Two Birds With One Stone

To set things straight at the outset, I am not suggesting throwing rocks at nature’s songbirds. Keep in mind, though, those songbirds CAN and DO create problems with bounty in vegetable gardens this time of year. What’s a nature-loving conscientious backyard gardener to do?

Those same hobby farmers might have children running around beginning to be bored with summer, whining about having ‘nothing to do’ with an over-abundance of free time stretching out for parents, too, the more the kids complain. The scenario could be especially troublesome for parents trying to limit device time.

There is a possible solution to both dilemmas. Scarecrows. Again, to set the reader straight, I am not suggesting that kids take on scaring the crows at the backyard plot, though they might do just that with normal rowdiness if the veggies are near the play area and IF the children are playing. Otherwise, it might be considered a chore that has payment attached to it, and that’s a whole different bag of worms and involves checklists and time clocks and perhaps raises and overtime. Might be cheaper to just buy veggies at the grocery rather than get into all that. The famous scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz was in search of brains. We want to make certain the kids don’t take advantage of weary parents who begin to act as though they have lost theirs simply for the sake of a whine-free afternoon.

A garden full of bounty is tempting to more creatures than just a few songbirds. One scarecrow can fight that battle. See where I am going with this? I am suggesting that you get those bored kids involved and declare war on crop-stealing vermin all at the same time. Build a scarecrow! I know we are accustomed to seeing them in fall harvest scenes, but why wait? There might not be much to harvest if one.does. Besides, school is in session then and half the issue is no longer that.

From my scanty research into the construction of a suitable one, it should move and make noise and somewhat resemble those pesky humans that scare critters off when in the vicinity of the bounty. There are stashes of scarecrow components in drawers and closets, attics and garages in most homes. Scarecrows are not particular. Heads out of stuffed Walmart bags will work just as well as those made of old pantyhose. Pack either well so he…or she…won’t miss the brains that will never materialize. I think it might be rather fun to have a pair. Full skirts could hide a heap of moving noisemakers from curious eyes of all kinds. Eyes don’t consume tomatoes, anyway.

In my summer reading I have learned of STEM ‘toys’ that help kids construct things of basic levers then work into elementary robotics. This oldster would need all summer to build anything that moves. Artificial intelligence would lose patience with me, but not with young eager minds who ‘get’ by osmosis some of the technology involved. Some proud gardeners could have a whole chorus line of scarecrows in a matter of hours to entertain and protect simultaneously.

It’s not a new idea. A few thousand years ago the ancient Egyptians used them to guard their wheat fields planted along the banks of the Nile. I wouldn’t be surprised to read hieroglyphic translations that revealed Egyptian scarecrows danced and sang. After all, Egyptians built the pyramids.

You can even turn the activity into a celebration. The first Sunday of every July is Build a Scarecrow Day. In 2019 that is Sunday, July 7th. HAPPY SCARECROW DAY!

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Birthday Biz

Not time to celebrate a new decade,

And not much in my past I’d trade.

But a birthday it is,

Which one is my biz,

I’d give my life till now a good grade.

Lately it’s been even better,

Unless one considers the weather,

I’m often on the run,

Sun-up till day’s done.

On my joy there is no fetter.

I have cherished friends and family,

Who are challenged to keep up with me.

I’m blessed with good health,

So I think I have wealth,

There’s more than dollars to prosperity.

By now I wish I’d written a book,

About the huge risky gambles I took.

Since all’s turned out well,

I may never tell

Of opportunities I often forsook.

I feel like a gal who is …forty,

And I like a style that is sporty,

My looks are betraying

The age I’d be saying,

A joke to Professor Moriarty.

My lucky number is not really six,

Lower numbers preferred in the mix.

That I’ve lived this long,

My heart sings a song,

But my face covets a youthful fix.

My looks may get a bit tattered,

Who cares if I seem to get fatter.

My life’s full of love;

I thank God above

For my spirit – it’s what really matters.

Happy birthday to me this month of June.

My soul is singing a grateful tune.

Though years may be mounting

It’s blessings I’m counting.

I marvel at them like the moon.

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Spring on the Run

What happened to the Spring Fling?

I look forward to the dance

Of colors in the breeze,

Those we plan and those by chance,

Not the muted browns of a late freeze.

It certainly changes the romance,

Searching for shoots on one’s knees.

For sure I’m not wearing short pants

But hey! I haven’t had even one sneeze,

If there’s a bright side to this cold spring thing.


