CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - August 2014
Cloudland Cabin Cam August 31 - end of summer and still lush and cool
Journal Updated Sunday the 31st
*COMPTON GARDENS PRINT EXHIBIT EXTENDED until September 16th - AND all prints are now on sale for HALF PRICE! There are 22 prints of the Buffalo River area on display at the beautiful Compton Gardens facility in Bentonville, Arkansas. The print selection includes this 3 foot by 4 foot gallery-wrapped canvas print of Neil Compton's Double Falls.
Other prints are up to five feet wide - all on canvas - except for one very special 30" x 40" aluminum print (Last Color at the Hedges Hole, Buffalo River - when you put light on this unique work of art, it GLOWS with the incredible colors of an Arkansas autumn!)
Compton Gardens is connected by trail to the Crystal Bridges Art Museum, so it is easy to combine a visit to both facilities with a hike in between.
Here are two links for more info - Compton Gardens (shows days and hours the exhibit is open - they are not open on weekends); and their Facebook page. (WARNING - there is a picture of the photographer here, and it is not pretty!) IF traveling a distance to view this print exhibit, be sure to contact Compton Gardens to make sure they will be open.
This is the only print exhibit of my work currently on public display. The next opportunity to view prints will be at our own Holiday Open Houses here at Cloudland in November and December...
08/04/14 The stillness of approaching dawn was broken by swift movement passing a few inches from my face. Bats! I LOVE bats! And they roost in the eaves of the cabin - have done that for years. So bat activity picks up around here in the early evenings when they head out to feed and play, and again at dawn when they return from eating their weight in bugs (i.e. mosquitoes and no-see-ums - YIPPIE!).
The sounds of dawn were a hushed lullaby rising up from the river below, and gentle drops of humidity that were sliding off our metal roof and landing on the deck below. There may have been night bugs and frogs singing but I did not hear them. Not a lot of birds up yet either - I guess they were sleeping in after a long weekend of play.
We have a new image as the Print Of The Week - it is from the new ARKANSAS NIGHTSCAPES picture book that I just completed work on last week. There is something special about this waterfall and stars photo of Mirror Lake Falls - not just the location near Blanchard Springs (where I worked for five years), but also the moment in time. It was just after dark, towards the end of twilight - you know, when the stars begin to appear. One by one, wish by wish. It is just an old wives tale that you should wish upon the first star you see - why only one wish per night? Heck fire, I wish on ALL the stars as they wake up for the night!
My wish today is that you have a terrific week ahead of you, filled with joy and laughter. And I hope you find time to do something nice for a total stranger along the way each day...
08/05/14 Summer sunflowers are just now beginning to emerge with bright yellow blooms here in the High Ozarks - about a month late. While they love open meadows, they also like the edges of forest areas, and they really stand out against the dark greens of summer. They all have such happy faces - it's like hundreds of smiles beaming at you!
Cool, calm, and quiet at first light again today, with blues in the overall landscape and pink in the sky. And high temps still in the low-80's, it continues to be a very pleasant August. LOTS of bugs though!
08/06/14 Puppy update. Our new children are growing by leaps and bounds - Pam can no longer pick up Wilson, and Amber only has a few more days left before he will be too heavy for her to lift. Looks like Mia is going to be a "toy" springer spaniel as she has remained very small (just like her two sisters). Mia is really big on energy though, and is the most adventurous of the pair for sure - always on the move and looking for something to get into. She also is in the phase of bringing anything and everything back into the cabin with her. Yesterday she produced a GIANT worm that she had dug up from the yard (we think she was trying to get Pam to go fishing). Once we got the worm away from her, we turned around and she was trying to put on a pair of lacy panties! They did not belong to me or my lovely bride, and Amber's room door is always closed, so don't know where they came from. Mia is built like a super model so I guess she was practicing for a Victoria's Secret catalog shoot.
Mia was quick to find her voice, and will often run around with something in her mouth talking. Wilson has been very quiet, and rarely speaks. But the other day as someone was approaching the cabin (never a good idea to come here unannounced), Wilson got up and barked up a storm, and would have attacked if the girls had not had him restrained - way to go Wilson! He is having trouble finding his manhood with all the ladies around him, but I think he will be just fine.
