LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - APRIL 2020 (previous months)
Little Bluff cabin cam April 7 - warm and humid, no sunrise ,but clouds beginning to break up - HAPPY TUESDAY!
Journal updated on the 6th (more web photo added)
Print of The Week special click here
04/01/20 Cool breezes early this morning as the approach of dawn begins a new month. April here in the High Ozarks is looking to be lush and wet and a textbook Arkansas spring, one of the best seasons anywhere. Of course, along with all the budding vegetation comes the telltale green-yellow pollen dust that can sometimes cover EVERYthing. It’s a tough call whether to leave our cabin closed up tight to keep all that pollen outside, or open all the doors and windows and let the fresh air in. I wonder if the pollen is worse this year, because I see a lot more folks out and about wearing masks, which are a great way to block some of the incoming material, and visa versa!
My lovely bride has already been on the tractor mowing the yard and moving a few things around, and she’s getting ready to set up a small garden in one of the flower box areas near the front of the cabin. She plans a variety of the usual veggies, and new to us - a few herbs as well. We both spent most of yesterday outside working, sitting around soaking up some rays, and I even got a haircut!
I mostly stayed away from the office all day, but today it’s time to get back to work on several projects. First thing on my agenda is to CLEAR THE DECK! My work area includes my wrap-around countertop (instead of a desk) with computers, stacks of naked harddrives, printers, misc. computer parts and wires and both working and non-working computer attachments, plus piles of other stuff. And then there’s BUBBA, the 4’x 8 ’ work table that Pam’s dad built years ago - Bubba has been the main staging area for the waves of stuff that has to come in, be spread out and get organized, then piled up and moved somewhere else - today all those piles that got moved somewhere else will need to be moved somewhere else OUT of our work area (on shelves in the warehouse), and Bubba cleared off entirely. We need all that room for more projects.
After the Bubba-clearing is done, Pam will start building a dozen frames for new canvas prints that we have to get ready for the big print exhibit at the Ft. Smith Regional Art Museum. There will be 30-34 canvas prints in the exhibit (up to five feet wide, and one will be five feet tall) - the rest we already have ready. Once they figure out when the facility can open again, the show will hang through the end of August - I’ll keep ya posted.
I have several new guidebooks to work on this year, but for now I’m putting those projects on hold while I kind get my bearings and begin to reload. So much time this year so far has been spent trying to catch up, racing to fill immediate needs first. But APRIL is here, my most favorite month of the year, and I want to be a part of it - let my soul absorb as much of the greatness as I can - not only stop and smell the flowers, but get down on my hands and knees and examine them, become part of them, and them a part of me.
04/02/20 I made a quick run into town before sunup this morning to get den days of groceries. LOTS of yard work to do today. (I'm not sure what happened yesterday, but I got ZERO of my to-do things done - must have been the sunshine. The National Park Service called yesterday to let us know what was about to happen (close the park), which was very nice of them - we made the right choice last month to cancel all of our workshops.) Wildflowers are EXPLODING along our loop trail now. It really feels like spring is in full swing - that's what APRIL does to a fella...
Today was a very pleasant day with lots of warm sunshine, wind, and an afternoon thunderstorm that sent us scrambling to get electronics disconnected and outdoor tools undercover. My day began when I got up at 3:20 to take my 4am pill, only to realize there were no pills - had been taking an antibiotic for an infected tooth and I was done. The smallest tooth in my head gave us some concern last week when my temp went up and up, which of course is one of the signs we all look for these days. Couldn’t go to the dentist of course, but she was able to get me on the antibiotics, which I almost never take - it’s been a long time ago, and that’s a good thing. Anyway, the tooth is much better now. (the photo below was taken at the far corner of our property near Pam's swing - I LOVE this tree and the scene behind it!)
Since I was up way before dawn anyway I decided to make a run into town for groceries - it’s been ten days and while we’re still in good shape, there were a few items running low. I’ve actually not been inside a grocery store this year, but since my bride made us masks and I found a grocery that opened at 6am for geezers like me, I felt comfortable doing so. And it was no problem since I was the only shopper in the store for a while ad felt pretty safe. When I got home pam disinfected all products before bringing them into the cabin. Nothing is 100% with all this, but we did what we could and now are restocked for another week or two without having to leave home. YIPPIE! (somehow a couple boxes of chocolate peanut butter fudge cookies got into my shopping cart...)
I look a LOT better now!
I spent some time on the tractor mowing and unloading several bags of compost that Pam needed for her garden. Even though the growing season has just begun the grass in the yard is growing like crazy! Both of us love fresh-cut grass (even though we really didn’t have much of a “lawn” for the past 20 years, but we have one now), so mowing is no problem. We alternate though - Pam takes care of the first 40-50 feet of lawn out from the cabin with the lawn mower (which is out of order right now so she uses the tractor), while I handle the next 10-20 feet farther out with the tractor that kind of blends into the forest and steep hillside. The winds were so high that the cut grass that was being blown out one side of the tractor got picked up and blew right back across me!
One wildlife note - the pups have been really good about playing with the bunnies this year and we no longer seem to have any in the yard - which means no babies to worry about while cutting the yard. Last year Mia managed to chase a baby bunny back inside a gutter downspout that was buried beneath her flowerbed turned garden this year - the bunny went so far back inside the buried downspout that Mia tore up a four-foot length of the flowerbed as she clawed and chewed up the plastic that was buried a foot deep - the bunny kept crawling back in farther to escape until I managed to extract Mia from the entire mess and the bunny was set free. Pam fixed that entire mess yesterday with a new section of buried downspout and tomorrow I’ll put a wire mesh cover so no more baby bunnies will take refuge.
