CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - MARCH 2013 Journal Archives
Cloudland Cabin Cam, March 31, 7:31am - wet, rainy, and cool
JOURNAL UPDATED Sunday the 31st - HAPPY EASTER!
Print Of The Week - #13 - Hedges Hole, Buffalo River
03/01/13 It is late tonight and the ground outside is white once again - giant, fluffy, dry, snowflakes floating down ever so slowly. It has been snowing for more than two hours and the ground is just now completely covered - the giant flakes are almost see-through they are so fluffy.
It was pretty chilly throughout the day today, with the temp right at 30 degrees and a pretty stiff wind blowing. Come to think of it, where were lots of small snowflakes in that wind much of the day. Lucy and I went for a hike and did several miles of bushwhacking. Actually I did several miles - Lucy did three or four times that much since she was in constant motion, back and forth, up the hill, back down again, and on and on. That girl has so much energy! But she doesn't like to cross streams - especially on a frigid day like today. It was great to see streams flowing pretty good, clean and clear and fresh.
The forest landscape remains in its winter tones of mostly browns and grays. But the moist air and ground had helped mosses really POP with color - goodness they were so GREEN today!
The more winters I experience here, the more I love this season. Being in the woods is wonderful right now - still no bugs or snakes; the terrain is easier to traverse with the vegetation all dormant; views are much better with no leaves on the trees; and the creeks are full and playing and singing all sorts of tunes!
03/03/13 It was 22 degrees when we left early yesterday morning for a quick trip up north, but it was near 60 today when we returned - oh how I love the Ozarks in the winter! Or is it spring already? I generally consider March 1st as the beginning of spring, but it didn't look too much like it yesterday as the ground up here on the mountain was completely covered with snow and the roads snow-packed. March is typically when we get the deepest snow of the year, which won't take much this year since there hasn't been a big snow yet. This week might being some wildflowers up, so we will be on the lookout for them and will let you know when the first one arrives!
03/04/13 We've got HIGH winds here this morning that have been blowing all night. And the temp is up near 50 to begin the new week. Trees are getting ready and excited for spring and are dancing all over the place - looking forward to the amazing transformation that will turn the landscape from brown to GREEN!
We spent some time over the weekend at the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. What an incredible place that area is! My family has deep roots in St. Louis that I have noted in the Journal before, but this was the first time I returned to the art museum that my brother and I used to visit on a yearly basis. That was way back when we were kids during our annual Thanksgiving visit for the family gathering. Our aunt Ruth had custody of us while we were there, and since she was an art teacher we got to visit many art places in the city. And while I perhaps did not care too much for art way back then, the giant statue of St. Louis at the entrance to this art museum has always been a vision locked inside my head. I was THRILLED to see it again on Saturday.
Two notes about my dad. First, his dad created art that is still on display in Forest Park (and in other parts of St. Louis) - he was a sculptor in the early 1900's and made many pieces for the zoo, including terra cotta figures for the reptile house. His papers are now part of nearby Washington University, and one day I hope to go dig into them if they will allow me to. And then there was my dad, city soccer stud, and super swimmer in the 1930's. I just learned a fact about him that is related to art. While he was attending college as a swimmer in Iowa (where he broke a world record and helped create the butterfly stroke), he modeled nude for art classes to help pay his way (there were no scholarships back then). I guess that is not really surprising - he was a world-class athlete, and Olympic swimmer, so I suspect he was a perfect model for figure study. I have in some way inherited a few artistic "genes" from my granddad and aunt, but I'm hopeful I never have to remove my "jeans" the way dad did in order to make ends meet!
03/05/13 It never really warmed up today, even though it LOOKED nice and warm outside, the wind chill was probably in the 20's or below. In fact there was a strong north wind all day, gusting up towards 40mph at times. Some of those times were when my lovely bride and I went out for a hike in the afternoon - I nearly froze! We went looking for some interesting trees with character, and wandered around the top of our little part of the world for an hour or two. One thing we've been noticing is how many mature pine trees around here are very one-sided when it comes to limbs. There doesn't seem to be any reason for it, like you see out west or along coasts where prevailing winds model the limb structure.
