CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - MAY 2017
Cloudland Cabin Cam, May 31 - the last few minutes of daylight in May from the back deck at Cloudland...
05/29/17 I'd been watchin' these yellow bits of light develop along the road across from our new mailbox. Watching as in looking out the window as I drove past. It wasn't until I got down on my hands and knees to have a close look that I confirmed what I'd been seeing - a beautiful yellow wildflower, and I just had to get it into my camera! Prairie sundrops is such a great name for these - although I tend to call them woodland sundrops since these were in the forest and not in an open area. Each one is a drop of pure sushine! Took me a couple of hours to get a good picture, with sweat, bugs, and breezes getting in the way and all.
Macro photos have always fascinated me, but for some reason they don't sell well, at least mine don't. I love to take them and folks love to see them, so I suspect you'll be seeing more of them here. Wildflowers come in color waves in the Ozarks, and right now we're in the second yellow phase. Bring on the YELLOW! I've seen a few red and purple ones too. Most of the landscape here is green, so it is always terrific to see other bits of color.
05/25/17 Late last night I went out onto the back deck to check on a building sea of fog in the canyon below, and was greeted with a sparkling clear night sky that had been swept clean by the passing cold front that dropped a bit of rain (which produced the sea of fog). As I stood there letting my eyes adjust to the darkness (no moon so it was really dark), I saw a burst of orange light above the eastern horizon. Then another burst. And another. And another. The bursts only lasted a second or so, and cme from the same part of the sky. What the heck? Certainly not shooting stars - not that color. Probably flares of some sort.
We are right next to a Military Operations Airspace and frequently see jets during the day flying low - sometimes below the cabin and below the tree line down in the canyon. But we've never seen anything quite like this at night. I spent the next twenty minutes watching a dozen or more jets performing some amazing aerobatics - at times they seemed to stand still for a moment, then dart off in another direction. And there were more flares - which I'm told they drop as a counter-measure to heat-seeking missiles (thanks Randy!). No doubt it was just a normal military training exercise, but it sure did get the folks down here at Cloudland excited for a little while!
Here is a crop of the photo I took - the straight streaks are star trails, but if you look close you can see the wing lights of the jet flying straight across the frame - and then the four bursts of orange flares that were shot out of the jet. And the photo below is the one I wanted to shoot with the fog and star trails...
05/24/17 Kind of cool this morning - great weather for jeans and flannel shirt for a morning stroll! The wilderness is normally quite serene early in the morning, but today it was LOUD! Yesterday I saw the first indigo bunting fly through the yard, and now he is up at the crack of dawn, sitting on a naked trig, and screaming at the top of his lungs! Actually he is producing some pretty nice music to wake up to - a wilderness rooster of sorts.
THANKS to everyone who attended the opening reception for Pam's "En Plein Air" pastel show at the Ft. Smith library on Sunday. It was great to meet new friends and speak with old ones (and young ones too!). One thing I noticed was the fact so many folks took the time to not only look at her beautiful art, but also read the little stories Pam had written and attached to each piece - to me those are an extension of her heart and soul that she poured into making each pastel. I would LOVE to be able to do this with my prints on display, but I've tried and failed many times. Also it was great to see so many folks taking the time to actually speak with each other, even though strangers. It was a terrific event to gather and converse. Her show will be up until the end of June, so pop in any time and spend a few minutes. By the end of the show there were already five pastels sold - YIPPIE for my bride! SAK! (she's a keeper)
We saw a facebook post showing the poppy field in Bella Vista in full bloom the other day, so I packed up my camera gear and make a quick trip (2.5-hour drive each way) in hopes of finding great light - but the photo must have been from last year since I only found a few lonely poppies (AKA - I never found the right spot!). Looks like it will be another week or two or three before this field is in full bloom again.
While in Bella Vista I spent some time on "The Back 40" section of a sprawling hike/bike trail that winds through the community there. One spot in particular drew my attention - a new trail bridge across the creek below the spillway of Lake Ann. I don't take too many human structure photos, but I do LOVE trail bridges and found this one to be especially scenic - both from the bridge itself and also from below. 'Tis a great little stretch of trail for those in the BV area - THANKS to the community and mountain bike groups and others (Walton Family Foundation for one) for continuing to support this expanding trail system!