08/11/14 while sitting on the deck at 5-somthing this morning I could see lightning from the two storms circled on the map. X is our cabin. Anh here are two photos of the full moon overnight - the one of the left is of moonrise last night, and the one on the right is from moonset this morning
The full moon rise August 10th (left), and setting the next morning (right)
08/16/14 I was up early down on the lower deck doing some exercises to help rehab my shoulder. It was pretty dim outside. All of a sudden I felt the presence of strong, very yellow light. I just had the sense I was completely covered with it. I had to get up and turn around to look, and indeed there was bright, brilliant, light flooding into the canyon below and covering the landscaping. The sun had not only just appeared, but must of been shining through something out there in the atmosphere that created this beautiful golden-yellow glow. I ran upstairs and grabbed a camera, then snapped a few pictures before the glow quickly faded.
Later in the morning the puppies and I were out for a morning stroll, and we began to see lots of little bits of color on the edges of the forest. My lovely bride normally takes the dogs out for this hike, but she had business in town this morning so I got the call. The temperature was quite cool, with a slight breeze blowing, it was just a delightful morning for a stroll through the wilderness! The little bits of color started with bright yellow tiny mushrooms popping out of the soft earth. A few feet later, a single bright red leaf sitting on the trail on its edge, with light shining from behind- man this guy was really brilliant! It was a small black gum leaf, which is one of the first trees to begin to turn color in the late summer and early fall.
And there was more yellow mushrooms, a pure white mushroom, and some sort of blue fruit on the ground. The fruit looked a little bit like A persimmon. Persimmon? A BLUE persimmon? It wasn't a blueberry, it wasn't a black gum berry (those are blue), it was a blue persimmon. That's a new one on me.
We've had some great cool weather this past few weeks, and overall a nice wet summer. August is usually the hottest, and often most uncomfortable month of the year in High Ozarks. But not so this year, and each day has brought to us some wonderful cool temps and a great feeling to the air and glorious light. I used to flee Arkansas in the summertime, until I moved out into the woods. And now I love it here in summer, although, sometimes the afternoons can still get a bit warm and buggy for me.
I've been absent from making posts here these last few weeks, but this time I have a little bit of an excuse. Late last month, while attempting to kill a copperhead using a long handle shovel, at night, with three anxious girls, three excited puppies, and one very mad copperhead in front of me, I messed up my shoulder trying to silence him. Ever since then I've had issues with doing "T" things. That is, taking pictures, and typing. I tried to take pictures several times, especially of the full moon rise and full moon sets last week. And I've taken a few snapshots here and there. But it seems that all camera controls, or at least most of them, are designed for right-handed shooters. Even though I'm left-handed, I have learned to adapt and use camera controls on the right side of these cameras with no issues.
But since I messed up my right shoulder, even simple tasks such as twirling knobs on the camera and pushing the shutter button, and things like that have grown into ever– increasing painful activities. Typing has become the same way. I learned to touch type in the ninth grade, and since they have been pretty darn good at it pretty fast. (One reason was because I had a crush on the typing teacher's daughter in the ninth grade - I forget her full name now (first name Dawn), but I retained those typing skills.
I've tried the "hunt and peck" method of typing using my left hand or index finger, but that did not work too well, and proved to be very slow. So just yesterday I decided to try and catch myself up with more modern technology. I got a cheap computer microphone and have it wrapped around my neck. And I realized that there was built-in, free software already on my Macintosh computer, that allows me to simply speak - and magically, somehow it types almost exactly what I say. It really is remarkable little bit of software, especially the fact that it's completely free!
The only problem I have with typing this way is that it just seems weird to be talking to my computer. And so far have not been able to do it when anyone else is around I. E., my lovely bride. We will see how it goes. Speaking of my Lovely Bride, and I think I hear her vehicle coming down the drive right now, so it's time for me to end this post and wait until she disappears for a few minutes before I type a little more...
CAMERA FOR SALE. - PENTAX 645D (10,450 pictures taken), 9 condition with just a couple minor scuff marks (otherwise mint), with all accessories as new with box, $2900 plus shipping. E-mail with questions.
08/25/14 It was a hot and muggy evening after sunset last night. I made my way out into the middle of a hay field at the top of the ridge. I was late as always, had to work quickly to get a couple of different cameras set up and pointed towards the sky. It didn't take long for Miss Milky Way to start shining in the clear night. Soon the night sky began to fill with thousands of twinkling stars. In fact, it wasn't long before there were as many stars as there were mosquitoes and other bugs flying around! I ran for my bug suit and covered up as quickly as I could. Then went back to work and got my cameras setup correctly.
