Understanding Nature

 

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“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

I came upon this quote a couple of years ago and since then I have revisited it several times.  It has tugged on my mind from time to time and caused me to think heavily upon it.  I realize it is short but there is a lot to learn from these few words.

Funny how life works.  I for some reason could never exactly wrap my little mind around this quote a friend called and in conversation mentioned a work by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled “Circles”.   My good friend encouraged me to read it and a light bulb went off over my head like in the cartoons.  Nature is nothing more than a circle.

Native Americans were very spiritual and they believed dearly in the Sacred Circle.  The power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.  Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.  The sky is round, earth is round, moon is round, bird’s nest is round and the sun is round.  Their tipis were even round.

The butterfly lays an egg, the egg hatches and becomes a caterpillar, then the caterpillar forms a cocoon then another butterfly emerges.  The riparian system along the rivers are constantly repairing themselves except where man has made it impossible for it to repair itself.  Leaves on the trees appear in the springtime and give shade to the forest floor so plants can grow.  The leaves drop off in the fall and then fall to the ground where they self compost into the ground adding the nutrients that plants and trees need for proper growth.  Perfect circles of existence.

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The creatures of nature have no time to rest.  Have you ever watched a spider spin its web?  I spent three hours one day watching just that.  How could something that seemed so simple be so fascinating?  I never saw something work so hard non-stop.  The intricate design of the web itself left me speechless.  The spider worked relentlessly against the wind and every time there was a setback the spider would overcome and work on.     Nature provides creatures with food during the spring, summer, and fall, then they are on their own.  Just an example of the circle of life in nature.   The weak will not make it and they will die and that spring newborns will take their place.

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Nature is so much more than pretty flowers, trees, animals and sunsets/sunrises.  It has to balance things too as it goes along.  Man has made that job pretty hard by meddling in Nature’s business.  When we eliminate predators the end result is more animals that multiply unchecked because of our interference.  We add levees and cause major flooding instead of just leaving it alone and letting Nature take care of it.

Nature can be relentless and forgiving.  Nature can create a tornado that leaves destruction for miles and when the storm moves on, produce the most breathtaking painting anyone ever saw in the form of a rainbow.

” The laws of nature are written deep in the folds and faults of the earth.  By encouraging men to learn those laws one can lead them further to a knowledge of the author of the laws.” – John Joseph Lynch

Man needs to learn these laws and everything in nature would happen in a perfect circle.  We build levees and dams to tame the rivers, we develop chemical applications to control bugs, weeds and unwanted grasses.  When we do this we interrupt that natural circle.  We do it in order, supposedly, to produce more food with less expense.  We do it in the name of saving the world.  What if we push Nature to the point that she deems it necessary to rid herself of meddling humans in the form of volcanoes, massive earthquakes, “perfect storms” etc.?

It is time for us to do something about all of the polluting and destruction of Mother Earth.  Clean up the trash that plaques the countryside.  It is time to start respecting Mother Nature.  I do a lot of floating and I don’t know how many gravel bars I have cleaned up,  It disgusts me the lack of respect my fellow humans have for what Nature has given us.

This is a subject I am very passionate about.  It sickens me when I see all the litter along the roads and countryside.  It is time to give Nature the respect she deserves.  I am sorry this was a little long.  I apologize.  I hope you enjoyed my blog.  If you liked it please hit the “like” button to let me know.  Thanks for reading.

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”  –  William Hazlett

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Catfish Tomatoes

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Pints of catfish tomatoes.

I grew up in the 60s and I used to watch my grandma and mom can.    They canned everything from sausage, fish to  dill pickles and beets.  Sometimes she would can 75 quarts of green beans.  I remember how great they tasted.

I recently canned some catfish tomatoes and thought I would share it with those that can.  My grandparents were from Arkansas and this is the recipe my grandma had.  They go real well with fish and I love it with BBQ.  I hope you like them.

Grandma’s Catfish Tomatoes

1 gallon quartered green tomatoes

1 pint hot peppers cut up

1 pint white vinegar

1 quart quartered onions

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup salt

Bring to a boil or until tomatoes turn light green.   Gently stir a couple of times.   Once they come to a boil take them off the heat and spoon them into jars and seal.  They don’t need a bath.  Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of liquid but as they cook the tomatoes create a lot of liquid.  I also recommend you cook in steel not aluminum.

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Quartered green tomatoes
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Quartered onions
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Cut up jalapenos

Well thanks for reading my blog.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Warning: It is spicy.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Nature: The Natural Sedative

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“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord  Byron

Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I have been fascinated by nature.  It has always had a calming effect on me and when surrounded by it a place to think.  We are lucky to have so much wilderness at our disposal so that we can experience it first hand and not have to just see it in pictures.  There are some people who have never had that opportunity and I am very grateful that I have been able to enjoy it first hand.

