Autumn Has Arrived

Silver Mines Recreation Area

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves.!”Winnie the Pooh; Pooh’s Grand Adventure

Here in Missouri, autumn arrived with cooler temperatures and rain showers. Leaves have begun turning and some dropping to the ground. Some persimmons have started to ripen. Stores have begun stocking apple cider and caramel apples. It’s starting to look a lot like autumn.

As a child I loved raking leaves. I would make huge piles and run and jump into them. I managed to entertain myself for hours. My father tricked me into biting into a green persimmon. OMG! I didn’t think I would ever be able to spit again. Please don’t try that. Take my word for it. Soon the sky will be filled with the sounds of geese headed south for the winter.

Big River

Stores have already begun stocking Christmas decorations and it isn’t even October yet. Halloween will soon be upon us. I love Halloween. There was a time I would be planning a Halloween party. I used to have a hayride followed by a bonfire, chili and karaoke. Here in Missouri deer hunters will head to the woods and start scouting the woods for deer sign. Bow season is already happening. It won’t be long and there will be frost on the pumpkin.

This is the time of year that people start reflecting back on the year and see the things they have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Families and friends will gather together and celebrate. I enjoy cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. I have a Dutch Oven big enough to cook a thirteen-pound turkey in, it weighs 45 pounds. There is nothing better tasting than a turkey cooked in a Dutch Oven. I also cook the pies, dressing and other vittles in the Dutch Ovens. I have a fairly large assortment of them.

left to right- dressing, turkey, and sweet tater pie

It also begins the bonfire season. I do love me a good bonfire. I love to watch the flames dance and the smell of wood smoke. I usually have three or four fires a week. I love to camp this time of year also and I think the fishing is better than it is any other time of year. I do about 80% of the cooking outside so I enjoy the cooler temperatures.

I love a bonfire, how about you?
My cook area plus I have a Blackstone griddle.
Cooking a pot of beans

To those like me who enjoy the fall, I say Happy Fall to you! May your refrigerator be full of apple cider, your cupboard filled with caramel apples, and you have plenty of wood for the fire. This is also the time of year when a big bowl of chili tastes best. Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The Four Seasons/ What’s Your Favorite?

Trees are beginning to change on the Big River

The debate over the favorite season rages on. I looked at several polls and studies, but I didn’t find a clear winner. What say you?

Dogwoods bloom to usher in the spring.

A total of 40 states have picked spring as their favorite season. The spring weather and the countryside adorned with the blossoms of dogwood, redbud and many other flowering trees. The days are longer, and Americans begin to venture outside and dust off their barbecue pits. The gardeners begin preparing the ground for planting and the grass begins to green up.

With the summer the campers venture out.

A survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that they don’t want summer to end. Barbecue season goes into full swing, and they enjoy the warm weather. They begin venturing to the beach, rivers and lakes to enjoy water activities like boating, swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. They bring their campers out and start spending the weekends in state parks and campgrounds. Americans begin taking summer vacations and traveling. One survey revealed that 40% of Americans say summer is their favorite season.

Fall colors begin showing up on the Big River

Another survey says that 29% of Americans pick fall as their season of choice. The changing of leaf colors, cooler temperatures and the holidays may be the reason for this. With Halloween comes bonfires and hayrides. Then Thanksgiving brings family gatherings and good food. It’s a time when people reflect on the things, they have to be thankful for. The air begins to have a chill in it and chili, stews and soups become more popular at the dinner time.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Only 11% of Americans consider Winter their favorite season. Alaska and Vermont are the only two states that winter is the best season. Hot chocolate becomes quite popular. Americans enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace watching as the flames dance within. Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling have become quite popular. Snow “bunnies” rejoice at the sight of fresh fallen snow.

Each season has its pros and cons, and it depends on the likes and dislikes of each individual. Personally fall is my favorite season. Enjoy your favorite season.

My Love for Fly Fishing

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”

Vincent Van Gogh

One reason I have a great love for fly fishing, is because when fly fishing one is surrounded by the beauty of nature. One has to seek out a body of water where fish live. You aren’t going to find them in a shopping mall. No, one has to venture to a lake, stream or a river.

When fly fishing, the angler ties a fly on the end of a monofiliment line and casts into places he/she think fish may be holding. The monofiliment line is tied onto a heavier line which helps to cast the fly. When fly fishing the angler tries to present the fly, which looks like an insect, in such a way, that the fish thinks it is real and takes the bait. I find fly fishing to be a lot more fun than using a spinning outfit. For one reason, even when you aren’t catching anything, you are still busy casting. It depends on an angler’s personal taste as to what they prefer.