While we were out hiking today we found the very first wildflower bloom of the year here at Cloudland. And sure enough, it was the same exact flower that has been the first to bloom every year since I've lived here - a trout lily. And it was the only flower we saw. There is something about that specific flower that makes it an early bloomer, but I don't have a clue. I wonder how long a little flower like this can live? We have daffodils in our front yard that are 100 years old or older that were transplanted from a pioneer homesite - and of course you can find lots of these hardy flowers marking where homesteads once stood, and in many cases they are the only signs that are left of the old place, and are such a sweet treat when you come upon them in the woods in the spring. But I don't know about a little wildflower. We'll keep looking for this guy each year and see how long he lasts - here is what he looked like today...
Yesterday was BEECH day, and a very warm day as well. We hiked for several hours and it got pretty warm - in fact it was near 60 with not much wind at all. And oh my goodness what a beautiful day it was! Seemed like every beech tree in the county was showing off their leaves (beech trees keep their leaves all winter, but soon the leaves will be pushed off the limbs by new growth). The leaves are all golden right now, and when backlit by bright sunshine they glow unlike anything else in the forest. I think we must have picked a beech grove to hike through because they were just everywhere!
We took Lucy down towards the river and explored around some old homesites, and then spent time at the water's edge too. And even though Lucy is not a water dog and never really warmed up to swimming, she seemed to honor her old running mate, Aspen, by jumping right into the river and splashing around like he used to do (Aspen was a genuine water dog for sure and would spend hours in the water and never stop moving or tire). Lucy has not learned how to shake water off yet - or rather when to shake - she tries to shake while she is still in the water, then runs around wet for the rest of the day (her fur is a type that does not dry quickly).
The river was lined with witchhazel bushes that were in full bloom - and that meant that the air was filled with their heavenly aroma. My oh my..... I don't know of another situation like this - where you have blooming trees in the middle of winter (in a state that has four seasons). 'Tis the best wilderness perfume for sure!
By the way, I made the first print of Wolf Falls this evening - WOW!!! There is something about the softness of the flowing water and all the hard, sharp rocks surrounding it that warms the soul and makes my spirit soar...
03/07/13 While out wandering in the woods I happened to look down at my feet and spotted a small white object. I knew immediately what it was - arrowheads just have that certain look about them. Two things that struck me about the artifact. First, where the heck did it come from? I found it while scrambling down an almost-impossible slope that was so steep I could not stand up, and had to go from tree to tree on my rear end to keep from sliding out of control. I doubt a person had taken this route in a long time, a very long time. And secondly, the stone looked clean and bright and freshly scrubbed, like it came out of an arrowhead collection. Yet there it was, just sitting right on top of the dirt and leaves of the forest, clean and sparkling. I paused for a moment and collected myself on that steep slope and looked around for a few moments - trying to imagine what it must have been like for the Native American that once roamed this wilderness and called it home. I wondered if they too had come to gaze at the interesting waterfall I was headed towards, or in pursuit of game, or a fair maiden? I love wandering around in the woods - you just never know what you are going to see. I left the artifact right there on top of the ground where I found it, and perhaps another passerby will grain some pleasure from finding it as did I...
03/10/13 The sparkle and brilliant color splashes of new wildflowers are slow to come to the High Ozarks. The lone flower we found the other day remains the only one in our part of the wilderness world - but that one little guy is still now standing tall for all to see. He curls up and goes to sleep at night, but as the first rays of sunshine arrive, he begins to open up - and then follows the sun and it moves across the sky all day, soaking up as much of that solar energy as he can. When evening approaches and the little flower's home falls into shadow, he curls up and goes to bed to await the next blast of sunshine.