We've heard more comments from people who were told by someone in Harrison recently about how much we had sold Cloudland for. Huh? We have NOT sold Cloudland for any amount, so all of these rumors are simply not true. I told my lovely bride the other day that if we had a dollar for every time someone told us we had sold Cloudland we would be rich and would not have to sell Cloudland, ha, ha! We have been working with a potential buyer for several months, but the deal has not closed so there is no sale yet. I will post a note here in the Journal on the very day we do sell Cloudland, until then anything you might here would be false (and please tell this person so!).
Here's a snap of our Trail Cat yesterday, hanging out in a large box lid on the front deck - I think she is wondering when her brother, the Box Kitty, will be coming home...
OK, ok, Mr. Bunting seems to be getting louder and is now requesting my attention so I'll round up the pups and head out into the woods to wander around and see what he wants...HAPPY DAY TO YOU!
05/20/17 We've had a LOT more rain this past couple of days than predicted, and it continues to rain this morning and on into the day. Should be a spectacular weekend for waterfall hunters! We awoke several times during the night to "growling" skies and then a CRACK of thunder. Hey, it must be May in Arkansas, which is the wettest month of the year here. If you are waterfalling or floating or even driving, be CAREFUL and don't cross flooded water. We'll probably be seeing many photos of flooded falls and creeks and roads. I'll be indoors all weekend so will only be able to sit back and watch. Hope everyone has a great time!
Yesterday morning my lovely bride and I headed off to different locations after a night of more growling skies and rainfall. When we reached the end of Cave Mtn. Road down in Boxley we discovered that a big tree had fallen across the road at the very bottom of the hill next to the highway and blocked the way. It took us about 30 minutes to cut out enough limbs so that we could drive around (via the ditch) and be on our way. Pam called in the tree to the sheriff's dept. and they found someone to come out with a chain saw to clear the tree - THANKS to whoever did this!
We realized that a car we found parked on the other side of the tree belonged to a pair of young ladies from Missouri we had seen hiking along the road up near our place. Turns out when they were blocked by the tree they hiked all the way to the Hawksbill Crag Trailhead (6 miles), then out to the Crag and back (3 miles), then all the way back to their car in Boxley (another 6 miles). They seemed happy and healthy but probably a bit tuckered after this 15-mile hike to the Crag! Way to go girls!!! (sorry about the tree)
TODAY I'll have the canvas gallery open from 10-3 if you happen to be in the area. And TOMORROW will be the opening reception for Pam's "En Plein Air" pastel show at the Ft. Smith Library - Pam will be there from 2-4pm to meet and greet and talk about pastels and plein air painting - AND there will be cookies! (Pam's mom normally bakes a ton of homemade cookies for our events, but she fell and broke her wrist the other day so Pam and Amber will take over - along with grandma's supervision - this morning and bake up a storm - so there WILL BE COOKIES at Pam's reception tomorrow we hope!)
05/17/17 We had a Cloudland moment this evening. My lovely bride called me out onto the back deck to see the many puffy clouds and thunderheads that were building up and marching across above the landscape spread out before us. They were beginning to glow from the setting sun - it was a magnificent sight! Then a GIANT red-tailed hawk came into view - he came up from the canyon below, riding the wind currents, and turning in a large circle as he soared higher. All he had to do was bank his body and wings up a bit and up he would go. Just as he cleared the treetops out there and banked to his left, he rose up into the setting sunshine and his body LIT up an amazing shade of GOLD! As he continued to circle and rise he would light up again and again - up, UP, and away he went, until he disappeared into the clouds. It this weren't Cloudland it could easily be Hawkland - there are so many and they perform lots of acrobatic shows for us. We no longer have TV here, yet the view is an ever-changing 3D movie of the grandest kind...