By evening the weather had calmed down and we wandered around the property admiring the REDBUD trees that have just exploded here, and also tons of wildflowers. The boulder jumble area seems to be wildflower heaven - guess the soil and exposure is just right for them. As the pups and I hiked through I realized how fortunate we are to have our own little wilderness area within our borders to enjoy- kind of like a mini park.
There was lots of office work to do, but I ignored most of it. Since everything has been postponed or cancelled or closed off I have no deadlines looming - which is rare for me. Our book business has dropped by 90% with all the closures, but an order trickles in now and then and those are processed lickity split. Since retail outlets and visitor centers are mostly closed we aren’t shipping many packages, but when we do, we have a great system for UPS - our boxes are placed on a big cart and moved outside the back of the book warehouse (and under cover). UPS can drive by, pickup or drop off to the cart, and go on his way. We leave any incoming boxes on the cart until the next day, then remove contents and wipe down as necessary, then flatten the box and put on the recycle pile outside.
04/03/20 It seems like there was a lot of noise during the night but I slept pretty good and did NOT get up at 3-something to take a pill - in fact I slept until the beak of day for the first time in a very long time. Turns out there were five storm warnings that came in on the phone overnight so I guess that’s what all the noise was about - I did have a dream or two that involved lightning - or were those real?
Tis breaking daylight now and raining lightly with no wind. At first there was a quickly-growing sea of clouds covering the canyon below, but that sea has risen up and now engulfs the cabin - i can just barely see the big oak tree at the edge of our back yard. There are black clouds moving around a little bit so we may be in for more “thunder music” from the sky.
Time to make my smoothie and then maybe do a lap or two around the trail and see how the wildflowers and creek are doing. Today will be PRICE LIST day - I need to come up with a new price list that include our new products, but since we only have two of our four new products for the year done I can only list the two calendars (not created yet) and not include a photo like I normally do (since I don’t know what is going to be on the covers). Hum, and both of the new ones just completed have bears on the covers - so it will be a bear price list - lots of bears this year, which I guess kid of goes along with the bear stock market. Hum, I need to find a picture of a BULL to put on the price list too! (so that the stock market will go up)
04/06/20 It’s pretty warm outside early this morning (56) and there is some sky up there instead of just full clouds. We almost saw the sun yesterday, but mostly it was just a bright spot on a distant ridgetop that would move around a little it.
The day before yesterday we were socked in with heavy fog all day - not a single moment where the visibility was more than 100 feet - and usually less. Since I LOVE foggy forests, I spent a good bit of time doing the loop trail here back and forth between the cabin and the office, although some times it was so foggy that I was not able to see to the bottom of the hillside I was hiking across - that was weird! Our trail winds down through this "boulder jumble" below:
It was soaking wet all day but never really rained - the moisture was seeping out of the fog and not coming from high above. Towards the end of day I made one last trip up to the gallery to collect my computer and bring it back to the cabin, when I quickly realized I had entered an enchanted forest. There was no wind, and no sound as I slowly moved along the trail, until I stopped and stood still. Then there was sound. It was raining, yet the individual rain drops did make a sound when they hit the ground - the softest raindrop sound I’ve ever heard. It’s like they didn’t hit the ground with a SPLAT like normal, but rather they sort of gently landed, barely disturbing the airwaves, and with just a hint of raindrop music. Listening carefully, I could hear an entire symphony of them, near and far, and all around me. But I never felt a single drop, nor saw one land - it was as if I was just standing there dreaming it was raining.
Then I noticed a silver jewel just hanging there in the forest - not a tiny raindrop, but rather a much larger spider web, sort of shaped like a bird’s nest and about the same size. I moved closer and realized it was a double-decker web, with a short “basement” layer where the spider lived, or sat and waited for prey of some sort to land and get entangled. Looking around I noticed another web, then another, and another. Then all of a sudden I realized there were dozens of them all around me, yet each web was attached to its own little tree or bush, and each was apart from all the rest.
As I moved in closer to try and take a picture with a little phone camera the tiny droplets of moisture covering each web would light up and sparkle silver - they were like spun silver in a magic forest where everything else was so dark. Funny, but even though I tried to take a picture of several different webs, I never got a picture that I felt really showed what they were or how they lit up the forest. So I gave up and started to move very slowly along the trail and experience what was going on instead of trying to work to capture it.
At one point I stopped and decided to count the number of these magical sparkling webs that I could see. 53, I could see 53 webs from where I was standing, each on a small tree or bush of its own. Then I moved along the trail a little farther and stopped again and counted. 67 webs! Each an individual, yet they were shaped slightly different, but all were the same double-decker type of construction. There must have been hundreds, thousands of silver webs.
I guess part of the magic of the hour it took me to reach the gallery was the fact that during that 1/2 hike along a trail I’d hiked hundreds of times already this year, I never once thought of anything else but the webs and the soft raindrops - the rest of the world and my brain was blocked out and it was like a moving meditation (I don’t meditate, but it’s what I think meditation must be like).
Darkness finally drew me out of the forest (I bumped right into a large pine tree that was as dark as the night), I collected my computer and headed back to the cabin, inching my way down the driveway. I should note here that I am petrified of spiders, yet being surrounded by them was one of the most amazing hours of my life...
WEB UPDATE - today I could not find a single web along the trail or in the woods ANYwhere! Where did they all go? It's as if the spiders only wanted to capture mist droplets from the fog, then took them down when the fog went away. Or maybe the webs were actually made entirely of fog to begin with!?
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