Would be a bummer to go straight to summer

Without an invitation to the promenade.

Perhaps it was lost in a windy gust

That makes us avoid the search for shade.

No worry about the gathering of dust

On sills and tables and beds freshly made

‘Cause closed windows are a definite must!

We’re longing to porch sit and sip lemonade…

Mother Nature, it’s past time to be fair and just!

No telling what’s in the mind of a hummer.


But you can bet, we take what we get,

No doubt with a surplus of grumbling,

As we still don our hoodies for a morning run.

For sure there’s no shortage of mumbling

While warming up in a patch of sun.

So strange now with gloves to be fumbling;

Without them no work would get done,

Through paths of sticks I’d be stumbling.

Mother Nature, aren’t you missing the fun?

Aren’t you ready to make up with us yet?

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To Tube…Or Not to Tube

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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The brake has been on for years
But it must be slipping.
Have I forgotten my fears?
My memory must be skipping.
Have I also forgotten my tears
As into hope my thoughts go dipping?

I have been on earth a while;
Perhaps I don’t act as I should.
I feel my psyche beginning to smile
Again, as I thought it never would,
It’s like he has my number, to dial
Straight to my soul, like he should.

I’ve never thought age really mattered,
What does he think about it?
Through his words wisdom is scattered
As if into an old soul he would fit.
He knows isolated and battered
Though there is life and laughter in his wit.

Do I release the brake, do I take the chance?
Is it fair to him…or to me?
Do I seek friendship or dare yearn for romance?
Is the answer ever easy to see?
For sure it has been happenstance
So just yet I am not ready to flee.

Life has taught me to take time,
To be honest, open, to enjoy the now
Given to two who met over wine.
Without worry about the how.
With focus on minds and hearts sublime,
Discovery and joy the noble vow.

So… maybe my heart knows how to live, if I get out of the way.

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Spring Fever

Spring has almost sprung and I’m feeling philosophical.

Why is it you find that perfect green top AFTER St. Patrick’s Day? You know, the one on the hanger under the poncho.

Why is it you never run out of chocolate syrup and milk at the same time? Always just enough of one and none of the other when the late night craving hits. Sorta like shampoo and conditioner.

Why is it that socks that go in the washer together don’t come out of the dryer together?

Why is it when you decide to walk you’ll see tons of available parking spots at the entrance?

Why is it on a full clothing rack you can find your color but not your size, or vice-versa?

Why is it the more complicated the assembly the shorter the instructions?

Why is it you have a good hair day when you’re  raking leaves but not for that dinner date?

Why is it thinking about those pickles you didn’t buy makes your mouth water?

Why is it on some no-makeup days you look fine and others you look sick?

Why is it you’ll see everyone you know when making a store run looking like a bum, but fix up a bit and you see no one you know?

Why is it scrumptious chocolate pies still don’t taste as good as Grandma’s?

Why is it the older I get the faster I seem to go through a calendar? Yes, I still use that old-timey paper crutch ’cause I don’t trust the screen ones.

Why is it the cat wants in or out just as I am about to fall asleep? Nighttime or nap time, no difference. Same with the phone – landline or cell. I will have a whole day of silence, but get sleepy, it comes alive.

Why do I never see my cat take a sock upstairs but I see him bring one down? In the dark it looks like he is carrying a critter, but he is just returning a sock. And he never takes mates.

Why is it we think first impressions of others are significant, but forget we make a first impression, too?

Why is it you can proofread multiple times but find one more error AFTER you hit send or print?

Why is it people I don’t know know me?

Why is it I think I have nothing better to do than ponder these silly questions?


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Tribute to Mom

My siblings are lucky, you might say,

Since I’m the first of three;

For more Mom could have said, “No way!”

But she didn’t give up after me.

She was used to babies as oldest of six,

But I broke many of the rules;

With me Mom was often in a fix,

At home, but not at school.

I was bossy before I had a brother,

I practiced on Mom and Dad.

My tantrums were surely a bother

But they never labeled me as bad.

I don’t remember my momma yelling,

She could, though, raise one eyebrow.

How many eyebrow scoldings? No telling.

(I can’t do that, even now).

I heard often I’d pay for my raising,

From Dad, but not from Mother.

My mom’s serenity I’m always praising;

She wouldn’t wish that on another.

Mother’s Day is almost here,

She left us twice, you know;

We miss her daily, year after year,

And mourn what she missed. We love her so.

Evelyn Bizzell Pearson (1930 – 2008)

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