It was supposed to arrive at 8:57 PM. Since I don't wear a watch I didn't really know exactly what time it was. It must have been only after 2 or 3 test exposures when I looked up off towards the west - and son of a gun - there was! One of the stars was brighter than all the rest, and it was moving my direction. It was the International Space Station glowing brilliantly in the nighttime sky. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where and when it's going to appear – there are many web pages where you can look up the schedule. For some reason I've never paid too much attention to the space station, but I'm sure I've seen it many times - especially this past year while I was up and out during my nightscape expeditions. I’ve seen many great pictures of the space station, but I never really thought about taking them myself. But tonight would be different.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook, but one of web pages I do frequent when I remember to is the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society's Facebook page. I've always been fascinated with the sky, stars, and anything having to do with space. Of course, I grew up a space junkie and continue to be one today. There have been several good space station flyovers in recent days and I decided that this would be my night to finally go out and point my camera towards the sky and see if I could capture the spaceship.
The space station was supposed to be visible in the sky for about three minutes, and I wanted to show as much of it it's path across the sky as I could. I set one camera to take a long continuous exposure would capture great I guess in this Christmas database star trail it would be a star trail. My second camera was focused on the rising Milky Way and parts of the hay field. The second camera was set to take a series of shorter exposures specifically to capture the pinpoint stars.
Soon the space station appeared and I started both cameras. And as the space station passed overhead I walked around in front of the cameras with a big flashlight, illuminating one of the round hay bales that was positioned right in front of my camera. Or should I say just the opposite - my camera was positioned right front of the hay bale. During each of the 20-second long exposures on the second camera I would shine the light on the hay bale for a couple of seconds to light it up.
I got to spend a few seconds during each exposure just standing there and looking up in awe at the incredible vehicle that was passing overhead. It was a moment 50 years in the making – the very first time I got to photograph a spaceship on purpose!
EVENING UPDATE. Turns out the space station flew directly over the cabin tonight just after sunset, as twilight colors filled the sky. The brilliant, silver ship glided silently along at a pretty good clip. It was a beautiful sight for sure - in fact, so much so that my lovely bride came running out of the cabin to watch - AND she was so moved at the event that she flashed her boobies at the astronauts! (with a little encouragement from me) Yup, I married well didn’t I!
ONE MORE UPDATE. I spent all of last week on the road - four days driving (nearly 3,000 miles) and three days in class trying to learn something new and become a better photographer (I'm a terrible student, but I keep trying). I actually didn't take any pictures so have nothing to show ya. I'm back home now for a while and hope to be able to begin typing again - or at least speaking into a microphone...
August 29 - this is what happens late at night when you push the wrong button by mistake during a long exposure of the Milky Way, from the back deck...
08/31/14 Ahhhh, the last day of summer. The air was cool, still, and sweet early this morning at dawn. The eastern horizon was covered with a layer of fog, but the upper edges of that fog shone with the warm colors of the approaching sunrise. It was kind of like that all day yesterday - cool and pleasant, a very mild end to a summer that never hit 100 degrees. I know we've had a few warm days this past week or two, but nothing compared to last summer.
We had a Cloudland Moment last night - a very LOUD one! It was late, my lovely bride had retired to the loft and I was downstairs winding down. Then all of a sudden all heck broke loose - our three pups turned into attack animals, racing to the front door with hackles raised, snarling, lots of teeth, and barking at the top of their lungs. Someone was approaching the cabin, had stepped up onto the front porch, and was at the front door. NOT a good idea to arrive unannounced! We had turned off the security system since Amber was on her way home, and it turned out to be her - yet the dogs did not know that and were about to eat her for dinner!
It was GREAT to see the new pups get into attack and defend mode so quickly and with so much fierceness - I don't think we'll have issues with prowlers!
Speaking of the new pups, Mia (the tiny one) is already the same weight as Lucy, and Wilson has zoomed right on by Lucy by more than 10 pounds (35 pounds and counting), and his lanky body is nearly as large as Aspen was when full grown. Wilson is going to be a big boy.
I have begun my 40th year as a professional photographer, the only full time pro nature photographer in Arkansas all that time. I continue my quest to get better at my craft, find new ways of seeing and capturing the beautiful natural world around me - and sharing those images with you. I'm neck-deep trying to learn some new techniques - in fact so much new information to learn that at times I feel like I'm drowning in it. That's probably because I'm a slow leaner, but eventually the important stuff soaks in - it just takes me a while. Other photographers and workshop teachers are often puzzled when I sign up for classes or workshops to learn more - I am puzzled by their reaction. Why would someone not want to improve and learn more about their craft? I am basically a self-taught photographer, but there are so many other photographers that know so much more than I do, and more knowledge is good.
The picture book I am working on now will be my "40 Years Of Wilderness Photography" book, and I'll spend much of the next year shooting specifically for that book. I will try and use some of the new techniques that I trying to learn, but most of it will be the result of good old hard work and many long hours, days, and nights in the woods, swamps, and meadows of my beloved Arkansas. I have found no substitute for hard work in this business yet - kind of like most other jobs that are worth while that all of you do so well.
