A Welcome Memory

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ” E.B. White / Letters of E. B. White

At 66 years of age I still prefer primitive camping in my one man tent. I prefer to leave the conveniences of the modern day world at home. Right, wrong or indifferent if I am going to take a camper filled with the luxuries of home then I would rather stay home or just stay in a motel.

I set up camp on my property in Frank Clay, Missouri. It is 12.65 acres filled with oak, hickory, and walnut with patches of sassafras and cedar sprinkled in. There is abundant wildlife, deer, squirrels and turkey.

It is so quiet and peaceful you can hear yourself think. It is my safe place when I can’t go to the river. It is another place I can go to rid my mind of all the negative energy that I let in. Only positive thinking allowed.

The sun is starting to sink in the west so I get busy setting up camp. Once done I start a fire so I can get started preparing supper.

Sweet taters, corn on the cob and Cornish hens. No finer eating than food prepared in Dutch ovens. Once done cleaning up it is time to sit and relax around the campfire.

As I sit in my chair reflecting on my day I hear the lonesome bawl of a hound in the distance. There is a chance of rain in the forecast. There is a cloud bank in the west. I can just make out the sound of distant thunder. Lightning is visible as it dances among the clouds illuminating the night sky. What a glorious light show to see. Absolutely breathtaking.

As I become engrossed in the show Mother Nature has so graciously provided for my entertainment I lose track of all time. A breeze begins to move down the ridge into the valley and arouses me from my thoughts. The lightning and sound of thunder is closer. I can smell the scent of rain carried in by the breeze. Rain is close.

The wind begins to blow hard across the woodlands I quickly go to work putting my fire out and securing anything that might blow away. J wind is blowing hard enough my tent looks like it is dancing.

I can feel the mist from the rain against my face. I crawl into my tent and settle in not knowing what to expect from the approaching storm. The first raindrop lands on my tent and is soon followed II many more. My tent is being pelted by the rain that is now a downpour but the wind has slowed. I can only hope that it stays dry inside the tent. I love to listen to the sound of the rain upon my tent. I don’t know how long I lay there listening to the rain before Mr Sandman came to visit.

Abounding Excitement

“Camping: The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.” Anonymous

I awoke at 5:00 a.m.excited that I was finally afforded the opportunity to go camping for the first time this year. Finally a weekend without rain.

I was headed to my property in Frank Clay, MO. I arrived a little after 10 a.m. I began the task of setting up camp. I soon found out that the seed ticks survived the winter. It was far worse than in years past.

I decided to take a break and parked myself in a chair. The woods were quiet except for the sweet sound of song birds. A donkey began braying in the distance and some Bluejays began fussing at one another.

When camping, time seems to move at breakneck speed. I dug out the lantern and readied it to bring light to the darkness of the coming nightfall. I gathered wood and started a fire.

“The fire is the main comfort of camp, whether in summer or winter.” – Henry David Thoreau

I settled into my chair and turned my attention into enjoying the glow of the fire. I pulled out my journal and began recording the day’s events. A donkey began to bray just east of camp. It was such a sad sounding bray. A whip-poor-will began sharing its song. To the north of camp a pack of coyotes began yipping playfully and the woodland insects began their nightly symphony. As I sat watching the flames of the fire dancing around, my eyes signaled it was time to turn in for the night.

Morning came early for me. I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and even though still half asleep managed to find my way out of the tent. I was met by temperatures in the low 50s. I added some kindling to the fire to rekindle it’s flames. I grabbed the coffee pot, added water and Cameron’s Highland Grog coffee grounds. I placed the pot on the fire and sat back and waited for the finished product. Caffeine! I need caffeine.

I don’t know if you have ever experienced the taste of camp coffee and if you haven’t I am here to tell you the flavor is in a league of its own. My childhood friend David Tripp has always been fascinated with the flavor of my camp coffee to the point he has mastered the technique and become a master at brewing camp coffee.

Finally the coffee was done and I poured myself a cup and sat back in my chair watching the fingers of light from the rising sun overtake the night sky bringing dawn to the woodlands. I was awoken from my trance by the barking of a squirrel. I finally located him. It was a gray squirrel moving erratically on the limb of a white oak. He seemed upset to find this human invading its territory. After about 10 minutes he lost interest and moved on. Two geese flew just above the treetops honking noisily as they went. The songbirds began filling the air with their music. My stomach began to growl and I heated up the Dutch Oven so I could begin the preparation of breakfast.

