Greetings to My World

You’re such a tease,

Mother Nature,

We aim to please,

Mother Nature,

But you’re so fickle.

**. **. **. **

We sure miss you,

Mr. Sunshine.

You chase the blues,

Mr. Sunshine.

We all get tickled!

**. **. **. **

The coffee is hot,

Miss Morning,

Outdoors is not,

Miss Morning.

Still need a hoodie.

**. **. **. **

Peepers peep 24/7,

Every day.

Sounds like heaven

Every day.

We all yell “Goody!”

**. **. **. **

Nights are so clear,

Mr. Moon.

We hold you dear,

Mr. Moon.

You make hearts sing.

**. **. **. **

Days get longer,

Mr. Time.

We feel stronger,

Mr. Time,

When we have spring!

** ** ** **

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To Tube…or Not To Tube

Floating the lower Current River on a tube did not catch the imaginations of any river rats until a group of high school boys from Doniphan jumped on innertubes at Deer Lodge and headed to the tie yard in town…back in the mid ’50s.

Or so it seems to John Bingham, a 1958 graduate of Doniphan High School. He doesn’t remember details, other than not recalling anyone tubing before he and his school buddies tried it. Back then it was the norm to tip the tube, as though inside a giant cup, to sip the cool clear water of the Current, when the soda was gone, that is. And if a soda tube flipped, there were enough floaters along who could dive and retrieve the bounty, once even acquiring an extra, to make it a case of 25 identical bottles. (Bingham’s soda tube was an Ozarkian version of the cooler tube – dare I say ‘redneck’ version? It was a tractor tube covered with a tarp that cradled the drinks).

Later, as a businessman in town, Bingham loaned tubes to any who asked, if they stopped by his service station, Johnny’s Mobil Station, located in the vicinity of the present-day E&S Pharmacy. There were no outfitters back then. He didn’t realize he was the forerunner of what would eventually become a major tourist attraction in an area that outlived its fame as the railroad tie capital of the world.

I am a transplant to Ripley County. My parents, Cal and Evelyn Pearson, made the decision to exit south from St. Louis with me and my siblings Glenn and Phyllis in June of 1969. Summer visits made to the area before the move always included a trip to Current River, either to Float Camp or to an area I have lost track of just across the state line in Arkansas, close to the ferry at Pitman, or to Big Springs, a favorite spot even if Dad did make me get in a boat and take a ride sometimes. Tubes were part of the images I remember, though I didn’t make a river float trip until I became a Ripley Countian. (As youngsters, my brother and I did tube Logan Creek with our uncle Jimmy Bizzell as the guide). My first tube purchase was from Butler Tire Shop on State Street in town, back when there were parking meters and diagonal parking lines on downtown streets.

Early floats on Current River included cousins gathered for vacation at various grandparents’ homes. The Pearsons on A Highway, the Halls just across the state line on Snake Road, and the Bizzells, adjacent to their grocery on 160 East, hosted their rowdy grandkids, deeply etching memories complete with fish fries, homemade ice cream, cool drinks of well water from a basin with a dipper, trips to the outhouse, baths in washtubs, parental “suggestions” not to slam the screen door, jars of lightning bugs and snipe hunts.

Bingham did not believe Deer Lodge was more than just a place to get in the river, but by the time I was running around the area, there was a store there, just beyond the rock at the end of the path that led from Float Camp to that favorite launching spot. My first canoe trip was with a cousin from Indiana, but I can’t remember where we rented the canoe, if we rented it. For some reason the notorious root wads didn’t make an appearance on my stage of memories until that canoe trip. (Jeff, what does that say about letting you sit in the back?!)

Later, as an adult, I would rent a tube from Floyd and Sue Lynxwiler, operating out of a building they built on the edge of town, their leap into the floating business before opening Hobo’s, now Rocky River Resort. Much later I would work a couple of summers at RRR, helping locals and tourists alike relive their own early memories and create new ones, with Current River as the backdrop.

Who could have foreseen that, thirty years after my turbulent arrival to Ripley County, turbulent because it was the eve of my senior year in high school, Frank Winford andI would count on Current River to launch a kayaking business, KC’s on the Current, at a location on Y Highway that played a role in my early river memories? See-Lou’s originated at that location; it was the last stop before arriving at Float Camp, a stop for ice, RC Cola, probably bologna and chips. Sometimes it was the first stop after leaving the river for ice cream and maybe a chocolate or grape soda.

