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.

Growing Up In The 50s and 60s

As a child my “journey of life” was lived as a country boy. We always lived near small towns and both grandparents lived on farms. Common sense and respect were alive and well and a handshake meant something. Life was simple.

Following are some of the things that I remember from my childhood.

We said yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am and thank you. Ate fried tater sandwiches. Mom canning what we grew in the garden. Family vacations. The whole family sitting around the supper table. Collecting soda bottles and turning them in to redeem the deposit that was on them. Going Snipe hunting. Catching lightning bugs and putting them in glass jars. Experienced snipe hunting. We went fishing and hunted. We didn’t Skype or Tweet. Our social media consisted of grandpa’s pond. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning before school. We used a dictionary, encyclopedia and the library because internet service was nonexistent. If you got caught cussing you got your mouth washed out with soap. We rode in the back of a pickup. We respected the flag and stood for the National Anthem. Stores were closed on Sundays and holidays. Parents didn’t hesitate to bust our butts when we did something wrong.

It was clean honest living and a lot of the things we did aren’t even allowed any more. I don’t ever remember hearing about mass shootings. Hmm.

Update On My Eros

2013 – 2019

“Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us, and make our lives a little brighter, and they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow. – Dan Gemeinhart

He will be missed deeply. Lots of good memories. Cancer is an ugly disease. RIP my good friend.

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.

Social Media; the Good, Bad, and the Ugly

“The more social media we have, the more we think we are connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.” – JR

Today as I was brush hogging pastures the topic of Social Media (SM) bounced around in my brain cells. How powerful is SM and how many people realize how powerful it is?

So many have the mentality that it must be true because I saw it on the internet. Personally I view the internet as a communication tool.

A bit in the horses mouth is a tool used by the rider to communicate to the horse. If used correctly it is a good thing but if used incorrectly it can hurt the horses mouth making it difficult to get the bit in the horses mouth the next time the rider wants to ride. This also applies to SM.

It is used to spread lies and some use it as a bullying tool. How do you stop it? That my friend is a $64 question.

I did a search on SM etiquette and at Moneycrashers.com I found an article written by Brian Martucci outlining what he thinks is proper etiquette.

1) Don’t mix business and pleasure.

2) Use caution posting and tagging photos.

3) Be self-centered in small doses.

4) Understand that your sense of humor

isn’t universal.

5) Don’t be reactive.

6) Avoid over-sharing.

7) Build a legacy for the future.

8). Don’t misrepresent yourself.

9). Don’t drink and tweet.

10). Understand each platform’s best

practices.

I was able to find some statistical data about Facebook.

1. 1.15 billion mobile daily active users.

2). 2.38 billion monthly active users.

3). 1.56 billion people log onto FB daily.

4). 1.74 billion mobile active users.

Ten million, on average, use the “Like” and share buttons.

307 million Europeans are on FB.

25 to 34 is the most common age demographic.

5 new profiles are created every second.

76% of women and 66% of males are FB users.

Highest traffic occurs midweek between 1pm to 3 pm.

83 million fake profiles.

300 million photo uploads per day.

20 minutes is the average time folks spend on FB.

Now let that all sink in.

SM brings old friends together and can destroy current friendships. Many people will say and post things that they would not have done face to face.

SM can be used for so many things and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what is real news and fake news. Be careful how you use SM because it can come back and bite you in the arse. Stop, think about the consequences and use care before you hit that button.

True Friendship

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” Woodrow T Wilson

Friendship is the glue that binds people to each other. True friendship can bring happiness into one’s life.

Fair weather friends tend to give friendship a bad reputation. They cause heartbreak and create a stormy relationship.

“A friend is someone who understandS your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are.” – Unknown

True friendship is when you both realize there are certain topics you have to avoid talking about.A silent understanding that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree. It’s respecting each other’s believes and ideologies so as not to jeopardize your friendship.

“The friendship that can cease has never been real.”- St. Jerome

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Life Mysteries

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” – Oscar Wilde

For those who don’t know me I retired from horseshoeing and took a job as a grounds keeper for 3 cemeteries located in Farmington, MO. As I go about cutting the grass I often wonder about the people buried there and what they were like when they were alive.

There was the body of a man that came into the mortuary. Very little information came with him. The funeral director tried their best to find family members but to no avail. All they basically knew was his birth date and death date and that he was married. The only option left for the funeral director was to bury him instead of cremation.

The owner of the mortuary wanted to find someone to say some words over him before he was lowered into his final resting place. So I volunteered for the job.

In putting together some words for a service my mind began to wonder about who he was. What did he do in life? Did he die alone? What kind of person was he? Did he have any family left? So many questions that I will never know the answer to.

The funeral was held the Thursday before Good Friday. I was pall bearer and minister and went back to cutting grass after the funeral. A worker for the vault company and two grave diggers were the other pall bearers. RIP! So much mystery and no answers.