Shhh, don't tell anyone, but Pam created a new pastel today - the largest she has ever done (16x20). And she's going to add it to the Ft. Smith show in time for the reception on Sunday, and it will remain with the show until the end. It's a scene from Colorado last fall, which was one of the most spectacular displays in the past 20 years there. Here are her notes:
"Sometimes when you are standing in the midst of an Aspen Grove in all its fall color and you take a deep breath it feels like you are breathing in the color yellow. I know, it sounds weird but you should try it and you will know what I am talking about. This is on the easel today and takes me back to a cool brisk autumn day spent with friends just wandering around under the golden canopy, breathing in yellow....."
05/16/17 It was 19 years ago when I began to write - HAPPY 19th BIRTHDAY CLOUDLAND JOURNAL!!! Here is part of that first post...
CLOUDLAND JOURNAL MAY 1998
5/16/98 This is the first entry in this journal, and the first day of its life. As Cloudland ages, it is my hope that this journal will grow and fatten, and become a record and a reflection of life here at Cloudland (there is a hard copy at the cabin for everyone to write in, and includes all of this text). While I plan to write something in it most every day that I am here, I encourage everyone who visits Cloudland to jot down notes, record their visit, sketch, leave pictures (or send them later), or whatever. Many folks won't want to write, but even a name and date would be nice. Anything of interest that happens, or is seen or even felt should be recorded here. Once the weather station is installed, we'll have a running log of that information from year to year. Birds. Wildlife. Strange visitors. Great Food. I'll leave it up to you.
It has taken nearly a year to get this journal started. A journal and guest register have been on my list all that time, but it was my girlfriend that finally bought one, gave it to me for my birthday, and said to use it, NOW. Thanks! This journal will be more than just a record of life at Cloudland. It will also be the basis of my next book project - CLOUDLAND, A YEAR IN THE WILDERNESS - and will serve as the official record of dates and facts, and the place for my notes. Most names will not be changed to protect the innocent. And finally, this journal will be uploaded, along with a few selected pictures, to the official Cloudland Home Page on the world wide web for all to see and read.
So take a few minutes during your visit here at Cloudland to read through this journal, add to it, and enjoy.
The sun rose into a clear sky early this morning, the first blue in a while. It has been hazy and cloudy all week from the Mexican forest fire smoke, and rather warm. A cool front swept away the smoke, and temps were in the 50's. Ever since I built this cabin, I have vowed to explore a new place in the wilderness from Cloudland each month. Today will be my first such venture. I have a lot of catching up to do! The bluff across Whitaker Creek is where I will head, and take a picture of the cabin, just to see and show what it looks like from over there.
I left my trusted guard dog Stable behind to guard the cabin, and headed down the old historical trail to the river with water, "extractor," (snake bite kit) and camera in my daypack, and wearing long pants and shirt (welcome attire in the summer jungle). I took the Ladder Trail down to Whitaker Creek - the underbrush was REALLY grown up already. (The "Ladder Trail" is the historical trail that connected the mouth of Whitaker Creek to the Cave Mountain Church and schoolhouse. Folks in the area along the Buffalo River used it quite often way back when. It takes its name from the fact that a ladder is required to make it up/down through the bluffline, which breaks down to only about 12' tall where the trail comes to it, which is right near my property. Above the ladder, the trail crosses my property on its way to the church. When I bought the property in 1992, the old ladder had rotted away, so I replaced it with a new one, which is still in use.) The sun was still low, and barely made it through the trees. It was rather dark. I was surprised at how much water there was flowing in Whitaker Creek. From up on the back deck at Cloudland, the wind was still and I could hear the Buffalo talking loudly before the trip down, so I guess there was more water everywhere than I had thought. It was good to see all that water.
I crossed through two rock walls that were lining what was probably an old field on the other side of the creek. An old road trace left the area going uphill, so I followed it. Bill McNamara had always told me that there were wagon wheel grooves cut into the bluffs above, but other locals have said that there is no such road between here and Lovell Hollow, far upstream. Sure enough, the road headed UP the hillside, even switchbacking at one point, and I had high hopes. About 2/3's or the way up to the bluff, the road landed on a level bench next to a large boulder, and disappeared. I didn't spend any time searching further, but headed straight up the steep hillside to the base of the bluff. It was an impressive bluffline, much larger than I had expected. Damn, how was I going to find a way up through it?