I loaded the oven with bacon and the morning air was filled with the aroma of cooking bacon. I then fried some eggs over easy but because some dummy forgot the biscuits breakfast would only consist of bacon and eggs. Food always seems to taste better when cooked over a campfire.

After breakfast I sat back and reflected on the weekends events and finished my last cup of coffee. It was time to break camp, clean up and head back home.

As a side note I had a phone conversation with my childhood friend and fellow blogger David Tripp telling him about my camping trip. David is doing a story about Hank (me) and Randy (David) on his blog and is doing his own illustrations. I urge you to check his blog out and follow the adventures of Hank an Randy. https://davidtripp.wordpress.com/. and check out his website Recollections 54 The Art Of David Tripp http://www.davidtrippart.com.

Life Is Like A River

“Surrender to the flow of the River of Life, yet do not float down the river like a leaf or log. While neither attempting to resist life nor to hurry it, become the rudder and use your energy to correct your course to avoid the whirlpools and undertow.” – Johnathan Lockwood Huie

I spend as much time as I can exploring the rivers of Missouri. I am mesmerized by their beauty and amazed by how much they are like life itself.

Like life a river is long and winding filled with adventure and obstacles. It ebbs and flows, builds and falls. Like life it can be rough and at other times be calm and peaceful. One minute you can be making your way through a calm pool of water and at the end of it you find yourself thrust into the rapids dodging rocks and trees trying to keep your boat upright.

The river can be calm and pristine flowing within its banks then the spring rains can transform it into a raging torrent of water causing it to surge out of its banks destroying everything in its path.

Life is full of mystery and the unknown and the river is full of the same. As you approach a bend in the river you know not of what lies ahead of you. Like in life you can only hope that you are prepared for anything that the river places before you. Will you fail or will you be victorious?

Little Red Wagon

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing poles.” Doug Larson

For those of you who don’t know me, I live to fish. There is nothing as relaxing as sitting on the bank kicked back waiting to catch the new state record.

I do most of my fishing from my kayak. I can go a lot more places and I can fish water that I can’t get to on foot. However, there is a lake in Bonne Terre City Park they call Lakeview. It has a paved walking track all the way around it. At dusk lights come on to illuminate the track.

Well my dilemma was I had to park a long way from where I fished. I had to come up with some way to make it easy to pack my gear out there. Then it hit me. A little red wagon. I always wanted a wagon when I was a child and never got one. One day at a resale shop in Farmington I spotted one. At the age of 64 I finally got my little red wagon.

I took it home and started thinking what modifications needed to be done on it. Luckily all it needed was 2 rod holders. Once installed I was in business. It had seat belts installed to use on children and they work great to strap my gear down. It worked out great and it makes it a lot easier to pack my gear into my fishing spot.

“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau

Mother Nature and Respect

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Walden Henry David Thoreau

The definition of nature is the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities. It is also defined as the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations. One could say that nature is everything.

There is a saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Relax and take time to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. Stop stressing out, overthinking or complaining. My version is “Stop and drink of the beauty of nature.”

As spring draws near camping season comes into view. The weekend warriors who live in the cities and suburbs will begin their assault upon the campgrounds. They appear in the parks pulling their 30 foot campers loaded with all the amenities of home. I don’t think this is what Thoreau had in mind when he advocated that people leave their urban and industrialized areas to explore nature. He felt that “modern life” robbed people of their best selfs and that living in harmony with nature was essential. In today’s society the campgrounds are so overpopulated that they are nothing more than smaller communities of which they were trying to leave behind.

In Missouri the rivers and Ozark streams become heavily congested with weekend floaters occupying rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, and boats. Sadly the amount of litter left behind is mind boggling. Thoreau often wrote about the importance of preserving the wilderness and the importance of living in harmony with nature. His ideas are completely lost on the minds of the majority of weekend revelers. One can see the evidence if they float the rivers on Monday morning. Sandbars and gravel bars are littered with aluminum cans, trash, and an occasional tent. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you pack it in pack it out. It is that simple. My motto is is,”Leave it better than you found it.”