I spent some time working in another area of the Ozarks yesterday - bushwhacking through some dense underbrush along a very steep and rocky south-facing hillside. And I never saw a single wildflower of any kind. Perhaps they have all been waiting for this round of rainfall that we are in the middle of right now as I'm writing this on Sunday morning - flowers LOVE rain almost as much as I do! It has been raining all night here - light rain mostly - and hopefully will continue throughout the morning. It sounds and feels like one of those long, soaking spring rains, which is exactly what the landscape needs right now. Rain today and sunshine tomorrow - and then more wildflowers!
Late in the day there was an emergency call from the search and rescue team to go locate a young man who had fallen off of a bluff in the South Fork of Whitaker Creek drainage near Haley Falls (not at Hawksbill Crag). By the time I reached the young man there were two other guys already with him who had wrapped him up in a sleeping bag and were making him as comfortable as possible. The young man was awake, but was unable to move and in a great deal of pain. The rescue team was on the way, and my job was to get the exact location relayed to them, and then to take the first wave of rescue guys down to where he had fallen (using a shortcut/bushwhack through the woods). Darkness had arrived, and a large storm front was approaching quickly.
It continues to amaze me how quickly these incredible people - most of them volunteers - drop what they are doing and literally leap into action. Before long there were 10, 20, and more folks working the rescue, all being coordinated by the master coordinator, Glenn Wheeler. They had done this routine many times before in practice and in real life, and so everything went smoothly and according to plan. Search and Rescue (SAR) members from several local SAR groups, along with Newton County Sheriff's department, forest service, park service, and emergency medical services professionals all participated. My lovely bride got to help out too. My part was over almost as soon as it began, so all I could do was hang back and watch, and try to stay out of the way.
I have not heard an official condition report of the young man, but I do know the ambulance was on its way to the hospital around 10pm last night and things were looking good for his survival. A SPECIAL THANKS again to all that helped out!
And a HEADS UP to everyone, anyone, as always, to please BE CAREFUL when you are in the woods, and ESPECIALLY when you are near a bluff!
Ahhhhh, the rains are picking up a little bit right now and that is music to my ears - come on rain! Waterfalls and wildflowers love you...
03/11/13 Are we back to winter this morning? The wind chill is down in the TEENS, and with the landscape soaked through and through from the rains yesterday there must be a bit of ice out there. Must be springtime in the Ozarks to have it warm one day and cold the next!
Yesterday was filled with glowing beech trees, more beech trees, waterfalls, waterfalls, and more WATERFALLS! It was one of the best waterfalls days for photography around here in a good long while. There are two problems with so much water though - first, running out with a camera while the waterfalls are flowing at their peak produces muddy water and pools, and those just don't really look too good. You have to let the rain stop and the water flow a little bit and the mud will filter out and the waters will become clear - and get back to the emerald pools that I so love.
The second thing is that with SO MANY great waterfalls flowing at peak levels, I always have a tough time deciding WHICH ONES to go visit! There are dozens, if not 100 or more, waterfalls within hiking distance of our cabin - one of the reasons we live where we do is because of all the waterfalls - a perfect spot for a waterfall nut.
It was tough sitting around working at the cabin yesterday and knowing there were so many great waterfalls flowing - in fact I could see several of them from my desk, pouring over the big bluffs - just taunting me. When I could not stand it any more, I loaded up my camera gear and headed out.
A third issue came up while on my way - BEECHES! Oh my goodness, with all the moisture in the air and soaking the landscape, the beech trees that held golden jewels on every branch were even more colorful than normal, and I had to stop and take pictures and admire them. That slowed my waterfall progress a bit, but also helped get the water clear up a bit.
Kind of funny though - the first waterfall that I made it to was completely surrounded by BEECH trees! So I decided to make it a beech-waterfall photo, and tried to capture some of the feeling of all the lovely beech trees with all that lovely flowing whitewater.
I spent a good part of the day working my way along and around the base of the big sandstone bluff that runs through much of the High Ozarks - that is where a lot of the larger waterfalls live. Sometimes the going is easy, while other times there is so much breakdown of giant boulders and jagged rocks along the base that you are slowed to a crawl - literally in some cases.
