CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - December 2013
Cloudland Cabin Cam December 6 - so far we have 5" of dry snow on top of 1" ice at first light, still snowing
*SPRINGFIELD PROGRAMS ARE POSPONED until Friday, December 13th, same times
*BENTONVILLE PROGRAM IS POSTPONED until Saturday, January 18th, 1pm
• See our complete SLIDE PROGRAM schedule here
CHRISTMAS PRINT #6 - Last Color Of The Fall
Print Of The Week #50 - Alpha Wolves
12/01/13 It is late tonight and I just hiked a bit in a soft and soothing rainfall. The past several days have been quite clear, and even pretty warm for this time of year. The nights especially have been crisp and beautiful, with a zillion stars twinkling, and the Milky Way arching directly overhead. And our old lady friend, Venus, has been lighting up the evening sky in the southwest just after sunset.
Funny how time flies. We got a full extra day on Monday this past week when our program in Benton was postponed (to December 9th) due to some nasty winter weather in Central Arkansas. Then we had to cancel our annual Thanksgiving trip to the big bash in Illinois, which gave us two more full days that we did not expect. Yet, even with tree extra days, I still worked long into the night on Friday, and then up again at 5 on Saturday morning to work a few hours, and STILL did not get the gallery up to full speed in time for our open house. I'm one of those who will ALWAYS wait until the last minute to get stuff done, no matter what! Our next open house at the Canvas Gallery will be on December 14th - guess where I'll be at midnight Friday?
We had a wonderful open house with many smiling faces, including folks from as far away as Indiana and Mississippi. The weather was perfect, and in fact we had the gallery door open with cool afternoon breezes coming in counter the warm gallery flood lights. A special THANKS to everyone who brave the long and rough drive to come see us! I had a Cloudland Moment Saturday afternoon while I made a rare appearance outside while talking with some friends who had come to the gallery - a mature bald eagle circled the cabin and trees, soaring down pretty low, and sticking around for quite a while for us to get some close looks. I saw where someone mentioned that Ben Franklin was right when he wanted to make the turkey our national symbol - and while I LOVE turkey, I think they made the right choice!
For the very first time ever, my lovely bride and I spent Thanksgiving day here alone. We got up at the crack of dawn and worked for a few hours over in the gallery, then Pam prepared a delightful feast that included smoked turkey (Penguin Eds), smashed sweet 'taters, and Pam's homemade apple crisp with French vanilly ice cream. When we could hold no more, we took a nice long nap, then got up and spent the rest of the day and into the night back over at the gallery working. I made a trip or two back to the cabin for more turkey, 'taters, crisp & cream to keep my strength up. Amber joined us that evening and Cloudland filled with laughter as the girls put up the Christmas tree, hung stockings over the fireplace, and spread holiday cheer all around the cabin - it was a wonderful time for us to be together (and did I mention the turkey and 'taters?).
This was also our first holiday without our beloved Aspen. But he still got leftovers - I made sure to place a dish at his feet in the flower garden - and son-of-a-gun, it was all gone by the next morning - good dog!
We are headed to Clarksville on Monday to begin the second half of our slide program season, then programs in Springfield on Friday and Bentonville on Saturday. We hope everyone has enjoyed the shows so far, and for those who have not been able to attend yet, hope you get to do so between now and our last one on December 19th!
This was a quick snapshot I took just before sunrise on the 4th - from Firetower Road overlooking Ponca.
12/05/13 The best laid plans... We were up quite early this morning, packing the bookmobile and ready to flee the approaching winter storm and position ourselves in Springfield so that we could be there for our slide show on Friday. I came up with some pretty nifty packing schemes for cases of books, boxes of prints, and program presentation gear inside the van that would enable us to live and sleep there for the next couple of days. And then literally as we were about to back out of the carport and head up the driveway towards Missouri, the ice storm hit us square in the face, three hours early. We were unable to even get out and turned around, must less make it the first 100 yards from the cabin - the road and ground were covered with a sheet of solid ice. I had one of those moments from Apollo 13 when astronaut Jim Lovell said "We just lost the moon." I knew right away that we would not be able to get off the mountain today, or tomorrow, and probably not Saturday either - so we would have to cancel our slide programs. Bummer.
The folks at the other end of my e-mails were just so wonderful, and within a very short period of time we had both programs rescheduled. The Springfield Nature Center programs will be next Friday the 13th, and the Bentonville Library show will be on January 18th. We really hated to do this, but it appears that the winter storm hit both areas pretty hard as well, and so I think in the end it was best for everyone.
We've had sleet nearly all day long, and into the night as well, with several inches of the stuff blanketing the landscape. At one point the sleet turned into rain, and some parts of the road to slush, even though the temp was 28 degrees. I took the opportunity to take our mail out to the mailbox (a mile and a half) - the post office in Pettigrew told us that our mail carrier was going to try and make it - and HE DID, yippie! I made another run out late in the day to pickup our incoming mail (the road was back to being completely frozen), and was able to make it back to the cabin OK. Funny thing about that - I have one of the most technological 4WD wonders available (a fancy jeep), yet it is broken down due to a glitch in its adjustable air suspension system, so I could not drive it. But my lovely bride's soccer-mom Toyota SUV worked like a charm - in fact I think it is a better vehicle in these conditions than the jeep is - go figure!
At one point this afternoon the three of us were all outside doing something (me, Pam, and Lucy), and we just sort of ended up out in the woods doing a mile hike through the ice and snow. It was very easy walking - as long as we stayed on leaves that would give and crunch when we stepped - everything else was solid ice and pretty slick. It was bitter cold with a brisk north wind howling, but after a few minutes it did not seem too cold. Other than a few deer we saw, I think we were the only critters stirring. It turned out to be a delightful hike.
12/06/13 We've had snow most of today, and the wilderness landscape is covered with a blanket of soft, fluffy snow - about 8-9 inches the last time that I checked.
I put on a pair of snowshoes and made my way through the thick forest on over to Hawksbill Crag this afternoon (about a mile each way as the crow flies, or five miles the way I slip and slide all the time!). It was the most snow I'd seen on the Crag in a while, which was somewhat of a surprise since the snow has been so dry and not really clinging to the sides of things. It is a very fine snow too.
It felt kind of odd underfoot as I made my way down and across a couple of the steep hillsides towards the Crag. That deep powder had a solid bottom of ice. And then when I put my weight into each step the ice layer would give way and I'd sink in another several inches - breaking through the crust of ice and down into the thick bed of leaves.
It was still snowing pretty hard when I reached the Crag, but the light was beautiful and so I set up my camera and tripod. I spent the next hour or so taking pictures - part of the time trying to blow off all the snow from the camera. At one point the snow let up and nearly stopped, the sky got lighter, then the canyon was flooded with the warm glow from sunshine above - the sun was trying to break through the clouds. WOW, it was pretty magical being there! The color did not last long though, and soon the light had faded back and snow returned.
And then something really odd happened. The honking I heard could only be coming from one source - geese! At first I only heard them, but suddenly I caught some motion out of the corner of my vision and I turned to see a small flock of snow geese BELOW the clouds - they were so low, and only slightly above me! I'm not sure if they were just trying to get their bearings and look for a landing spot, or if someone in the group had told them about Hawksbill Crag and they were doing a low fly-by. Either way, it was quite a sight! Honk, HONK!
A little while later I packed up my camera gear, removed the light down jacket I had been wearing (it was 18 degrees with a stiff wind blowing, so in other words, kind of chilly), and headed on up the hill back home. The forest was completely silent, except for the crunch, crunch, crunch of my snowshoes breaking through that layer of ice hidden beneath the snow.