I turned to the right and followed the bluff around the point, then headed up the Whitaker drainage. The trees were so full and thick that I really couldn't see out much. A squirrel up ahead jumped from his tree onto the bluff, then ran up the face of the bluff and out of sight. He was actually showing me a way up, and I thanked him. The bluff was broken up some, and there wee dozens of Ozark Columbine wildflowers growing on the face - about the best patch that I had ever seen! After a bit of a struggle, I made my way up through the broken bluff and onto the top. There were no really open views, but I did manage to snap a picture through the trees of the cabin and Buffalo Valley beyond.
Then I spotted a small but brilliantly-colored tree with red leaves. I had seen this very tree last week through the telescope. It really stuck out with all of the green trees around it. Don't know why it turned red. I grabbed a leaf to make an ID, but I think it was a Serviceberry.
I made my way around to the point overlooking the Buffalo. It is quite a stunning view, and you can see both up and down the valley, although the view would be much better during leaf-off. This is a great spot to sit and welcome the sunrise, as I imaging Ozark pioneers and Indians have done in the past. There were a bunch of firepink wildflowers right there that must see the sunrise every day.
I turned around and made my way up the Whitaker drainage, still along the top of the bluffline. At one point, it looked like there was going to be another way down. As I scrambled down the steep incline, the land came to an abrupt end - it was another 30'-40' drop. It looked like a waterfall area when there was a lot of runoff. Peering over the edge, I was greeted with an umbrella magnolia tree, growing up towards me. It was covered with PERFECT blossoms! The huge leaves formed a round backdrop to the flowers, which were all the way open and laying flat on the leaves. I thought about these trees for a moment, and decided that they must seek out scenic areas to live, and only those in the most scenic locations, like this one, are allowed to blossom.
As I continued along the bluff, it finally broke up again and I found a way down. Under the bluff near there was an overhang guarding a sea of what looked to me like some sort of sorrel. I took a snapshot and hope to ID them later. They had tiny pink flowers.
On the way down the steep hillside, I made two decisions. One was that I would spend a great deal of time exploring this wonderful wilderness during the next year, make an effort to keep notes, and then put it all into a book. I don't really need an excuse to be in the woods anymore, but what the hell. And I decided that I would also make an effort to try to learn how to sketch. A pencil and pad are a lot lighter than a lot of bulky camera gear, not dependant on good light, and easier to put into a book if any are usable. Of course, a sketch takes a lot longer to produce!
Before long I landed back at Whitaker Creek, and stuck my head under - cold creek water is such a wonderful thing when you are hot and sweaty! I headed straight up the hillside, and soon found myself back at the ladder. A shooting star, one of the last of a very good season for them, met me at the top of the ladder. As I looked up, I could see spiderworts dotting the hillside, all lit up by the still early morning sun.
It was a great first hike, but I was glad to get back to Cloudland, take off my boots, sit back in the swing, and gaze across my kingdom...
OK, back to 2017...
05/15/17 Up early today, and after an hour of chores to secure the electric fence at the campsite before I could leave, I packed up and headed EAST, back home. Took me 16 hours of rough driving in difficult winds across the plains of New Mexico and Oklahoma, but it was worth it to be back home - YIPPIE!
05/14/17 We spent several hours Friday traveling to Ft. Smith to set up Pam's pastel show at the library. The show doesn't officially open until tomorrow, but there were several folks around while we sorted out and hung the pastels (they were looking at books for goodness sakes!), and there was a WOW or two. There are 19 framed pastels in the show (maybe 20 if she gets a new one done this week), including plein air ones she did in Colorado, Utah, the Texas Coast, and of course Arkansas. Most are from Arkansas, including several she did in the past month, and most were created right there outdoors in person, "en plein air" as the French call it. There are also a couple of studio pastels that were done in her "nest" studio at Cloudland, using photographs as reference.