One spot on the bluff drew me in for a closer look, and what I found was a sheer bluff that was painted with "varnish" (that is what they call this type of stuff out west). The color streaks in the stone are caused by different minerals, and this one particular bluff had some of the most colorful and widest paint strokes of any sandstone bluff I know of. I was in such a rush to photograph waterfalls though that I didn't do a good job setting up and working this scene - in fact I only shot it with a little point-and-shoot handheld. I will return to this spot in the future and see just how lovely this varnish is.
The next waterfall was a little frustrating because the sun started to play tag with me - sunshine is not good for waterfall photography - the harsh light can destroy the delicate color and detail of waterfalls. But instead of just shining down completely, the sun ran in and out of behind the clouds, so I did get some periods of great light, but even though I spent more than an hour at this one single waterfall, I never got a photo I really liked - hum, I must return to that one some day too!
There are never enough hours in the day when waterfall are running great, but before the day ended I got to spend another hour at this neat waterfall that pours through a crack above into a wide grotto. It was pretty dark way back in the grotto, and the waterfall was back lit by the now-overcast skies, which made the waterfall simply glow with brilliant light - and the falls made an emerald pool below that was lit up a bit with the waterfall light - it was an amazing sight!
It was indeed a grand day to be out enjoying waterfalls, and I'm hopeful that many of you grabbed your waterfall guidebook and got to visit some too. We'll have lots more days like this in the weeks and months to come, so keep that guidebook handy!
Oh yes, remember that little arrowhead I found sitting right on top of the ground the other day? I came past it yesterday and was careful to watch for it. And guess what - it had MOVED! Looked like the was go to heavy coming off of the slope that it pushed the arrowhead on down the slope a few feet. I just might have to keep my eye on this little jewel and see where life takes it...
03/14/13 A little while after sunset last night I stood at the edge of the wilderness in silence, listening to the hushed roar of the Buffalo River drifting up from far below. A lone coyote cried out from across the way. Then another joined him in a mournful wail. Soon the music got a lot more lively, and it sounded like the entire bluffline over there was lined with coyotes - an entire coyote symphony going on! It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps they were reacting to something going on, and so I turned around to look, and found that the entire western skyline was glowing purple. I really do believe that wild animals enjoy great natural beauty as we do, and I thanked them for pointing out the gorgeous view I had been missing.
A couple of other wildlife notes. There has only been one trumpeter swan in the Mill Pond in Boxley for a while, but last week the other swan landed and they two have been back together again ever since. I don't think they are mates in the American sense, but perhaps they are in the British sense (as in just buddies and not married).
Also in Boxley, we've been seeing a LOT more bull elk than usual - in fact a ranger pointed out to me the other day that she had seen 16 bulls in a single herd. The other night while coming home late from a class in town I came upon four or five bull elk that were half way up the big Cave Mountain hill - the largest ones spend the summer up here on the mountain, but that usually happens after they have shed their antlers in the spring, which has not happened yet.
After many requests from folks, I went out to photograph the comet the other night. I found a perfect vantage point looking west, and wandered around a bit after sunset, enjoying the beautiful colors of the evening sky. I had to keep moving to stay warm because the wind was really high, which brought the wind chill down into the 20s or lower - it was pretty darn cold. I hung around long after the time had come and gone to see the comet, and though I looked and looked and looked, I never saw it. Hum, I must have missed it somehow. But just in case, I took a series of photographs of the western skyline and sky. I never bothered to look at them until just this morning - and son of a guyn there it was, a comet right in the middle of my pictures! Contrary to what the hyped-up media reports were, the comet was/is little more than a tiny dot in the sky, and even with a significant telephoto lens, it is only a little larger dot in the sky. Telescope viewers certainly have a much better view, but I'm not one of those. I got a little exercise out there in the frigid winds so I guess my time was well spent! Oh, and I guess the coyotes have been enjoying the comet - that is probably what they were howling at last night...
