRATEFUL


I am grateful for the delightful surprises that await when I open my eyes and really see.

"It is not joy that makes us grateful,
it's gratitude that makes us joyful.
~ Brother Davied Steindl-Rast


* * * * *

GROUNDED



It's the simple things in life that bring me pleasure and keep me focused. It's the ground I walk on, the plants, the creatures, and the clouds. These calming gifts of nature help keep me from being overwhelmed as life brings many changes.


* * * * *

HAUNTED


Often we are so disturbed and obsessed by on emotion, a memory, or even an idea that we feel haunted by it. Being haunted doesn't always have to be dark and dreary. Sometimes what is haunting us can give us courage to take the next step in our lives.

"When we make a friend of what we previously could not face, what once haunted us now becomes an invisible, parallel ally, a beckoning hand to our future."
~ David Whyte


* * * * *

HEARTBREAK


"But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way."
~ David Whyte


* * * * *

I think why I've enjoyed this challenge so much is that it makes me think of the lesser used meaning of some words like genius and haunted. Whyte has such a unique way of interpreting words that sometimes I find if very hard to even understand his definitions. I have to read the chapter several times to absorb what he's saying. This project has been challenging for me, but definitely good. 

"I like good strong words that mean something . . ."
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women



Friday, January 8, 2016

The Rest Of The Story


When I say I'm going to do something, I try very hard to do it. Only sometimes it takes me a while! Last month I posted about our family trip at Thanksgiving. At the end I said, "There's just so much I want to share about our week. I'll be back with a few more nature details as soon as I'm able."  Well, it seems it took me a long time to be able! I was honestly going to post a couple of days later, but it's been over 40 days! I'll just blame that on Christmas!


Each morning I would head out on the deck. taking in the beauty of the mountains and valleys. The sunrises were gorgeous, but so was the foggy, rainy morning. The weather didn't stop us, we headed out no matter what.


We had planned several hikes for the week. I was excited because a couple of the trails had waterfalls. There are several waterfalls in Arkansas, but many of them are difficult to reach or on private land. In this area of the Ozark Mountains there are a few that the inexperienced hiker can reach. The first waterfall we saw was "The Glory Hole." This waterfall is one of most famous waterfalls in Arkansas. Dismal Creek runs through the area and over time the water has worn a hole right through the top of a huge cave cascading to the cave floor.


You can walk into the cave behind the waterfall, sit on the rocks, and enjoy the beauty and sounds of nature.


The second waterfall we hiked to was on the Lost Valley Trail. The trail leads to Eden Falls, a 53-foot tall waterfall. Pictures don't do it justice. It's a long way down to the pool below.



The Buffalo River which runs through the area is a favorite spot for canoeing. It's a breathtaking area with massive towering bluffs that are so colorful.


The upper river valley is home to the Arkansas elk herd. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission made an agreement with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources in 1980 to trade Arkansas large mouth bass for Rocky Mountain Elk. Now there is an estimated 650+ elk in this area.


They are massive animals, standing up to five feet high at the shoulder and weighing from 600 to 1000 pounds. We were fortunate to hear the bugle calls from a couple of big bucks. It's such a lonely, haunting sound. The bugle starts low and throaty, rising to a high whistle, then dropping to a grunt. It's not an easy sound to imitate. My grandsons and I tried. We weren't very good and our bugling was interrupted with giggles! If you'd like to hear an elk Yellowstone has a website where you can listen to their calls. It will really surprise you what they sound like! 


I'll move on quickly because this is getting rather long. There were some very old homesteads in the area that we were able to wander around. This homestead had a cabin, a root cellar,  a barn, and even an outhouse.


There's a sign by the outhouse which reads

Uncle Sam's Gift
The Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) came out to the Ozarks to improved daily living. Farmers asked for a new federally designed, pre-cast-concrete-floored privy." The advertisement read "Your home is not complete without a sanitary unit. Recommended by the State Department of Public Health."

I don't know how many of you have ever used an outhouse. I'm telling my age, but I have and I don't care if they have wood floors or concrete floors there's nothing sanitary about them!


We had such a great time wandering through the Ozarks and along the Buffalo River. I was reminded again just how beautiful Arkansas is.

Again forgive the delay in posting the rest of the story. I'll try to either not promise or be more prompt next time!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy 2016!


2016
Here we are at the beginning of another year.
New Year's Day dawned cold and cloudy, but by mid-morning the sun was shining through the clouds. We needed this sunshine after days of clouds and rain! It always feels better to start the new day and a new year with bright sunny skies!

My dad and sister joined us for dinner. I served a chicken noodle casserole, green beans, cornbread, and made a pot of black-eyed peas. In the southern states we know you MUST eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring prosperity and good luck. I also read that a granny-woman near Fayetteville, Arkansas says that "On New Year's you just eat black-eyed peas, with a dime under your plate, an' wear a pair of red garters, an' you'll have good luck the whole year." We didn't do the dime or garters. I wish I'd know about them earlier and I would have made my dad a red garter to wear! 

Just in case your interested or even if you just need a good chuckle today here's a link to more Ozark folklore.


Cold
Did I mention cold?
Do you know that I love the cold weather?
Twenty-six degrees this morning had me hastily dressing, grabbing my coat and gloves, and rushing outside where everything was fringed in lacy frost. The frost added it's own lovely fringe to my Chinese Fringe Flower that is still covered in blooms. Blooming in winter? Well, yes, you see it was eighty-one degrees the day after Christmas. How is the bush supposed to know it's winter?

My first two days of 2016 have been beautiful. I'm hoping that yours has been too.
I wish you a Happy New Year filled with hope, peace, and love!