I have been lucky enough to view nature from horseback, a kayak and backpacking. When it seemed like the world was closing in on me and I became anxious I would load my horse up and take off some where on the weekend and ride and camp out.  As I would ride along the trails drinking in the beauty of nature I could feel all the negativity in my life melt away and I would become relaxed and refreshed.  The effect nature had on me always amazed me.  It was a natural sedative for the troubles I had bottled up inside of me.

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Big River St. Francois State Park

My favorite gift of nature has to be the river.  It is so easy for me to become one with the river. The water that flows between the banks makes the river and gives life to the river like the blood that runs through my veins gives me life.  I am at peace with myself on the river.  As I drink in the beauty of the river along with its mysteries, my spirit begins recharging itself and my soul awakens making me feel very much alive.  Aggravation begins to shed itself from my mind and I feel a new tranquility surround me.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail.” – John Muir

Don’t take my word for it.  Take the time and go out and discover nature for yourself. Close your eyes and listen to everything around you then open your eyes and absorb all the beauty around you into your mind.  You will be glad you did.

“I believe that there is a magnetism in Nature,which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” – Henry David Thoreau

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you liked it please hit the “like” button.  Be kind to one another, spread the love and take time to enjoy nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Distance: Just How Far Is It?

”Distance is only as far as we let it be” – Wayne White

Living proof that even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while.  This quote came about one day while interacting on Facebook with my friend David Tripp.  He was on his way back to Texas after a week of fishing and visiting in Missouri.  He was talking about the geographical distance between Missouri and Texas but we didn’t seem that far apart.

With new technology and social media we have, there is no reason that a thousand mile separation has to seem that far away.  There are so many tools available to us today that we can change the feeling of being so far away.  We can virtually call anywhere in the United States and stay in touch.  We can share posts on Facebook, IM each other, use our phones to text one another and use apps like Skype, Linked In, Twitter and so many others to stay in touch.

With all the available tools we have at our disposal there is no reason that a thousand miles has to feel like a long way.  We can share our vacation as is happening.  We don’t have to come home and get pictures developed or set up the movie camera to share our vacation with friends and family.  We can do it as it is happening.

I remember the Bell telephone commercial sometime in the 70s that use to say ” Reach out and touch someone.” and I had no idea what he future had in store for us.  I know the verdict is still out as to whether all this new technology is good or bad for us, however it can make us feel like next door neighbors even if we are separated by a thousand miles.

“Technology gives us the facilities that lessen the barriers of time and distance – the telegraph and cable, the telephone and radio, and the rest.” – Emily Greene Balch (Note: Born January 8, 1867  Died January 9, 1961)

Thank you for reading my blog.  If you liked it please let me know.  Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

 

 

 

 

Big River, The River of My Choice.

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?  That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”  – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I have had some people ask me what it is that attracts me so much to Big River so for this blog I thought I would share why this river has mesmerized me with its beauty and mystique I cherish so much.

Big River begins near the summit of Johnson Mountain near the ghost town of Enough. It flows through the Missouri counties of Washington, Saint Francois and Jefferson then it empties into the Meramec River near Eureka, MO.  It flows through Washington State Park, St. Francois State Park and through the Lead Belt mining district.  It meanders 145 miles through the Missouri countryside.  Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, longear sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish and red horse suckers are some of the fish that can be found in the Big River.

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Big River above Leadwood Access
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Big River

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the river words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.” – Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

I seem to always be drawn to big the Lead Belt area of the Big River.  The 108 years of mining in that area took a toll on the Big River in the form of contamination by lead. There is a contamination warning on certain kinds of fish caught in the Big River.  There are pipes that go into the old mines that are still in the river.  I am not sure what they were used for.   I was told that they were old test holes, used to pump water out of the mines and numerous other things but do not know for a fact what exactly they were used for.

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Big River

I spend a lot of time camped out at night in this area.  It seems to hold so much mystery within the banks of the river.  Sometimes there seems to be a presence with me as I go about my night of running limb lines and sitting by the camp fire.  Not an evil presence but like another presence in another dimension.  Sometimes when I am running limb lines and the fog is lifting it looks like spirits rising from the mines out of the water on their way to somewhere else.  Some nights it even makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Oddly enough it is a pleasant feeling.  At times I have even thought that maybe they are wanting to share their secrets with me.  Maybe it is the past inhabitants of the ghost town Enough wanting to converse with me.  The mystery stirs my soul deep inside hoping that one day they will share those secrets with me.  One night while I was sitting by the fire I smelled cigarette smoke like someone was sitting right next to me smoking a cigarette.  Am I crazy?  Maybe, maybe not.