03/16/13 I raced a caterpillar yesterday, and I think he won. It was during a three-mile quick hike out to get the mail, and I saw this little guy crawling along the ground - he was one of those big black fuzzy ones, and seemed to be getting along at a pretty good clip. Is it too early for caterpillars? On my way back I looked and looked for him but did not see him - but then I spotted him far up the hill - in relative terms he had traveled about ten miles in the time it took me to go about two miles!
Later in the day I got the feeling that we might have come color for sunset - the clouds around the sun just kind of looked that way. So I packed up the camera gear and headed out, hoping to find an interesting group of trees to include with a colorful sky. I wound up on a friend's pasture that is far and wide, sweeping deep down the hillside and up the opposite side of a small drainage. I hiked and hiked and hiked, up and down, side to side. The wind was blowing 30-40mph or more - I had to hold onto my hat! Thank goodness it was warm (nearly 70 degrees).
The meadow had been mowed down to nearly bare earth, and just this week had taken on a green glow of fresh new grass and other plants. One of those species was the TINY "bluet" wildflower (only about 1/4" wide) - there were scattered patches of them all along the hillside. As I leaned into the stiff wind I was closer to the ground and loved watching these little guys - since they were so short, they hardly twitched at all in the wind. It all kind of reminded me of a high meadow in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming - the little flowers grow close to the ground up there too, and hold on tight when the winds blow.
The trees I wanted to photograph did not look too good, so I continued to hike around hunting the perfect composition. The sun dropped and indeed some nice color began, but it wasn't until later - after sunset - that I found the perfect tree. It was a lone oak out in the middle of the meadow, standing tall against the wind with a lot of character. I just LOVE the look of naked trees! This guy was leaning a little bit, and as the clouds moved around I found out why - he was pointing right up at a glowing crescent moon. By that time, the color of the sky was moving quickly, mixing blues and reds - which made purple. The image I saw through the camera's viewfinder was just lovely, and so I spent the next 20 minutes running around like crazy trying different compositions from all sides of the tree, changing the exposure, and hoping I could get a good one with the tree in sharp focus - the high winds were moving the tree branches around a bit.
Later on while driving back to the cabin, I noticed the western horizon started to glow, so I pulled over and ran out into the middle of another field and spent a bit of time taking pictures of that last glow of color, with an old crumbling barn in the foreground. By the time I had finished, I realized as I tried to pack everything up that I had spread out on the ground that it was almost completely DARK! My eyes had been so focused, straining to see even the faintest bit of color on the horizon, that I did not realized the rest of the world had done black. It took me a while to find my way back to the car, and let me tell ya, I heard all sorts of weird critter noises along the way! I'm sure most of them were just coyotes wailing in the night, but the mind also tends to invent some interesting things too...
03/17/13 (long post - sorry Ken!) Cool and breezy this morning before daylight, no rain overnight, but they are calling for rain today - hope we get an inch or two. It was bright and sunny most of the day yesterday, with clouds rolling in by mid-afternoon - I prefer cloudy days for taking pictures, so I worked all day at the cabin and then headed out into that beautiful soft afternoon light.
My first stop was to visit some old friends, a group of bloodroot wildflowers that had just started blooming. I went around and greeted each one that was growing along a narrow bench in the middle of the very steep hillside that falls off from Cave Mountain down into Boxley Valley. These flowers were just starting to bloom, and seemed a little hesitant to do so - many were still curled up a bit and not fully opened up - and when talking with them they said they were worried about the chilly rainfall that was headed our way. I understood.
But I found one that was fully open and beaming with the beautiful pure white that I so love the bloodroot for - it is the purest white of any wildflower that I know. I sat down beside her and talked a little bit, then set up my camera gear and tried to get her best angle. There was a slight breeze blowing and she insisted on dancing to the music of the wind - ladies do like to dance! I was patient and bopped right along with her for a while, but then quickly recomposed and refocused, then snapped the shutter during a lull in the windy tunes. THANKS MA'AM!