KC’s branched out to become a concessionaire of the US Forest Service. Oddly, I had briefly served campers in the same location as a college student, though in a different capacity. To help in the summer outreach ministry of First Baptist Church, I had hosted a children’s Sunday School Class in the little bandstand that used to be near campsite # 16. How neat it has been to realize that our river, along with its recreational options, is responsible for endless connections and reconnections of folks we know, or folks who know folks we know. Sometimes we even stumble on a relative! It is curious to hear how visitors discover Ripley County; it isn’t always due to surfing the net. The stories and connections abound.

One day, as I worked with broom and trash bag in hand, an elderly gentleman approached and told me the story of the house that used to sit on the spot where the pavilion is at Float Camp. It was a house he had lived in. How I wish I had put down that broom and trash bag, rummaged around for a scrap of paper and a pen, and recorded the story he shared that afternoon. As one of KC’s owners, I had the chance to meet Seeward Chailland, of See-Lou’s Grocery and See-Lou’s Country Music Theater. It took quite a bit of dynamite to make the site suitable for the big yellow building that housed the first KC’s on the Current.

It has come full circle. KC’s now greets tubers and campers at the place where the Lynxwilers initiated their seasonal business, next to Riverfront Park and the T.L. Wright Memorial Boat Landing, the site that was the hugest tie yard ever to this city girl who visited regularly during her childhood. (I vaguely remember the depot, but I distinctly remember the smell of the ties.) Kathy and Stan Schultz and Cindy and Rodney Moore are creating new waves in that business, expanding the original vision. Winford and I still work at KC’s, enjoying reconnections with customers who return summer after summer, some who have become friends.

A brief “connection” with John Bingham at McDonald’s during breakfast was the initial spark for this reminiscence. Sparks for stories were going in every direction, but the flames were dampened to contain them, otherwise a wildfire with no boundaries would have engulfed the author. She welcomes additional sparks as she continues her jaunt down memory lane, warmed by the stories as they unfold.

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Ghostly Torment

Since I fancy myself a feline fanatic –

Though at my abode you will see only two –

The simple title made it my first pick

Of the ghostly tales by one Le Fanu.

** ** ** **

In days gone by, before devices and screens,

Adventures weren’t virtual but lived in the flesh.

Stories abounded of all each had seen,

And surely with the supernatural did easily mesh.

** ** ** **

The moral of ‘White Cat’ or any tale read?

(Black cats, not white, these days are feared).

Belief dictates down which path you’ll be led,

Omens of misfortune in many minds are seared.

** ** ** **

Be prudent, my friend. What enters one’s mind

Could make wines of life bitter and wasted.

Cradle one’s choices so later you’ll find

With grace and love, sweet joy you have tasted!

** ** ** **

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Daylight Confusion Time

I wonder aloud, “What time is it really?” The phone does not agree with the stove. So the ‘real’ time it WOULD have been flashes from the kitchen. And the REAL time I have to live by is in my face on the screen. Changing the stove clock can’t be postponed as I tend to do in the fall. If I forget to mentally add the hour now versus mentally subtracting the hour in the fall, I will be late or miss an event entirely.

When I start my car – a vehicle with Wifi and Bluetooth and a whole menu of stuff I am not smart enough to find much less maneuver through – the clock visible on the touch screen will agree with the one in my kitchen. Illogical, don’t you think? My brain will be challenged beyond determining the ‘real’ time. Now it knows it will have to find the seldom-used neural pathway to change the time in a 2018 Buick and do it quickly and smoothly on the first try so as not to overly fluster the owner/operator. ..of the brain and the car.

Last night OnStar remotely unlocked my car. “Are you in a safe place?” the magical technician asked. Would not have helped to fudge and say no when the magician could probably see me standing next to my car in my own carport. But it WAS dark, and there WERE noises among the trees! I wonder if OnStar has the mystical powers to remotely change the clock?

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Embracing Retirement

Is there really a way to plan for retirement?

