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.

Camping at Silver Mines

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

On October 18, a good friend of mine met me at the Silver Mines Conservation Area. This area is named for the abandoned “Einstein Mine” where in 1870 was used to mine silver, tungsten and lead up until 1946 when the mine was closed. The area is known for its Precambrian granite and felsite rocks.

After a brief visit we began setting up camp. I had brought my Bushnell one man tent and Clarry opted for a hammock and tarp. I was amazed with the hammock setup. Clarry had it down to a science. When he was done setting up it looked very inviting. It was only his third time at setting it up. The temps got down into the upper 30s and he discovered some things he would do differently the next time.

After breakfast we decided down the dam on the St Francis river. It was built when they were mining the area. The trail actually goes across the dam to get to the other side of the trail and we thought about trying it but we were going to have to wade to do it and we decided against it.

We talked to another camper who had done it and he told us about two graves on the other side marked by two wooden crosses and the mine entrance was on the other side too but it had been closed off. The trail was pretty rocky and in places you had to climb over big rocks and because of my ankle not being fully healed we didn’t walk the entire trail and headed back to camp. When back at camp we sat around the campfire talking and we had a surprise visitor.

It was a great time. Trees were just starting to color and in another week should be in full color. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We did meet a gentleman there who came all the way from Chicago to a camp a couple of days. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It would be hard not to feel at peace with yourself while you were here. If you are looking for a place to camp where you can enjoy nature I highly recommend Silver Mines. It is located near Fredericktown, MO off highway D. In the spring when the river level is up they have kayak races.

It’s Been A Year

My cast after surgery.

A year ago today I was rolled into the operating room for a complete ankle replacement. It had been over 40 years since I had taken a step without pain. My doctor said this would take care of that but the healing process would take a year to a year and a half to be fully healed. So the journey began.

I have to admit the first three days I was in intense pain and the pain pills did very little to alleviate the pain. On the fourth day I got some relief but I was still in a lot of pain. I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right choice.

I was on crutches longer than was expected because when he went to secure my new ankle to the leg bone the bone splintered and an extra screw was needed and the bone had to mend before I could put weight on it.

Second cast

I received a new cast and then eventually a walking boot. There was still quite a bit of pain and I was experiencing a lot of swelling but I was on the road to recovery.

Six months went by then eight and then ten. I was still experiencing pain but there had been some progress.

I finally got where I could walk fairly well on flat ground but an incline or uneven ground was a challenge. After 11 months I still had pain at times but it was much better. I was really beginning to wonder if I made the right decision.

My foot at around 6 months

I finally made a decision to try the Blue Emu Oil with hemp and see if it would help. To my surprise it was quite effective and the pain began to melt away. I could actually walk without pain.

After a year I went down memory lane revisiting the ups and downs. I will admit that just 3 weeks ago I was wondering if the surgery had been worth it. Yes it was. It’s great to be able to walk without pain. I still have pain at times but I am confident in saying I will be fully recovered in the next six months.

After all the ups and downs it has been worth the pain to get to where I am today. I have started fly fishing again and hope to take my first big hike this weekend. If I had it to do all over again I would make the same choice. I no longer suffer from chronic pain.

My foot today

Weekend In Pilot Knob, MO

My grandson and I attended the 157th Anniversary Battle Of Pilot Knob Reenactment. I tip my hat to the organizers, reenactors, vendors, participants and security. Everything went smoothly and if there was a glitch I didn’t notice it.

The Battle of Fort Davidson was fought on September 27, 1864, near the town of Pilot Knob, MO. Major General Sterling Price commanded the Confederate troops against Union troops commanded by Thomas Ewing Jr. The Confederate divisions of Major General James Fagan and Brigadier General John S Marmaduke drove Union troops, commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr. and Major James Wilson, out of the Arcadia Valley to Fort Davidson. The Confederate troops led three separate attacks against the fort and were turned away. On the final attempt General William Cabell’s Confederate brigade was able to cross the moat but failed to enter the fort and retreated.

That night Ewing, after much consideration, decided to abandon the fort. He ordered his men to blow up the fort’s magazine which enabled Union troops to slip past the Confederate troops guarding the escape routes without being detected. After the unsuccessful attack Price made the decision not to attack St. Louis.

The Missouri State Parks system added the Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site in 1968 and on February 26, 1970 the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The dead were buried in a mass grave and it is marked by a granite monument. It was estimated that the Union troops lost 213 lives and the Confederates lost between 500 to 1,000 lives. There is a Visitors Center located in the park. Inside you will find a research library, a fiber optic display, and artifacts including Ewing’s sword. The American Battlefield Trust has been involved in the preservation of 41 acres at the site.

The Arrival of Fall

Fall has arrived here in Southeast Missouri. Breakout the pumpkin spices, the hoodies and the chili recipes. Let the bonfires begin!

Farmers will begin the removal and storage of their crops. The sky will be filled with the “honking” of geese as they begin their journey to their winter homes. We will soon awaken to cool crisp mornings with frost on the pumpkin. The countryside will become painted with bright yellows, oranges and reds. Mother Earth will show off her artistic abilities. Her forest creatures will be obsessed with gathering and storing their winter food.

Folks will turn to folklore to try and predict the upcoming winter weather. There are two particular methods that are popular in my area.