The prices for Pam's original pastels in the show range from $250 to $400, which includes the frame and MUSEUM glass, which costs way more than the frames! (this is special glass that is practically invisible) The prices are fixed for this current show, but when the show ends the price of all her works will increase - they will increase by a small amount each time a piece is sold, although we will treat a show like this as a single event, so all the prices will remain the same during the show. This guarantees that your special pastel you purchase from Pam will always increase in value!
I don't really understand how a person can create art from nothing - yet I've sat in the shadows and watched my lovely bride go from a blank pastel panel to a completed piece in an hour - just simply amazing! I've tried to paint and I can't, gave up after a year of nothing. Photography is EASY compared to creating real art like she does!
Anyway, her show will run until the end of June at the Ft. Smith Library and I hope you can go by and have a look if you are in the area. The opening reception will be this coming Sunday, May 21st, from 2-4pm. Her work is really quite good - in fact you might even hear WOW a time or two! Oh yes, and by the time we got home Friday night one of her pastels had already been SOLD! That's my lovely bride!!!
You can see many of her pastels and get more info at PamsPastels.com. I think she's a keeper...
Saturday morning I got up at 3am and stood on the back deck of our cabin awestruck by how the moon light up a sea of clouds spread out before me. It was a Cloudland Moment if I ever saw one! Unfortunately, I LEFT the building soon after and drove 16 hours to our campsite in Colorado. Pam tells me the sunrise after I left was unbelievable! And I missed it. Shucks.......
So I drove to Colorado yesterday (about 900 miles) and passed by many snow-capped mountains with blue sky and puffy white clouds (photo below is a snapshot out the window along the way). I was one tired puppy when I pulled into our little hillside plot right at sunset. I had to chase away about two dozen elk that were standing around and pooping in the meadow below. Actually that was kind of the reason for my trip - at least related.
Our little hillside campsite is located inside a 1500-acre parcel where they have free-range cattle grazing in the summer (they live somewhere else during the rest of the year). These cows poop a LOT, and I needed to get an electric fence set up around our little area to keep the cows from pooping on our pad! (Elk poop is actually just fine - nice dry pellets - but cow poop - well, if you've ever stepped in it you know!) So that is what I did today, and it took me about 11 hours to get everything set up and turned on. The cows arrive about the first of June, but we probably won't be here to camp until sometime in July so I needed to get the wire fence set up before the cows got here.
Our campsite is located at 9,300' elevation on a steep hillside that was in the middle of a 10,000-acre wildfire in 2002 - it burned nearly everything to the ground. It took a few years, but baby aspen trees began to sprout on our hillside, and now they are teenagers and some up to 15' tall. The aspens are already leafing out a brilliant fresh GREEN. Today was bright and sunny with temps from the 30's to the 70's - felt FRIGID when the wind blew, and HOT when it didn't.
I got up early this morning but ran into trouble right away. We have a little Keurig coffee maker and I brought liquid coffeemate and coffee, but NO CUP - I could not find a cup of any description anywhere! But I did find a measuring cup, and had an empty glass Starbucks mocha bottle that I dug out of the trash can in the van. The bottle would not fit in the Keurig, but the measuring cup would. So I made coffee in the measuring cup, then poured it into the mocha bottle, then poured in a little (lot) of French vanilla coffeemate and swirled it all round - BEST cup of coffeemate I've ever had!
Here's a snapshot of sunset from our campsite tonight.
There are a gazillion stars out tonight and I think I'm gonna go wander around the hillside a bit before I crawl into the back of the van. I'll be up early tomorrow, back on the road again and headed home to Cloudland to my lovely artist bride.....
05/12/17 I awoke to lovely rainfall on our metal roof early this morning. Most everyone else is tired of rain, but with major spring growth in full speed going on right now, waterfalls have dropped dramatically in the past week, and we do need more rainfall to perk them up a bit - especially up here in the mountains. Of course, there is way too much water and terrible destruction far downstream, and we pray for those who have had such bad flooding issues. We're hopeful that this current rain provides great waterfalls, then disappears into the ground and hides until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.