BOOK AND CALENDAR UPDATE. Our two new 2015 Arkansas calendars have been printed and will ship from the printers next week - we expect them to arrive here and be available sometime in early October. You can pre-order either now (wall calendar, engagement calendar), but do note that both calendars are included in our HOLIDAY SPECIAL package with the new picture book, but those won't ship until early November. That's when the new picture book is scheduled to arrive here and become available. It is being printed right now and should ship by the end of September (we still have to go through a couple approval rounds of the actual printed pages and eventually bound copies before they can ship the multi-ton container of books).
All of our new publications will be available at our slide programs this fall, and we're almost done with that schedule - we sill have a couple of dates to fill in, but you can see what we have so far here -
August has been a really good food month for me. I eat my share of ramen noodles, mac & cheese, beans & rice, and just plain old veggies. But we got to spend a couple hours feasting at "Luke and Mary's" one evening - Luke is a fine chef, and they lay out quite a spread. I mention this also because Luke and his son, Tony, are pictured in an article this month in Arkansas Living magazine (in the September issue - may not be online yet) about volunteers that built and maintain hiking trails in Arkansas. That is Luke and Tony in the front of the line on the right; also includes are The Wildman (5th in line), Ken Smith (11th), my brother, Terry (13th, next to the end - happy birthday this weekend bro!), and Mike Waggoner (on the end), along with other volunteers from the Ozark Highlands Trail Association. This photo was taken back in 1981 we first began building the Ozark Highlands Trail. Later in the article is one of my first "selfie" photos as I guess they are come to be known as these days - standing on top of White Rock Mountain viewing the terrific sunset from up there. Great magazine that is sent to all folks who are electric coop customers in Arkansas.
I've not been able to eat hamburgers the past six years do to my severe yeast allergy (can't eat the buns). But now that I am "cured" (after undergoing several weeks of NAET treatment in Springdale last winter), I have been slowly trying to add a few bits of bread to my diet, and a good old cheeseburger has been at the top of my list. Since I rarely go inside and eat at a sit-down restaurant, I'm limited mostly to drive-thru fast food. Year in and year out the very best burger that I know of is from Backyard Burger. Sadly at least half of them have closed down, but the one in Fayetteville is still open and I eat there whenever I'm in town. But this month I discovered that I could omit the fries and order a CHOCOLATE SHAKE for about the same price as a combo meal. My oh my - I do believe they have the VERY BEST real ice cream chocolate shakes on the planet too! YIPPIE!
On a related note, I bet I passed 100 or more "Steak & Shake" places during my long drive to Pennsylvania last week. I've known about them in Springfield for years but never ate at one. I finally stopped and actually went inside one on the Pennsylvania Turnpike ($28 each direction) and ordered a burger and shake. The burger was OK, but the shake was really good - almost as good as from BackYard Burger (although if given a choice, it would always be BYB every time). So far I have not gained any excess weight as a result of this chocolate shake and burger discovery yet - but I will need to be careful and not overdue it.
I'm not one of those who runs out and shouts "look at me" every time their name is mentioned somewhere, but there were two items that happened in August I should note here. First is to THANK the readers of Arkansas Times magazine - I really appreciate you making the effort to add my name to the list. And secondly it was a great honor to be involved with Neil Compton's birthday celebration at Compton Gardens - a very SPECIAL THANKS to all who attended this event, and for all of your kind words that meant a great deal to me.
And finally, I want to end August with yet another Cloudland Moment. (pay attention as this just might be the answer to a trivia question later this year when we have a few little contests for free picture books) The other morning my lovely bride and I were about to go our separate ways during the work day, when a bit of music started to fill the cabin. (our music comes from a 20-year old Bose Wave radio over there in the corner of the room) Without speaking, both of us rushed to the center of the room, embraced, and spent the next three minutes slow dancing to Shania Twain's "You've Got A Way." (Utube video) I can't dance, and so all I can do is hug my lovely bride with all my might and move ever so slowly. I always close my eyes, let the music flow over me, and feel the heartbeat of my life mate right there in my arms. Our dance was so slow that we had just made it one full revolution by the end of the song. Then a tender kiss, and went our separate ways. That simple, tearful, moment was the highlight of my month. I hope you had a moment like this too (or many more) - and if not, I highly recommend that you reach out and make one for yourselves - I know of nothing better!
September signals the beginning of fall, and I am REALLY looking forward to it this year - I plan to share a few pictures with you along the way...