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A couple other things that attract me to the Big River is the beautiful scenery and last but not least the fishing.  My photos will never do the beauty of the river justice.  The tall bluffs and rock formations and the lined banks of beautiful trees make the Big River a great place to float and enjoy life. If the river could talk I wonder what it would say.  Would it tell me about the people that came before me, tell me about how it was before they started mining.  Oh the things it could share with me.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog.  I hope you find it interesting.  Maybe some night you will get to camp along the banks of the Big River and you can tell me if I am crazy or not. Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

Life, Are You Living It?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself

Life is about creating yourself.” –  George Bernard Shaw

Life can be so complicated and full of twists and turns.  Are you living it to the fullest or are you just merely nothing more than a slave.   Are you one that runs up your credit cards?   Do you live from paycheck to paycheck?  Do you suffer from instant gratification?  Instead of saving the money to buy something one buys the merchandise on a credit card because they want it now.  So you run up your cards and you can’t pay it off.  Now you are a slave to the banks/credit cards.  Credit cards can become a financial burden that can make it harder to enjoy life.

Are you a workaholic?  You just have a need to work.  If you are then you need to step back and reevaluate where you are.  If you are single then you are only hurting yourself but if you are married, then the whole family suffers.  You will begin losing touch with your family.  Children need their mother AND father.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”– Norman Cousins

When we are young it seems we have so many dreams and things we want to accomplish in life and then as we grow older some of those things start to die a slow death.   Perhaps it is because we give up too soon or as we grew older we lost interest or in our mind, thought they weren’t attainable.  Never give up.

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

I realize I am no one special, no doctor or shrink but I am going to share what I think one needs to do to live life.  Slow down, look around and take a good look at the things in nature that surround you.  Maybe my elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top but I take great joy in watching a honey bee work a flower, a spider spin it’s web.  I love to hear the birds singing in early dawn as I watch the sun rise.  I love sitting on the river and watch the wildlife starting their day in the early morning dawn.  At night on the river I listen to the symphony presented by the bull frogs and crickets.   The crack of a beaver’s tail warning the others.  These things are simple but rejuvenate the spirit.  The greatest thing is they cost you absolutely nothing but slowing down and taking the time to enjoy them. That my friends is what I call living life at its fullest.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  If you like please let me know.  Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

 

 

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Think Positive

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“In the end, the whole internet thing kills me.  because you can use it as a positive thing or you can read into all the negativity.   And I think you’ve gotta put out positive energy, put out cool viral stuff, and then just stay out of people’s opinions.” – Nikki Sixx

I use to be one of those that laughed when I heard people talk about negative and positive energy.   Yeah right!   Drink some more kool- ade.   Then when I was going through a tough time I started thinking about it more and reading what I could about it.  Sooooooo I began living the idea and I could tell it helped immensely.

My biggest challenge was social media.  The internet seems to be becoming overrun with negativity.  So many people seem to dwell on the negativity that it isn’t long before you start losing sight of all the positive things in your life.

“Negativity spreads faster than any Justin Bieber song.” –  Vanilla Ice

Negativity can destroy enthusiasm, destroy self esteem, cause anger and hate, and can cause depression.  It can cause you to lose friends and alienate from those special people in your life.  It also kills our creativity.

The picture I chose represents the fast paced world we live in.  I believe that causes a lot more negativity in our lives.  We need to spend more time just for ourselves and take more time relaxing.   We need to focus on our dreams and goals and keep the negativity from ruining those things for us.   We need to laugh more, enjoy life more and surround ourselves with those that love us.

“The thing that I have learned is that there really is no joy, and nothing ever good is going to come from negativity.   Those are thoughts that, even if you were presenting an honest version of yourself, there’s just no point in sharing.” – Stephen Amell

Thanks for reading.  I hope you found my blog helpful.  Be kind to one another, spread the love, and don’t squat with your spurs

 

 

Loyalty Has Left the Building

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“Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs, loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.” – John Grogan.  My dog Kate has all of the above qualities. I am one of those people that when you come to my house and you tell me you don’t like my dog, I immediately show you to the  door.  We could learn a lot from dogs.

When I was a child a handshake was better than a signed contract because both parties were loyal to the agreement.  Today a so called friend will go behind your back and steal the promotion you were trying to get or if you get it, they will do everything they can to make you look bad.

“Honesty and loyalty are key.  If two people can be honest with each other about everything, that’s probably the biggest key to success.” – Taylor Lautner

So many friendships and relationships now days are void of loyalty.  I see it all the time.  Do we blame it on social media?  Do we blame it on the way we bring our children up?  What do we blame it on?   Ourselves?

Loyalty binds a friendship, and is responsible for us to endure hardship with that person.  Loyal friends see us as someone special to them so therefore they won’t abandon us.  Loyalty is a choice.  A true friend will go with us into the unknown.