FYI, these are called "bloodroot" because the roots contain a BLOOD-RED liquid (note - it is illegal to dig up any wildflower on public land so please take my word for it and don't see for yourself). This was used by the Indians for various things - it is a really cool color of red, but of course kills that individual flower forever. Bloodroot is a perfect descriptive name for this beautiful little wildflower.
My lovely bride always rolls her eyes when I speak of taking a "shortcut" - either driving or hiking. It's a guy thing I guess. I knew my proposed route was a lot shorter, with virtually no climbing, vs. a longer route that climbs a big hill twice (once going in, once coming back out). I was a much curious as to the terrain of the more direct route than needing an easier way, so I loaded up my big camera pack and headed out.
The first 2/3rds of the hike were a piece of cake, chocolate cake. The last 1/3 was more like trying to hike across the vertical sides of the Grand Canyon without a trail. There were four parts to this short section that I found amusing, and also a female dog. I found myself literally clinging to the side of the hillside, a hillside so steep that it really should have been a bluff if not for the fact it was still covered with dirt and dead leaves, and a very few small trees that were just there for laughs. It was so steep that I could not stand up, nor could I proceed safely. So I went through a series of moves while sitting on my rump where I had to dig out little spots in the hillside dirt either with my boot or sometimes with my sharp tripod legs. Then inch my way across until I could get my balance and try for another little dig. It was one of those situations where I could not go back, I had to proceed. But it was so silly - I probably would not fall to my death if I slipped - we're not talking about a long drop - but it would be quite uncomfortable if I slipped and my and my camera equipment would probably end up in the Buffalo River, which was at the bottom of this little steep side hill.
Anyway, I was able to make it safely across that spot and down towards the river where I needed to be, but there were many anxious moments. And while this little part of my shortcut had already taken me far longer than it would have if I had simply taken the normal route, I was glad to have done it - otherwise I would have always wondered about the shortcut.
OK, so I was finally down on safe ground, but needed to drop down to the riverbank and get my hat - it had fallen off during my trip across the slope - I watched it tumble all the way down and come to rest just inches from the water's edge. Just as I approached my hat, one of my boots caught a branch and scooted it forward just enough to catch the hat and send it into the river - YIKES, my hat was floating away! I got my boots a little wet going after it, but it is MY HAT after all and I really did not want to loose it!
So I started to make the last few hundred yards of the trip along an "easy" part of mostly-level but quite rocky ground along the river when after only two or three steps I somehow flipped a tiny branch right into one of my eyes. There was a moment or two of intense pain - it doesn't take much when the naked eyeball is concerned. Some of you may recall many years ago when I used to hike extensively at night through the dense forest on moonless nights without flashlight, and I experimented with differently types of eye wear that would protect my eyes but still allow me to move through the woods without fear of such things happening. I made it through all of that without injury, but the forest slapped back at me a little yesterday.
I continued on while holding one hand over my eye, but didn't go more than 100 feet before I found just a wonderful set of whitewater rapids that were glowing in the evening light. I climbed up on top of two or three giant boulders that sat next to the rapids, and spent the next 20 minutes taking pictures - I only use one eye when I shoot anyway, so having one all red and tearing up was no big deal - the other one worked just fine and I got a nice photograph.
Back down from the boulders, and on my way - I was almost to my destination. But wait, that stick did not look quite right that I was about to land on - it was a COTTONMOUTH! I had a conversation with myself just before leaving the cabin if I should wear my snake gaiters or not - but for crying out loud, it is the middle of March and snakes are not out yet. Oops, no one told this guy. And had I not been carefully placing every single step I would have come down right on top of him and he would have nailed me. Not fun. Turns out he was not a happy snake, and we exchanged words, and when I left he was not a happy camper. I would recommend other folks not follow in my footsteps along this route.