The gentleman was lowered into the ground around 10:40 a.m.. l went back to cutting grass. Around noon I looked back and noticed an older lady standing at the grave. I started to go talk to her but then I realized she had her reasons and I respected that and kept cutting grass. After a few minutes she left. I still wonder who she was but was happy somebody who obviously knew him came to send him off. Life mysteries.

Unfathomable Determination

The rain has pretty much settled in for the night. I sit here with my eyes closed listening to the raindrops dancing on the tin roof creating a soothing symphony.

My mind focuses on those brave men and women, the pioneers, who settled the west. They had no idea of the challenges they would face. The only idea they had of where they were going was the tales they had in there minds put there by the adventurers who went before them.

There were stories of feast and famine. Massacres. Whole wagon trains who died and didn’t fulfill their dreams. Disease and prairie fires. Yet these people had a dream that so obsessed them they were willing to sacrifice anything and everything to follow their dream. That profound dedication my friends died with them and no longer exists in this country anymore.

I don’t know if you have ever been camping in the rain but I can tell you from experience it can be very miserable.

I sit here in the coziness of my cabin listening to the rain and I have a vision of men, women, and children huddled together under the rain fly of a wagon trying to get their nourishment so they will have the stamina to do another 10 to 20 miles beginning at dawn. One can only imagine the sore muscles they must have been nursing. Wondering how much further they have to travel. How many more river crossings and broken wagon wheels they will have to endure. Will it be their wagon that breaks this time? How many more of their possessions will they have to leave behind so they can lighten the load on the wagons so they can get them over the mountain?

With these things dancing through their minds it had to be difficult to sleep. Knowing all to well they needed to sleep so they could get the much needed rest to complete another leg of their journey.

The fingers of dawn ascend on their camp. The rain has stopped and the day promises sunshine to dry things out. They begin packing the wagons, hitching the teams and checking the wagons so they can start out once again. They have to battle the annoying suction created by the mud delivering another hardship for them to deal with.

Guts and grit kept them pushing toward their destination and failure was not an option. True representation of determination and faith. They not only needed faith in God. They had to have faith in those leading them and most of all faith in themselves. There were those who celebrated and those who endured heartbreak. So many died along those trails who never lost sight of their dream and died trying to bring their dream to reality.

People could learn a lot from these pioneers and use it in their lives to achieve their dreams. Don’t ever stop believing. They didn’t.

Spread the love and be kind to one another. It doesn’t cost you anything.

Walk Your Own Way

“I don’t know where all the rivers run. I don’t know how far. I don’t know how come. But I am gonna die believin’ each step that I take ain’t worth the ground that I walk on if we don’t walk it our own way.” From the song Bang A Drum

I once was a follower. I was afraid to do things my own way. I was afraid of being wrong or offending someone. Then one day I heard Chris LeDoux sing these words and it caused an awakening in me that changed my life.

I did a lot of soul searching and looked back at my life in a new way. A way that I had never really imagined.

I will admit that I am hardheaded and by far I am not the sharpest tool in the shed but I realized I had the right to do things and believe the way I wanted too. Right, wrong or indifferent I should believe in me.

There are those who will try to make me believe I wasn’t able to make the right decisions on my own. That I would fail if I didn’t listen to the majority that instituted what they believed to be right for me. News flash, the majority isn’t always right.

I thought to myself how could these people tell me what was right for me when they had never experienced my heartaches, my celebrations and other life experiences. We can’t let people live our lives for us. We need to walk this world in our own way.

It was one of the most important changes I made in my life. It raised my self esteem to new heights. I finally felt like somebody. Don’t get me wrong. Yes I made bad decisions and choices and still do but I made them. No one else did and most importantly I learned from those mistakes and couldn’t blame anyone but myself.

No matter what you do in life or what decision you make there is always going to be someone who disagrees with you. It is inevitable. What is important is how you handle the situation. Do you cower and relinquish your opinion to please those people or do you stand up for what YOU believe in and stand your ground?

As for me I am going to fight for what I believe in even if I stand alone. Maybe it is because I have grown older but I really don’t care what people think of me any longer. I have walked the earth long enough to know that I am never going to please everyone and not everyone is going to agree with me. Not everyone will like my writing or political views. Not everyone will like my photography or my horseshoe art. What is important is how I handle it and that I always “walk it my own way”. If we don’t learn to believe in ourselves we do our spirit, soul and our being a great injustice.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is so deeply appreciated. You may agree or not agree with my opinion but if you don’t I respect that because we all are entitled to our opinion. We don’t however have the right to demean, harass, or stoop to name calling if we disagree which seems to be the norm for so many people.

Remember to spread the love and be kind to one another. Kindness doesn’t cost anyone anything.