A week ago I took advantage of a day of rain and headed out to find some waterfalls to photograph. I've been working on a new picture book of beautiful scenes in Arkansas for a while now, and my deadline for shooting is on the horizon. I began the day visiting Marty's Falls, which is located just off of Hwy. 21 near Mossville. It was flowing well and looked great with the fresh spring greens and healthy new growth all around. Funny, but I spent more than two hours photographing this simple waterfall that really required probably only one or two clicks. I like being around waterfalls.
With skies threatening to clear up (terrible conditions for waterfall photography), I headed to the Glory Hole, which would still photograph well even with harsh sunshine. I was surprised to spend the next couple of hours there without seeing another person. I know it has been getting crowded sometimes lately, but I found peace and solitude as always - AND the sun never arrived, which made it even better.
Next I hiked into Fern Falls between Mockingbird Hill and Deer. It was running about as high as I'd ever seen it - this part of Newton County had much more rainfall the previous day than we had at Cloudland. I'm not a fan of flooded and muddy waterfall or creek pictures - there are zillions of them on social media every time it rains a lot, but I tend towards clear and clean water that usually appears a day or two after heavy rains. I named this one Fern because - well - there is a sea of ferns that pop up around the base of this waterfall in April each year, and they love the refreshing spray that comes from the thundering falls. Another two hours spent with a lovely waterfall - never saw another person. (Sorry, but I got a little artsy with the Fern Falls photo below.)
The sun finally did arrive, which meant my waterfall shooting was over, so I made my way to the office to try and get some work done. On my way home later I decided I still had one more hike in me, so I made the steep trek down into the Smith Creek drainage and hiked up to Elise Falls. It was just beautiful there, and somehow I managed to turn this trip into another two-hour adventure as well. A great big THANKS to Elise and Marty for having the foresight to make the Smith Creek Nature Preserve possible, and to the Nature Conservancy for allowing the public to share their property.
Clear skies were certain the next day, but I needed one more hit of wildness, so I got up early and hiked back into the Smith Creek preserve to one of my most favorite shooting locations that was filled with giant boulders, small waterfalls, and emerald pools. It was nearly three hours before harsh sunshine made it into the bottom of the canyon floor where I worked, and I had filled a couple of memory cards with new memories. I know some folks complain about the hike out from just about every waterfall in the area (usually a STEEP uphill climb), but I rather enjoy that part - leaning into the hill and going as hard as I can really gets the blood pumping and my heart working - feels like I'm working my body the way it's meant to be.
So that was five trips in about 24 hours with camera backpack and tripod, and my ailing back had had enough. It was sunny the rest of the day anyway and I had a ton of office work to do. It was GREAT to be out and about in these wild places - never saw another person. (No news yet from the MRI done on my back a couple of weeks ago. It is doing much better since I stopped the physical therapy treatments a month or more ago, but I'm still plagued by something that continues to sideline me from being able to do longer trips into the backcountry.)
See more photos here.
Several days ago we took the puppies on a hike and they got to run and romp and play in the woods and meadows around Cloudland. I happened to have a snapshot camera with me and got a photo of my big boy, Wilson, as he plowed through a field of red clover that Benny and Mildred are caring for in their meadow. He is a springer spaniel but I've never been able to catch him in mid-leap, which is quite amazing to watch. So instead I present him here with his feet mostly on the ground, but his heart and soul are soaring. Mia runs mostly at 100mph and defies most any camera to catch her, but I'll keep trying...
We had a terrfic photo workshop trip into Lost Valley on Sunday - beautiful light and water, and just a wonderful three hours of shooting in this magical place. Funny, I always hear about how crowded Lost Valley is - in all that time we only saw ONE other person. You should have seen the amazing prints this group of students produced - oh my!!!
