A Tribute to Meddlin’ Kate

“Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s one thing in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.” – Jon Katz

Animals have a way of knowing when things aren’t right in our world and they will do their best to bring a little sunshine into the moment. They love us faithfully and ask for nothing in return. The above picture is my Kate. I was a farrier and she was my ride dog. She took her job of riding shotgun very seriously. She was always there to brighten up my day when I needed. When I needed to vent she was always there to listen. I was devastated when I lost her to cancer. We were together 24/7 and when she crossed the bridge I lost a huge part of my life. Now I hold on to the memories we made together. RIP my Meddlin’ Kate.

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. Others have come in their slow way into my thought, and some have tried to help or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say. You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.

Written by William Stafford An American Poet and pacifist.

Missouri Mines State Historic Site

Missouri Mines State Historic Site, Park Hills, MO.

The mining industry in the Southeast Missouri Lead District has been a big part of Missouri’s economy for more than 280 years.

The St Joseph Lead Company was founded on March 25, 1864. The Company bought the Bonne Terre lead mine and 950 acres in Bonne Terre, MO, in1864. By 1923 the company had 250 miles of underground railroad running under Flat River, Leadwood, Desloge, Rivermines, and Elvins, cities in Missouri.

Then in 1923, the Federal Mill No. 3 became the property of the St. Joe Lead Company and with improvements they made it into the largest mill in the world. St, Joe kept it operational until 1972. In 1975 the company donated the complex and surrounding property to the state of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources took possession in 1976 and named it St. Joe State Park and in 1980 it was designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.

Inside the mines old powerhouse is a museum and you can see the Midwest’s finest mineral collections. There is information about the history of the area’s lead mining and actual machinery that was used in the mine is on display.

There is off road vehicle trails in the park and features four lakes, two swimming beaches, equestrian trails, hiking and bicycling trails, water trail and picnic sites. There are also two campgrounds capable of accommodating campers with ORV or horse trailers.

Words Beneath the Rocks

” 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 words, and some of the words are theirs.” – Norman Maclean, “A River Runs Through It And Other Stories”

Maybe what attracts me to the river is the mystery of where it started nd what it has seen on its way to where it is at the very moment it flows by me. There are times I wish it could talk to me about its journey and what it has seen. Now I sound like a silly old man but I think it does the spirit good to be silly once in awhile.

Words of the River

St Francis River in the millstream Gardens Conservation Area near Arcadia, MO.

“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was just not water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.”Hermann Hesse

I love sitting along the river and closing my eyes and getting lost in the sounds of the river. Sometimes I wish the river could talk to me. Tell me where it came from, where it has been and what it has seen. It has such a calming effect on the spirit and it soothes the soul. It is my safe place and where I become one with Mother Earth. It is a mystical place and a place of love.

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied. Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.Garth Brooks “The River

Millstream Gardens on an Autumn Day

I headed to Millstream Gardens in Madison County about half way between Fredericktown and Arcadia, Missouri. It is connected to Silver Mines Conservation Area via a trail that runs along the St. Francis River. It’s part of the Mark Twain National Forest. I was to meet a friend and his daughter. We met up around noon. They have a paved trail accessible by wheelchair that goes a mile down the trail to a scenic overlook.

We had a perfect day for a hike. We headed out down the trail. It is an easy hike to the overlook named Cats Paw. Not sure how it got its name but it didn’t disappoint as you an see by the photo below.

We decided to take a trail down to the river. Now this part would be considered hard. Steep and rocky and we had to climb over rocks but it was certainly worth the effort. The scenery was breathtaking. Mother Nature’s beauty at her finest. When they have the kayak races here in the spring the water is usually up quite a bit from the spring rains. I stood there trying to envision the kayakers trying to maneuver their yaks through this swift water around the big boulders that littered the river bed. I think I will lave that up to the professionals.

We didn’t want to leave. It was so peaceful sitting there on the rocks listening to the water rushing past the boulders. We reluctantly started our way back to the parking lot and our vehicles. It is a damn good day when you can share an experience like this with friends. It was a grand day.

Following are a few of the 127 pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them and can feel what we felt being there beside the river. We will definitely be going back for sure. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

The Changing of the Leaves

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO.

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked to the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” – Dodinsky

The temp today was supposed to be in the 60s today and if it wasn’t it was close. I was to meet a high school friend and we were going to kick back and enjoy an autumn day. We met up around 10 a.m. both of us needing a “do nothing” day. Silver Mines is the kind of place where one can do that. It offers so much in the way of nature that it is impossible for someone who loves nature to leave without their spirit fully charged.

We had just camped here the week before. We got a lot of rain Sunday night and the river level had came up. The water is usually very clear but today it was stained. The leaves were starting to change to their autumn colors. By this weekend I think they are going to be in their full autumn colors.

There are so many things you can do. Kayaking, fishing, hiking and camping. Daily picnic sites are available. The trails on both sides of the river are rocky and rough. I would rate them as hard. You can make a loop but you have to cross the damn to do so. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends so I limit my visits to the week days where you are pretty much by yourself. Flash floods can be a problem in the spring.

We headed home around 3:30. On the way out I saw the camp ground hosts. They told me the powers that may be notified them that they were going to close the gates November 7 for winter. They have already turned the water off so if you camp in this last week be sure to bring some water with you.

Persistence

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktowm, MO.

“A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins

Too many times we fall short of what we were trying to achieve in life because we simply gave up. Our life is littered with events that test our fortitude. We have a choice to give up or be like the river. How we face these obstacles determines if we succeed or fail.

Life and the River

St Francis River in Silver Mines Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO.

“The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.”-Eartha Kitt

Life is much like the river. Full of turns and bends leaving us to wonder what’s next and where we are going. We are just along for the ride letting it take us where it may go. As long as we maintain control of our vessel things will work out and we will reach the deep calm waters at the end of the rapids.