I prefer a river or stream where I wade into the water presenting my flies to the fish, hoping to entice a fish into feeding on my fly. My presentation has to mimic the real bait. It really is a challenge and to me that equals excitement. I also find it relaxing and helps me to clear my mind and connect with nature.

My fly fishing buddy David Tripp fishing on the Big River in Missouri
The prize

Forty-five minutes of fly fishing at Bennett Spring in Missouri
Bennett Spring in Missouri, one of Missouri’s four trout parks
Caught this bass at Giessing Lake located in Engler Park in Farmington, MO

Some anglers like fly fishing and some don’t, for different reasons. As for me I love being surrounded by nature and the peace it brings. With the first cast I can feel the stress caused by everyday life begin to melt away and my mind leaves that part of life behind and begins to focus on the healing powers of nature. After a day of fly fishing, I leave the water recharged and feeling alive. It is a great feeling.

The St. Francis River

“The river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men.”

Mark Twain

The St. Francis River is 426 miles long and is located in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. It is only floatable in spring or after heavy rains. It passes through Wappapello Lake that was a result of a dam that was constructed in 1941. Anglers can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. There are also catfish, bluegill, sunfish, and crappie. The St. Francis is the most diverse Ozark stream.

The Hubb’s, golden and spothanded crayfish make the St. Francis their home and can only be found in the Ozarks of Missouri and northern Arkansas. The St. Francis crayfish is only found here and nowhere else in the world. Six mussel species are also found here.

Two state parks that the St. Francis River meanders through are Silver Mines Recreation Area and Sam A Baker state park and both have camping available. Sam A Baker has a separate equestrian campground. They also have hiking trails and picnic areas. Baker also has equestrian and bicycle trails.

High water over the bridge in Silver Mines
The water recedes

I have many fond memories of the river as an adult and as a child. I don’t know how many pounds of catfish we caught. We used to pay a farmer to cross his field to the St. Francis and we would set up camp. He had an old wooden boat he would also rent us. One night around 11 pm we were tight line fishing for catfish. Our camp was below Wappapello dam and too far away to hear the siren indicating they opened the dam gates. My mom stands up and said here comes a boat. Yep, you guessed it. Sure enough, our boat. We had pulled it up on the sand bar around the bend. The water had come up and set the boat free. We started trying to hook it and my dad finally hooked it and reeled it in.

My Take on Photography

“Every artist has a central story to tell, and the and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”

Gregory Crewdson

Photography is an art, and the photographer is the artist. There are those that will say this isn’t true however I have to disagree. Both must have a passion for what they do, along with creativity and a good imagination. A photographer only has one time to snap a photo then that moment is gone forever and can’t be recreated.

When l am framing a shot, I examine every possible angle I can shoot it from, then I imagine what I want it to look like. It requires an eye for detail, patience and flexibility. Light is a key composition and can greatly affect the photo. In a studio one can use artificial light but in nature one must learn to use what light is available.

When I take a picture, the subject must excite me. I sell my photographs and I have to rely on people buying them. If I’m not excited, I can’t expect the viewer to be excited. I have to capture the viewers’ attention and hope they buy it.

In Bruce Barnbaum’s book The Art of Photography Mr Barnbaum lists 14 elements of composition. They are light, color, contrast and tone, line, form, pattern, balance, movement, positive and negative space, texture, camera position, focal length, depth of field and shutter speed. There is so much more involved than point and shoot.

I am basically a landscape photographer. I love nature and am mesmerized by a river. Sunrises and sunsets always grab my attention. It never seems to fail that I see the best ones when I am driving down the road. They can be short lived, and the photographer has to act quickly. When I go hiking, I always have my camera with me. Quite frankly I suck at portraits, and I am in awe of those who have mastered it. Wedding photographers I think have the hardest job. It takes a lot of patience and creativity with some imagination. I am in awe of them.

There was only about 10 minutes between these two photos, and it changed quickly. I took them in Silver Mines Recreation area. This is the St. Francis River that meanders through the park. It is located between Ironton and Fredericktown, Mo. Kayakers love this area and have kayak races here in the spring when the water is up. When the water level is up the kayakers head for the river.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my photos. In closing I am going to post a few more photos I took when hiking at Silver Mines.

The first two were taken of the trail and the last one was a photo of what is left of the damn that was built when the old silver mine was in operation. Thanks for reading and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love.

Life Is Like A River

St Francis River

On a recent visit to Silver Mines Recreation Area, I sat and watched the water of the river flowing under the bridge located in the park.