A couple of days ago a commercial property appraiser from Fayetteville spent 2-3 hours at Cloudland (great guy, wore jeans instead of suit!). He took pictures and measured everything on the property - even the star-gazing deck up in Aspens meadow. We were told by a realtor to provide him with either homemade cookies or store-bought cupcakes for his visit, so Pam got up early and baked her famous homemade Cloudland oatmeal chocolate chip cookies - perhaps the best batch she's ever made if that is even possible since they all seem to be! Luckily the appraiser completed his job while there was still a couple of cookies left (I ate almost the entire batch!).
My lovely bride has been working overtime to get her very first solo exhibit of her wonderful pastels in order. TODAY is the day her dreams will see the light of day - we will collect 20 pastels - some of them as recent as this week - and carefully transport to and hang them at the Ft. Smith Public Library for a show that will last until the end of June. She has poured so much of her heart and soul and raw talent into each piece it will be great to finally see them in public! The opening reception will be on Sunday, May 21st, from 2-4pm. (She also has three pieces hanging at the nearby Center for Arts and Education in Van Buren that are part of an Ozark Pastel Society show - including her terrific pastel of LUKE, or beloved kitty that passed away several months ago. Sounds like the greater Ft. Smith/Van Buren area is the place to be for ART right now!)
As I've been trying to catch this Journal up today the rains have come down hard and noisy, but now as dawn approaches the raindrops have stopped and I have a feeling there is yet another increbible scene happening just a few feet away from me. So I will end this here and see if I can capture a little bit of that great wilderness beauty to share with you. And HEY, it is FRIDAY - hope you have a great one today, and a full weekend of fun to follow!
05/03/17 I spent an hour in a nearby meadow yesterday afternoon as the sun dropped low in the west and skipped across brilliant daisies and red clover. Harsh sunlight is not kind to nature photographers, so I waited for passing thin clouds to calm the light down a bit. Turns out the time spent waiting was time well spent.
I kept hearing a persistent buzzing sound, which at first I thought the ringing in my ears had changed tone. When I looked through the telephoto lens I was using to photograph the flowers, I saw THEM - bees, lots and lots of bees buzzing from clover flower to clover flower - we like bees - YIPPIE!
And there were also patches of moving YELLOW too - I counted more than two dozen yellow swallowtail butterflies working the clover around me - I tried and tried and tried but never got an acceptable photo of these beauties. No matter - it was pure joy just standing there in the flower patch with so much color and movement.
To keep my impact on the flower patch to a minimum, I removed my boots and carefully waded through in my stocking feet. I had to use three different cameras since there were so many things going on at the same time, and even though I shot two or three hundred photos total, I only got a couple I liked - but hey, even ONE makes it a good day for me! With all the moisture of late we should continue to have wildflowers all month...
05/01/17 I'm headed south this morning to give a noon slide program at the Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitor Center in Little Rock as part of their 10-day long ARTS IN THE PARK celebration.
Out the door before 4am - not sure where I was headed (other than to Hot Springs - had to be there by 11am) - I just knew there might be some good light somewhere along the way and I didn't want to miss it! Sometimes the steering wheel just turns me off the highway and this morning I ended up standing in the creek in front of a waterfall about a half mile inside the Flatside Wilderness area near the base of Forked Mountain. The dim light was changing fast, and each photo I took looked different - long exposures before sunrise do that since the color and quality of the light can change a lot during a 30-second exposure - the digital sensor captures it all and mixes it together and you never know what is going to pop up!
It didn't take me long to realize I'd been standing there taking pictures for more than two hours! I was almost late arriving in Hot Springs, but the little side trip to photograph Forked Mountain Falls was worth it. 14 hours later I arrived back home tired and worn out - seems like the days keep getting shorter but I hit the wall sooner than I used to. Hum, must be something sneaking up on me - like old age maybe!
I heated up a bowl of ramen and corn for dinner, then sipped on a cup of bourbon and coke while seated on the back deck with my feet propped up on the rail. The wilderness spread out before me, shadows getting longer by the sip as the sun got low in the western sky. The only sound I heard was the music of the rivers below, down there in the green jungle that is Arkansas in MAY!