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.

Don’t Know How Much I Can Endure

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones

I just had to have my Great Pyrenees euthanized on November 6, 2019. Cancer had attacked his body and he lost the war. He was only six years old.

Today, January 22,2020 I had a veterinarian appointment for my Australian Shepherd, Kate. X-Rays showed her lungs were riddled with tumors. I was devastated.

Kate was born on January 1, 2011. We became very attached to each other. I was a horseshoer and she was my ride dog. We were inseparable.

The vet thinks she has 1 to 2 weeks left with me before she crosses the bridge. Her crossing will leave a huge hole in my heart. Those who don’t love and respect animals like I do think I am being silly. For those of you who understand what it is like to love or be loved by a dog I thank God for you because you get it.

Wayne White

“The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of its master.” – Unknown

Ozark Rivers of the Past

“Only going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

If I could ever spend time with a person of the past it would be John Muir. He explored the wilderness in the 1800s. The majority of the time he was alone. Him and the creatures that inhabited the area.

His love for the mountains was comparable to my love for the Ozark rivers of Missouri. His books and essays were influential in my admiration and respect for nature.

I can only imagine what kind of experience it would have been to explore the Ozark rivers in the 1800s.

Many times when I am camped on a gravel bar sitting in front of a fire, I find myself fantasizing about what it would have been like back then.

I imagine what the water would have been like free of pollutants. River banks and gravel bars void of litter and unmolested by ATVs. A place not yet touched by the hand of man and his idea of progress.

Without the infringement of artificial light, created by near by towns and dusk to dawn lights, the stars had to have the appearance of magnificent diamonds in the night sky.

It boggles my mind to think one would probably not see another human for days or weeks. One would experience the true feeling of being alone. Lost in the magnificence of Mother Earth and Her beauty. I can only imagine.

The Ozark rivers of Missouri gives one an avenue to seek and find one’s inner being. A place to observe the true beauty of Mother Earth. A place to heal their spirit and cleanse their soul. To enjoy it one must clear their mind and become one with the river. Then and only then can you understand my love for the Ozark rivers.

November Day On The River

The weather in Southeast Missouri was exceptional today. It was in the sixties!!! When I heard today’s forecast on Thursday I started planning for today.

When I got to the Leadwood Access on the Big River the air temperature was 35 degrees. I started down river around 8:45 a.m.. I am guessing water temp was in the low forties. Water was clear and dropping.

I had decided I was going to use the Rapala floating minnow, Rebel medium Wee Craw and a jig with a crawfish trailer.

Started out wind was calm but picked up about 10 am. Beautiful blue sky with some cloud puffs. Lots of sunshine and the temp began to rise.

My float started at the Leadwood Access on the Big River located in Missouri. The fishing started out slow and pretty much stayed that way. I did manage to catch 4 but only got pics of three.

I caught a spotted bass that went 10 inches but when I put it on the board to measure him he slipped out of my hands and back into the water before I could get a pic.

Caught this spotted bass fishing the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

Caught this small mouth near the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

The beautiful fall colors of the Missouri countryside had fallen to the ground for the most part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe next year.

I caught two before lunch. Missouri streams can be tough fishing in late fall when water temps have become frigid and clear enough to see a crawfish on the bottom in 4 foot of water. It’s a shallow river for the most part. The stretch I floated probably had an average water depth of 4 foot.

Lunch on a gravel bar on the Big River. After lunch I couldn’t buy a hit. I had several small bass and perch follow the lure all the way to the boat but didn’t take the bait.

The last two bass I caught at the end of my float. I caught them in Owl Creek. It dumps into the Big River at the Bone Hole Access where my float ended.

If you are ever up for some good small mouth fishing I recommend the Big River.

Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll 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

Transcendentalists

“A man in debt is so far a slave” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the early 1800s a philosophical movement took root in the Eastern United States. It began due to the disapproval against the intellectualism and spirituality during that time.

It’s characteristics were:

1) Self Reliance

2) A connection to nature

3) Free-thought

4) Nonconformity

5) Confidence

They believed:

To transcend the real world one must contemplate nature.

Everything is a reflection of God.

Instead of being a follower one was better off entertaining the idea of individualism and self-reliance.

True feelings and intuition were superior to book knowledge.

Instinct would give one a better understanding of God’s Spirit.

It was an American literary, political and philosophical movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Transcendentalism in great depth. Other noted authors were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker.

Transcendentalists believed one should cut ties with organized religion and politics and become an independent thinker in order to achieve their best. It was also believed that organized religion and political parties led to the corruption of the purity of an individual.

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

However Transcendentalism relied heavily on an individual’s cognitive ability or intuition. It was thought that those trying to yield to conformity at the time, became unhappy and dissatisfied.

Is Transcendentalism still in existence today?

That is a good question. There are those that say yes and there are plenty of no votes. It obviously isn’t as popular as it was in the nineteenth century.

Simplicity can be seen by acts of individual kindness and honesty. The importance of nature has not faded through the years. It is alive and well in today’s world. The beauty of nature still inspires and awakens the spirit of many individuals. Self-reliance and confidence isn’t as prevalent as it used to be but still exists to some degree. As far as nonconformity it is pretty much nonexistent but can be found in the “preppers” and those who choose to sell everything and live off the grid and become self reliant.

If you would like to learn more about Transcendentalism I urge you to read Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Be kind to everyone and spread the love.

My Hiding Place

The river is my sanctuary. When I am sitting on a gravel bar at 3 in the morning, looking up at the stars I sometimes feel like I am the only person on earth.

As I sit there I listen to the soothing song of the crickets, tree frogs, and bull frogs and begin to meditate. I clear my mind of negativity. I feel a calmness around me. I don’t have much but I have this special place to come to and heal my mind, spirit and soul. A recharge of sorts.

As I sit there looking into the fire my mind begins to wander. I wonder if anyone else has camped here? Did they appreciate it? Did they relish the silence, or did the silence scare them?

Did anyone sit here and drink in the night sky filled with stars and are they as elated as I am when I see a star fall from the heavens?

The river is a mystical place for me. It’s a place where I can become one with Mother Nature.

There is so much life on the river.

The important part is I feel safe here. Even alone on a sandbar in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark, I am in my element, my safe place. Everyone should have a place like this to go to. It boosts your mental state and improves your peace of mind.

It can be a studio you do your art work in, a den where you put your inner thoughts on paper. It may be your quilting room or in a flower or vegetable garden. It may be on the back of your favorite equine. It is a safe place where you can have peace of mind and healing. It should be a calming place where you shed all the negativity that you have been carrying. Your place.

Feel free to tell us about your safe place in the “comments” section. It will be interesting to see the variety of hiding places used to get right with yourself and deal with the negativity of the world. A place to fill your heart, soul, spirit, and mind with love.

Easter Sunday at Bismarck Lake

It was a beautiful morning to hit the lake. The temp was perfect and Mother Nature had began painting the countryside with the colors of red bud, dogwood, honey locust and various wild flower blossoms.

The wind however was gusting to 30 mph making it hard to fish. There were a few folks catching crappie but I was after the largemouth bass.

I guess Wayne’s Diner didn’t serve up what they wanted. I did finally manage to catch a bass and a crappie.

is a i

Later that day I rigged my poles for catfish but they must have not liked what I was serving because I didn’t even get a bite.

All in all it was a great day. I am hopelessly addicted to the water and fishing. I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

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.

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.