I cherished the idea of living without the bells that tightly structured my life for so many years. How free I would surely feel, going and doing, or not going and doing, following my heart’s longings and my mind’s tuggings!

A gal pal of mine asked my advice for a summer sabbatical in her future. I can always spout off info I have read so I did just that, based on the printed word, not my experiences. For some reason she thinks I do it well.

Total lack of structure isn’t quite as liberating as it might first seem. Procrastination is my middle name, but, in the complete void of deadlines, procrastination can disappear into the black hole of nothingness. Some tasks/plans never materialize without an endpoint in the process.

So what am I learning about retirement from its midst? For me, it is a batter of routine, flexibility, passion and discovery, with added pinches of mystery and surprise to ward off hints of boredom.

Routines promote health by allowing time for rest and nourishment and giving a sense of stability. Otherwise, with all the flexibility at their fingertips, retirees might seem irresponsible going hither and yon anytime, involved in formerly neglected beloved activities and experimenting with the unfamiliar.

What-ifs can become why-nots. Skills and talents can develop into passions. Discovery can invite adventure. Never-ending to-do lists can suffocate it all, tempting us to postpone life until… Perhaps the key to embracing retirement is embracing balance. Get out of the way and laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Crocus Bloom

A solitary crocus bloomed in my yard in February. Its symmetry and vibrancy startled me. This camera angle baffles the senses momentarily. It’s real and atop a tiny stem!

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Alphabet War

Writer quote by Bradbury.jpg

I woke up looking like I had wrestled with tornado and lost. Nightclothes every which-a-way and hair way beyond the bedhead hashtag. I woke up feeling thoroughly exhausted, too, because I was. Normally I don’t sleep through an early morning text. Ears ever on alert for that first smile from an intriguing soul or those too-few words from that child o’ mine. But I missed that first smile at the moment it appeared; I still smiled nonetheless but lost my chance to reply in a timely fashion. But I did reply and promptly found myself lured back into that sleep beyond knowing I was falling asleep, beyond any sort of subconscious awareness of being in this world. Then…pop goes the weasel…suddenly awake and wondering how two hours could pass without my knowing.

The fatigue came from that pesky subconscious of mine, usually just close enough to the surface of reality that I can solve the world’s problems if not my own. But that night it would not let me sleep because it had taken my dissatisfaction with an article I had written and blown it up into an all-out war with words and the alphabet that supports them. So there I was sitting at my desk with the laptop humming at 3 in the morning. (Oh, perhaps if it had been the ever-powerful 4 in the morning, I might have had quicker resolution to the conflict).

When I closed the laptop I thought I had won that battle. Back to snuggle under the covers to sleep peacefully through the rest of the darkness. No, not to happen. I had failed to include the latest example of synchronicity that makes me think I am walking around with a perennial ‘deer in the headlights’ look. That was the whole reason the piece had needed revision, to make that inclusion seem fitting. To clarify…this is simply a blog post that may or may not appear in my column in my small town’s local weekly. It is not profound or outlandish, would not win any literary acclaim, but it is a piece that is significant enough to me the writer that I want to make sure the few who do read it sense that wonder.

So there I was sitting cross-legged on the bed so I could enjoy the little bit of warmth I had captured since still chilled from my post at the desk at 3 am. My phone would suffice. Mind and fingers clicking, I ‘finished’ my war with words, until I read my words aloud, that is. Proofing aloud has always served me well. It seems my ears are better at that than are my eyes. So, determined to stop and regroup after each reading, I plodded along. The ultimate sign of ‘perfection’ (writers get that idiocy – revision never ends) would be having read it through three consecutive times without fixing even a comma. I read and edited, read and edited, read and edited. I suppose it is a good thing that all the needed edits didn’t surface simultaneously. I might have surrendered, despairingly waving the top sheet that no one thinks we need anyway.

Three hours later I declared a truce. I had read it through only twice without changing a syllable. Ta-DA! I may never read it again, but it has been sent to the powers that print. It has been duly copied and pasted into my blog though I can’t recall the status – post or draft – and I am not going to look at it long enough to know for maybe another century. I have now had my morning coffee, finished just in time for lunch. I will NOT be reading this aloud even once. It’s a trap.

March one, here I come!
first draft quotejpg.jpg

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