The persimmon seed. People will look for the ripe fruit and then they will remove the seed. They will split the seed open to see what shape, called a cotyledon, is hidden within. It is said that if the shape is that of a fork we will experience a mild winter. If it is the shape of a spoon we will have an abundance of snow and if it is that of a knife we will have a cold blustery winter so the saying “cut like a knife”.

Another popular legend is the “wooly worm”. The wooly worm is a caterpillar made up of 13 segments representing the 13 weeks of winter. The browner the worm the milder the winter. The blacker it is the harsher the winter. The number of black segments represent how many weeks of bad winter weather we will have.

Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence proving either method works.

Here in the Midwest we are fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons. Here in Missouri there are times you can experience all four seasons in one day. We all have our favorite seasons for one reason or another but as for me I am delighted that the fall season has begun. I can smell the chili cooking and the smoke of the bonfire.

Beauty of Nature

It was another hot day in Southeast Missouri. I had the evening off so I decided to head out to the Bismark Conservation area.

The area is made up of 1,188 acres that surrounds the 220 acre lake, DiSalvo. It is the headwaters of the St Francis River. There are good numbers of bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.

This particular day I went chasing channel catfish. It is hot and the humidity was punishing, two ingredients of pop up thunderstorms. It sprinkled on me a couple of times. There was a thunderstorm skirting to the south. Lightning and thunder.

Mother Nature was presenting me with one spectacular show. I watched intently. The wind picked up and I enjoyed feeling it upon my face. So relaxing.

The fish weren’t cooperating. They had very little interest in the bait I was using, shrimp, hotdogs and night crawlers. At dark the bullhead catfish started to show interest in the shrimp. I ended up catching 3 bullheads before I had to give in and call it a night.

It turned out to be a great evening and it was much needed. Mother Nature was spectacular and gave me some great shots and I had it all to myself.

The Curse of Opinions

“Everyone has his or her own opinion and I welcome criticism. That’s why we have freedom of expression and that’s also what I stand for – but I won’t stand for insults.” – Ilkay Gundogan

Talk to the hand because the ears aren’t listening. This seems to be the mantra of today’s society. There use to be a time in this country when two people of different opinions could partake of a little spirited debate and walk away still friends. Not so much anymore. No such thing as peaceful debate. Instead insults and juvenile name calling is more the norm.

Everyone is different. We all have different likes and dislikes. Some people like summer some like winter. There are those that prefer more government and those that prefer less. They are opinions based upon a person’s thoughts and life experiences. It doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong.

The reality is everyone is going to have a difference of opinion. It’s a given and we as a society need to learn to accept it, learn to live with it and move on. We have to learn to agree to disagree.

“The only sin that we never forgive is a difference of opinions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I watch with great sadness as friends and family turn their backs on each other because of their differences of opinions. I myself have been called stupid, ignorant, moron etc. because my opinion is different than theirs.

I won’t apologize for my opinions nor do I expect you to apologize for yours. I am entitled to my opinion and you yours.

I am not responsible for your happiness. I am only responsible for mine. What I am responsible for is to be kind to you and to respect your opinions. No insults or name calling and to love you as I love myself.

It is time for us to stop, take a deep breath, think about what we are doing and fix it. To bury our differences, embrace each other and seek harmony. We need to eliminate the hate that is running rampant in our society. Can it be done? I don’t know but I do know the world would be a much better place and certainly worth the effort.

Thoughts?

“Utopias are often only premature truths.” – Alphonse De Lamartine

There are those that think the inequities in our society can be easily solved through a utopian society or government. They believe Utopianism is necessary to improve the human condition. The focus of literary utopias consist of equality in economics, government and justice. It all sounds great but the reality is societies don’t have the same desires and because of this conflict it’s impossible to satisfy society as a whole. In a true utopia everyone lives in harmony.

Is a utopia achievable? In a perfect world, maybe? It would have to be a world void of the hunger for power, greed and emotions. As long as these three are alive and well I for one believe it is highly unlikely that a true utopia could ever exist.

Greater minds than mine through the years have debated if a true utopia could ever exist.

Theodor W Adorno writes: “None of the abstract concepts comes close to fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace.”

My Take on Aging

Growing old doesn’t bother me. I know it is a given and I accept it. It’s the changes that concerns me.

Every year my hair grows grayer and my beard turns whiter. When I get out of bed in the mornings it sounds like someone poured milk on Rice Krispies.

The biggest disappointment is not being able to do the things I used to be able to do.

My strength wanes every year. Fifty pound feed sacks now feel like a hundred pounds. I easily run out of breath and my “Git” along seems to have done got up and got along all by itself. I can no longer play “pull my finger” because it is like playing Russian Roulette. The word “depends” takes on a whole new meaning. It now is known as a protective under garment. You now plan your outings around bathrooms. When I go fishing the number of steps decides where I will be fishing instead of where the fish may be hanging out. The song Gimme Three Steps is no longer about a jealous boyfriend and a man with hair colored yellow.

Growing up all I heard about was the “Golden Years” and I can tell you now the only thing Golden is my doctor’s wallet.

Finally I’ve started thinking a lot about the here after. I walk into a room thinking now what did I come in here after.

Now you have my thoughts on aging. Good thing is I am still on the right side of the dirt and hope to be for sometime yet. I just have to take it one day at a time and put on my big boy panties and say I can do this!