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Both of my dogs are loyal and perfect examples of unconditional love.   Not everyone likes dogs so they won’t understand what I am talking about.  Those of you that own dogs know exactly what I am talking about and know how loyal they are.

So let me ask you.  Are you a loyal friend?  Do you know what loyalty is?

Thank you for reading.  Remember to be kind to each other, don’t squat with your spurs on and spread the love.

 

The Joy of Friendship

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Long time friend David Tripp
“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.” – Hubert Humphrey

David and I met in the second grade and thanks to FB we reconnected.  David is a retired educator and a profound artist and writer.  He now lives in Texas and when he comes to Missouri to visit family we always try to get together and chew the fat.  We try to plan a fishing trip once a year and this past week we managed to get some fishing in.

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Rock of David
There is a rock formation on the Big River up river from the Leadwood Access that David wanted to see.  I had sent him a picture of it some time ago and he did a plein air water color of it that I was very impressed with so I named it the Rock of David.  He finally got to see it Friday with his own eyes and rumor is there will be another plein air watercolor of it in the future.

Since we went to view the Rock of David we decided to get some fishing time in.  The river was low so we pulled the boat up on a gravel bar in the middle of the river and did some wading.  We caught several fish, panfish, David caught some smallies and I caught a spotted bass.  Some of the perch were the size of our hands.  We both thought the day felt like a fall day.

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It was a good day.   We talked about the town of High Ridge that we grew up in.  remembered classmates and wondered what happened to some of them.  Discussed teachers and sports.  Laughed.  There was also a lot of quiet time so we could take a walk down memory lane alone.  We shared war stories and discussed books. We solved all the world’s problems.

“Friendship is the fruit which the year should bear; it lends its fragrance to the flowers, and its in vain if we get only a large crop of apples without it.” – Henry David Thoreau

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Big River
“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” – Emma Smith

It is always fun to share the beauty of this part of the river.  I don’t think David was disappointed.  This stretch of the river has never failed to mesmerize me every time I pass through it.

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Big River

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Big River
As the sun began to sink into the western horizon I realized that this perfect day was about to come to an end.  I realized how lucky I was to have a friend like David.  As I watched the sun as it light seemed to make its final escape from the river the realization that the day was about to end, I realized just how we sometime overlook the importance of a good friend.  To think a liberal and conservative spent the day together and didn’t kill each other.  Thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed the photos of the Big River.  The beauty of it is stunning and it is easy to get lost in it.   Remember to be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

 

 

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Love

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

“When you look into your mother’s eyes. you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.” -Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Today I came across  a post that said,”If you could get rid of one thing in the world what would it be?”.  There were answers like hate, greed, corruption, etc..  I sat and did some thinking about this and I came to the conclusion that it was the wrong question.  The appropriate question would be, “What would you do to change the world?”.  I would teach the world to love unconditionally.  Why you say?  If we were able to love unconditionally there would be no hate, corruption, greed etc..  Those things could not survive in a world that truly loved unconditionally.  If a person’s heart was that full of love hate couldn’t survive.

Unconditional love in its simplest form means appreciating someone else for who they truly are.  It means loving  them when they are unlovable, and in spite of their imperfections and mistakes.  At a deeper level, it means never, ever questioning whether you’ll feel any other way toward a person.  You’ll never judge them and you will accept them for who they are.  It means loving someone regardless of their race, religion, nationality and their handicaps.

“To love everyone unconditionally does not mean to give everyone your unconditional time.  Sometimes, to love completely,  we must never see someone again.  This too is love.  This is giving someone the freedom to exist and be happy, even if it must be without you.” – Veronika Tugaleva

I am a firm believer to take someone’s life, one’s heart must be full of hate.  A lot of times it is blamed on child abuse during one’s childhood.  That abuse fueled hate and filled that person’s heart to the point they had no regard for another person’s life and they were willing to take that person’s life without hesitation.  If that individual would have been loved like a child should be, in all probability they would have never taken another person’s life.

If unconditional love ruled the world there wouldn’t be people living on the streets, crime wouldn’t exist, there wouldn’t be any corruption in our police departments or government.  Unconditional love would trump the cause of all these negative things. Our children would know what respect is.  It would end hunger.  Wars would be non-existent.

I am a realist however and know this Utopia, so to speak, is more my imagination than a reality.  A great idea and pleasant thought.  Wouldn’t it be great to wake up some morning to a world like this though?

“We are the world, we are the children.   We are the ones who make a brighter day so lets start giving.  There’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives, its true we’ll make a better day just you and me.”We Are The World USA For Africa

I thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I guess it would fit into a fantasy category.  In my heart I think it is a beautiful thought.  Be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.