We as a whole need to learn to respect Mother Earth and what she has given us. Preserve the magnificent beauty of Mother Earth so that future generations can enjoy it. We don’t know what we have until it is gone.

“I love nature partly because she is not a man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” – Henry David Thoreau’s Journal

Is It Old Age?

The country is more of a wilderness, more of a wild solitude, in the winter than in the summer. The wild comes out. The urban, the cultivated, is hidden or negatived.” – John Burroughs

I am a lover of the winter. The beauty of Mother Earth covered in fresh snow causes the spirit within me to move and feel alive.

I turn 66 in a couple of months. My body is occupied by arthritis caused by years of abuse. The cold wind cuts through me like it never has before. It magnifies the pain within my joints and makes everyday life more difficult. I guess it was just a matter of time.

For the first time in my life I am actually looking forward to the spring temperatures that will usher my old friend winter out and let the warming air of spring begin to blow across Mother Earth.

It is partially fueled by my love of the river and searching for that elusive record bass. Camping on a gravel bar partaking of the delicious scents of the river. Engrossed in the tranquility and peace that soothes my soul and enriches my spirit. Gazing into the beauty of the night sky hoping to see a falling star. Listening to the nocturnal creatures that are found along the banks of the river as they go about foraging for food and warning others of the intruder among them.

Floating down the river in my yak experiencing the transformation to spring. Marveling at the beauty of the river influenced by the changing season. The redbud and the dogwood begin to paint the countryside with their blooms manifesting on the branches that were bare in the winter months. The warmth of the sun soothes my arthritic joints as I wonder who had been here before me.

Yes it is hard for me to imagine but I am actually looking forward to the coming of spring and saying goodbye to my old friend winter.

Hello Spring!!!

“The spring wakens us, nature’s is, and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently. – Gary Zukav

Winter has handed the scepter off to Spring and nature begins the transformation of Mother Earth. The warmth of spring defeats the chill of winter and the growing season begins.

The hillside that was barren in the winter is now beginning to pop with the blooms of the redbud, wild plum and dogwood. Wild flower blooms begin to populate the prairie floor.

The offspring of the animals can be seen by their mother’s side. The spring rains begin watering the flowers and trees. The farmer begins the job of preparing machinery so he can plant his crops. Mother Earth has come full circle with the rebirth of nature.

You have to take the bad with the good. I don’t know how many times I have heard this in my lifetime. Sometimes I think that saying is very well represented by spring.

Spring storms can wreak so much havoc on nature. Tornadoes destroy everything in their paths. It has no mercy for anything in it’s path. Then it is over just like that, the sun pops out then a rainbow appears. The bad with the good.

I’m continually inspired by nature, and the rainbow is one of nature’s greatest phenomenons. The sighting of a rainbow never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces. They signify optimism and positivity: with them comes the sunshine after the rain.” – Matthew Williamson

So spring has officially started. Won’t be long and folks will begin opening their pools. Hoping you all have a safe and prosperous spring.

Spread the love and be kind to one another.

The River is Calling

I know I write a lot about the river. It is a big part of my life. I know it is hard for some to understand my passion for the river. For those that don’t have a chance to enjoy the river I hope you can get to experience it through my writing.

I love to be on the river at early dawn. Just as the fog starts to lift off the river. You can hear the fish hitting the top of the water partaking of their morning breakfast.

Songbirds fill the morning air with their beautiful music and the squawk of a Heron can be heard.

The river is my utopia and my kayak is my yacht. The world seems so perfect there. I have watched deer cross the river 10 yards in front of me. Watched beaver hard at work and have had Bald Eagles fly above me. One early morning I had an otter swim up and put his paws on the side of the kayak.

I can sit for hours and listen to the sound of the water working it’s way through the riffles. I can feel the tension start to melt as I begin to relax. There is so much that goes on at the river.

It’s a place one can go to take the time to know themselves better.

It’s a place to shed your troubles and worries.

It’s a drug you can’t overdose on.

It’s a place that can cause you to be overwhelmed with joy.

It’s a place where your soul, spirit, and mind can be healed.

In time it is a place of memories.

I am truly addicted to the peacefulness of the river. My love for the river has been around for a long time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. Remember to spread the love and be kind to one another.