So when I finally got to the spot along the river that I had been aiming for, the light was glorious and the pools of water and giant boulders sitting in them were wonderful. I spent the next hour or two taking pictures, running up and down the river bank to get different compositions. And at one point I plunged in and waded out into the middle because - well, because the sun started to break through the clouds and the light was just magical, and I needed to be out in the middle to get the picture. And so I did.
The entire area was covered up with blooming witchhazel bushes, and the air was thick with their aroma - my OH MY!!!
So the sun had gone down and while I was planning to simply hike the upper route to get back to the trailhead (the normal way), I decided at the last minute to try an alternate "short cut" to get back. This one turned out to be really easy and completely level the entire way, and only took me about 15 minutes vs. an hour or more for my previous "short cut." The only problem was that I had to wade the Buffalo River, twice, and would not be something I should do when the water was much higher. Wet boots and cloths are the norm for me so what the heck. It was a beautiful hike back, and I was glad this shortcut worked out.
One other kind of amusing note. Later in the evening when I was back home working at the computer, a wasp landed on the back of my neck. I don't get along with wasps. My instant reaction was to swiftly raise my hand and flick him off, hoping not to get stung in the process. The only problem was that while doing this, my hand caught my reading glasses strap and flipped my glasses (which I was not wearing at the time) up into my face, and you guessed it - part of the strap slapped my naked eyeball - the very same eyeball that had been injured by the little branch - DOUBLE OUCH!!!
March 20 - HAPPY 12th ANNIVERSARY MY LOVE! (only 38 more to go - I can't wait!!!)Who would have thunk that I would ever find someone who fills every moment of my life with joy - and continues to put up with me! The photo above is of my lovely bride and her other boyfriend, Aspen, one year ago - Aspen helped catch and land a monster catfish moments later. .
03/21/13 I have a confession to make. Actually two of them. First, I left the cabin at 4am this morning and fled the approaching winter weather. I'm now sitting at the edge of a beautiful lush, green swamp - sorry to have left behind ice and sleet and snow - you know I LOVE that stuff, but business called and I had to head for the swamp. It is supposed to be 78 here tomorrow. The caretaker at the cabin said it was sleeting this afternoon at Cloudland, but didn't say anything about snow on the ground.
And the other item - I just sat down on the banks of that little creek/bayou that is pictured and ate an entire bag of the best 'tater chips I've ever eaten - "Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips Original." The entire bag. I don't like their other chips, this this flavor is evil. (I also had a salad if that helps.)
03/25/13 It is late tonight, clouds are breaking up, and a nearly-full moon is sending bright light across the wilderness. The temps are down in the 20s, and while it is a bit nippy outside, there is no wind so the temp is actually a lot warmer than it was at midnight last night when I got home from a long trip. It has been spitting snow most of today, and right at dark the snow began to come down heavy for a little while, covering the ground and our little log cabin in the woods.
My lovely bride and I have spent the past several hours tearing down the inside panels over in the gallery, and then reassembling them to fit into a smaller room that we will set a mobile gallery up in on April 6th. We'll be participating in the Wine & Roses charity event at the Reynolds Cancer Support House in Ft. Smith. This has been a major undertaking for us - not only to deal with all of the big black panels and lighting, but also to prepare and transport ten special prints that will be part of the silent auction for the event (and pay for them - YIKES!). We will have some of our normal gallery-wrapped canvas prints available, but also several canvas prints that have been mounted on board and placed in very expensive (and heavy) gold frames. PLUS we'll have three of our incredible metal prints, up to 40" x 60"! And my, oh my, this little room of shimmering gold and metal and ARKANSAS COLOR will knock your socks off! We don't normally do this sort of thing, but the cause is so special, and we are honored to be included in the list of very talented artists that will be represented at the event. One funny note - this is a formal black-tie event, but I just had to laugh - I don't even own a tie, especially a black one. I have been told that I'm "exempt" and can wear whatever I like. I do plan to wear shoes.