When we arrived at the park the water was up and running over the bridge I was sitting on, now watching the river run under the bridge. Like life the river has its lows and highs.

St Francis River

As I sat looking up river I watched as the river rolled past the rocks headed for its final destination. It rolled past the rocks so gracefully not letting it stop it or slow it down. These rocks could represent the obstacles in our life. We need to approach our obstacles in life like the river deals with the rocks. We need to learn to roll around them and leave them behind us like the river and be thankful they are behind us.

St Francis River

At the end of the rapids there are deeper pools of slow moving water. Those waters represent the slow, peaceful times in our life when we can relax and enjoy the peace in our lives. A time when we can reflect back on where we have been and what we have accomplished. A time to be thankful for surviving all the obstacles we have faced.

The Campfire

“The campfire is the most important part of camping. It’s far more than just a source of heat or light. It’s the heart of civilization. All other activities revolve around the fire.”

David Lubar

Many a night I have sat in front of a campfire and watched the flames perform their magical dance. A campfire can calm the soul and renew the spirit.

It’s a place where stories are born, world problems are solved and some of the biggest fish are caught. It’s a place for singing with an acoustic guitar showing up occasionally.

The campfire is used to roast hot dogs, make s’mores a favorite of the young ones. Let us not forget it is the perfect place to tell a ghost story.

If you have never sat around a campfire put it on your bucket list. A lot of friendships have been made around the campfire.

Pickle Springs Natural Area

Pickle Springs Natural Area is located in St. Genevieve County in Missouri. Inside the area is a 1.9-mile loop that is rated moderate. Average time to cover trail is 52 minutes. It is popular among hikers, trail runners and bird watchers. The trail is open all year-round, but you will have to leave your pups at home. Dogs aren’t allowed.

The area was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. Inside the area you will find unique rock outcroppings, seasonal waterfalls, bluff overlooks, shallow caves and be prepared to cross wet weather creek crossings. You might want to take along a pair of binoculars or camera. There is ample wildlife to spot. The area has some steep uphill climbs, bridged creek crossings and you will find the trail is well maintained.

You will find 250 species of vascular plants and rose azalea. Creek inhabitants include four toed salamanders, pickerel frogs, green frogs and southern leopard frogs. Also found in the creek is a crustacean, amphipod, known to be only found here.

From Farmington, MO, take Highway 32 east, then Route AA east, and Dorlac Road north.

Devil’s Honeycomb Trail (Hughes Mountain)

Located in the Hughes Mountain Natural Area is a trail called Devil’s Honeycomb Trail. It consists of glades, savanna, old fields and it is half forest. Polygonal columns of rhyolite make up what the locals call the Devil’s Honeycomb and is located at the highest point of the mountain. It is one of Missouri’s geologic wonders.

Around 1.5 billion years ago the rocks were liquefied by volcanoes associated with the St. Francois Mountains. The molten rock contracted, and as it cooled cracked and created multi-sided columns and created a rhyolite formation that locals named the Devil’s Honeycomb. The Precambrian rock outcrops are among the most ancient, exposed rocks in the United States.

The Hughes Mountain Natural Area is located off highway M, 3 miles southeast of Irondale.

Hughes Mountain Natural Area

Hughes Mountain is located in southern Washington County in Missouri. The area was designated a natural area in 1982. It is made up of a combination of igneous glades and three types of forests. Precambrian rock outcrops found in the area are 1.5 billion years old making them among the most ancient, exposed rocks in the United States.

The area is named after the first European settler, who arrived in 1810, John Hughes. The Conservation Department purchased the land from the Hughes family. The rhyolite formation located at its highest point is known by locals as the Devil’s Honeycomb. Because of my late start and other time restraints I was unable to make my way to this area. Another trip is planned for the near future.

Glades located within the area are natural openings located on the western and southern slopes where native grasses and a variety of wildflowers can be found. Glade plants include little bluestem, broomsedge, poverty grass, flame flower, prickly pear cactus, yellow star grass, spiderwort, and wild hyacinth.

The trail is 1.6 miles long and is an out-and-back trail near Irondale, MO. I found it to be a moderately challenging trail but was fairly well maintained with trail arrows. On average it takes 48 minutes to complete however time gets away from you when snapping photos. The trail is open year round and dogs are welcome but they must be on a leash. The trail is popular among birders, hikers and runners. However, if you see me running, run, because something is chasing me.

NOTE: All pictures were taken by me and the property of Double D Acres LLC and may not be used without my permission.