We Say “Merry Christmas”

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“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.  It is happiness because we see joy in people.  It is forgetting self and finding time for others.  It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” – Thomas S. Monson

It seems that it is not politically correct to say Merry Christmas and Christmas tree.  To be politically correct it is suggested that one would say Happy Holiday and Holiday tree.  Really?  Excuse me but just how long have we been saying Merry Christmas and decorating a Christmas tree?

What has happened in this country?   Why are we breaking tradition all of a sudden?  Supposedly it is so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings that believes differently than we do.  Now the purpose of my blog isn’t to bash those folks that say they get offended.  It is a blog to explain why I say Merry Christmas.

First I would like to point out that Christians and Jews have been living in the U.S. together for many years.  I have had many Jewish friends and I don’t remember any of them being offended when I wished them a Merry Christmas.  Maybe they were and didn’t say anything but I hope not.

You see when I wish you a Merry Christmas it is a greeting of joy, peace and love.  It is in reference to the day that God sent His Son to be born on earth and start a life where He healed the sick, made the blind see and performed many other miracles.  It all ended when my Savior was hung on a cross made of wood and He died for my sins.  That is why I say Merry Christmas.  It is not to insult you or to hurt your feelings.  It is simply my wanting to share with you the joy and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

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“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.  To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge

With that said I would like to say Merry Christmas!  A big thank you to all my followers.  You have no idea how much you are appreciated.  I wish you all a prosperous new year filled with joy, love and success.

How Do We Measure Success?

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;  To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson wrote this sometime in the mid to late 1800s I believe.  I came across it a couple of years ago and it came up on my radar again.  In today’s world and my age I consider just waking up on the right side of the dirt as a sign that I have succeeded.  If he were to write that today I really wonder what he would have said?

………This is to have succeeded.  In life?  Love?  School?  I am going to approach it as “in life.”  What is success? According to Merriam-Webster, outcome result; degree or measure of succeeding; attainment of wealth, favor or eminence; one that succeeds.

I racked my little brain and I couldn’t think of anyone that I can say is breathing easier because I am alive.  As far as “a redeemed social condition” I had to wrestle with this one and I am not sure I have the right idea  however I think Emerson is referring to a certain social group (culturally, politically, economically, etc,  really guessing here)one may have helped beat gambling addiction, alcoholism etc. in one of those groups.

To appreciate beauty.  Wow, now that could be a loaded gun.  I know how society seems to label beauty, usually they don’t look past the outside beauty.   I am of the opinion that beauty is the whole package.  One can be beautiful on the outside but so ugly on the inside.  I see people that are bullied, ridiculed and treated like low class citizens because they may carry a few extra pounds, a noticeable scar, birth mark etc..  The majority of folks just seem to look at a person on the outside without finding out what their heart is made of.  They could have a heart of gold and no one ever notices.  Seems so sad and such a waste.  If you are a person that looks at the “whole” person and not just the outer shell I truly believe that is a true sign of success and you have my utmost respect.  So many people are incapable of it.

Oh my gosh , the light bulb just went off!!  I thought of someone that breathes easier because I am alive.  My doctor.  I mean how did I overlook that.  After all if I was on the other side of the dirt my doctor would lose that income.   After all the money is in the treatment not the cure.

Aw, the betrayal of false friends.  Now this is one that can hurt.  What is that little saying going around the internet, oh yeah.  The only reason some folks are alive is because I don’t want to go to prison, or something like that anyway.  That can be a tough pill to swallow.  There are some really cold people in the world and they don’t seem to have any problem hurting other people.  I think some folks just crave the feeling.  Here is another real sign of success I think.  If one can truly forgive a false friend that betrayed them I think that is another true sign of success.

I don’t know if it because I am getting old and less trusting, it just seems harder and harder to find the best in others.  There is so much dishonesty and hate in the world today that it is hard to trust.  To find the best in others you are going to have to trust them.  In the past I have recommended horse trainers.  These were trainers that I thought they knew what they were doing.  Boy was I wrong.  I have saw what I thought was good in a lot of folks and just set myself up for a hard fall.  With me it is a tough one and if it is something that I have to accomplish to have succeeded in life, I may be running a little short on making it.

Once again thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I truly wish everyone a successful and prosperous life.  One filled with success and good times.  Spread the love!