Speaking of my lovely bride, she took our daughter and some friends down to the Gulf Coast this past week for their annual spring break trip, and so Lucy and I have been batching it alone. But then I had to head south for a few days and left Lucy with Pam's mom and our cabin caretaker. Then Pam got home late Saturday night, but I was still gone - it has been musical masters for Lucy this week! I spent a few days in the swamps of southern Louisiana, complete with flowering grapefruit and orange trees, azaleas, and well, everything was in bloom - it was quite lush! But when I stepped out of the van last night I got hit with a below-zero wind chill - welcome home!
03/27/13 A little while after dark this evening, just as I was getting ready to step into the shower, my lovely bride called out "Tim, Tim - look at the moon, THE MOON!!!" It was about as deep orange as I'd ever seen it, and HUGE! I put on a pair of loafers, flew out the door, and sprinted across the compound to get my camera gear. Half of the moon was still below the horizon, but it was moving up fast. It takes me a little extra time to deploy camera gear from here due to all of the break-ins lately in Newton County - everything is hidden away and locked up tight. When I reappeared outside with the camera gear, the moon was fully above the horizon and looking quite spectacular. But just as I started to set up the tripod and camera, the very top of the moon rose into a cloud bank, with the rest of the moon quickly following. The amazing BRILLIANT ORANGE moon was no more. But there was indeed still a full moon visible - I was out in the middle of the driveway with my camera, tripod, cable release, loafers, and nothing else - nekkid as a jaybird! I hope some of you got to witness the incredible moonrise tonight (the orange one that is).
03/30/13 Spring has not arrived yet up here in the High Ozarks. In fact the landscape looks more like February than almost-April with most trees completely bare with not hints of budding. But I did see a few popcorn trees beginning to pop along the southern edges of the Ozarks, and I expect we'll have popcorn and wild plum trees bursting out up here later this week. Then we can expect a quick progression of advancing greens as spring takes hold. Right now is the BEST time to get out and enjoy the High Ozarks while the views are still open - soon you won't be able to see the forest for the trees! Water is plentiful, and now it takes less and less rainfall to keep waterfalls flowing since the water tables seem to be up and the land more saturated. Of course, once the landscape is fully leafed out, it will take more and more rainfall to keep things flowing - so my advice is to begin daily rain dances and keep them up until May!
We've been on the road a lot this past few weeks, but are home now for a while as we prepare for the upcoming Wind & Roses event next Saturday in Ft. Smith. Our work van has been in almost constant use - I have no idea how we ever got along without that thing - more than 20,000 in just the past few months (18,000 miles last year in our previous work van). It makes for the perfect photo field vehicle since I can carry everything with me, including all of my electronic gear. We've also been hauling big loads of cases of books, large frames, and other supplies and equipment that would normally either not have fit in our regular vehicles, or would have taken multiple trips. March has been cold but a terrific month - we hope APRIL will be just magical for you!
03/31/13 It is cool and breezy early this morning just before first light. There are heavy clouds above, and wispy ones in the canyon below - when I first got up it was a sea of clouds covering the canyon, but now they have already begun to dissipate, headed off to parts unknown. I suspect by daylight they may have all vanished.
One of our popcorn trees is just beginning to show the slightest hint of white this morning - hum, perhaps spring will finally arrive this week.
It is also quite LOUD outside - the QUIET of the wilderness had drifted away with the sea of fog. The river itself is about as loud as I've heard it in a very long while - the foreground, middle ground, and background noise is all from the music of the river. But right along in there somewhere I can hear dozens of different birds singing out as loud as they can - probably to be heard over the road of the river. And then the notes that can be heard even when inside the cabin with all doors and windows closed tight - PEEPERS! In fact they've been peeing all night I supposed. They LOVE wet weather! As do I. Oh yes, and while they are not really making any noise that I could detect, there are also a few bunny rabbits hopping around out there - it is Easter after all, so HAPPY EASTER!
NOTE - today is the LAST DAY to order the current Print Of The Week - this photo of the Buffalo River at Hedges Hole when that magical evening light happened is perhaps the best "winter" photo I've ever taken, and it is on SALE until tomorrow!