Leave the Rural Ozarks Rural

If you took out the 4-way flashing stop-light and focused on the buildings, you might almost mistake this as Leslie (the town we live near now.) But this is actually Steelville, MO, another small town in the Ozarks I lived in/near and spent formative years as a kid running through the woods with my hillbilly pals.

Most of my friends lived in simple old cabins and houses that smelled of ash wood smoke, but one family lived in a shelter built into a mound of dirt with rough-cut timbers and army canvas-tent walls with dirt floors.

I remember the latter vividly as the father of the pair of kids I spent most my time with melted some lead in the "fireplace" of that structure and made me a civil-war soldier out of a mold that I bet was passed down for generations.

I had previously lived with my Great-Grandparents in a small farm-house and then lived in an old single-wide in the woods. I never knew that my friends and I were "poor" as that was just the life we knew.

When I saw Leslie it reminded me of so much of the places of my youth decades before and the simple life I lived before the one I ended up making for myself and my family. I was drawn to it in amazement and wonderment of how it could resist what some call "progress" for so long. I wanted the slow pace, the self sufficiency, the neighbor helping neighbor.

So when I express a lack of excitement for those coming in from their places of convenience wanting the same they left behind, it is because I see this special place as a treasure, not an "opportunity".

There are plenty of places out there where you can find convenient living, but how many places are left where you can still find people in touch with their history, their heritage, and a way of life that has been that way for generations?

These little towns are jewels to be cherished as they are; they don't need to be cut and polished. Leave the rural Ozarks rural!


Wind through the trees and purple haired old ladies

Well, the jonquils are starting to peek through the remnants of last fall that remain through winter so I reckon that means it's going to be spring time again.  It also is the completion of our second year living out here.

This winter was relatively mild, more wet than anything.  At least mild by Ozark standards.  No real snow to mention but of course on a hilltop that wind can chill you to the bone sometimes.

It's odd that the wind and storms are comforting to me.  You'd think that being amongst tall timber it would be a terrifying thing to know those big ol' trees are swaying back and forth as you hear the wind just screaming through them.  In reality though I get the best sleep when the wind is blowing.  I guess it's kind of like folks with sleep machines or something.

This time of year means the storms will more likely be warm and bring in the thunder and lightning.  Same effect with those... I just sleep like a baby.  On the other hand if it's quiet, I'm listening for noises, etc.

It's still an adjustment, though a welcome one.  I'm now used to not hearing sirens or people shouting as they walk past the house venturing out from the campgrounds or the various other things that came with living in a populated area.  No sir, don't miss it.

But, there are new challenges to deal with in a tiny town.  One of which was someone who took offense to my Facebook tagline which was lifted from a Bocephus song most folks know by heart.  Apparently "we say grace, and we say ma'am, if you ain't into that we don't give a damn" was somehow offensive to her and her purple hair.

In reality, that is very country and totally "live and let live" so how anyone could get offended by that is beyond me; but one can't assume to understand any grown person with purple hair I reckon.

The funny thing is that the tagline used to be "I live back in the woods you see, the woman, and the kids, and the dogs and me".  But the kids grew up and sadly I just recently had to put my last dog down.  That tagline just kinda broke my heart I guess so I picked another line from the same song that fit. 

Yes, we do say grace, and I'm back to saying ma'am in the heritage of my Ozark-American upbringing despite it slipping from me for years, but if you choose not to, no sweat off my brow.

Anyway, the whole thing reminded me of a meme that a friend shared and I re-shared that was something to the effect of "If you don't know how much Bocephus' friend lost his life over than we probably can't be friends."  Which if I stop and think about it, just about anybody I'd count as a friend, or as I used to say as a younger man, "someone to ride the river with", probably wouldn't be able to resist singing along if said song came on the radio.

So I guess this two year mark might just sum up how long it took for me to openly tick someone in our tiny town off.  But like the storms and seasons, this too will pass and so it goes.  After a while it all just fades into a blur of old memories. 

But, perturbed purple haired ladies or not, I look forward to a wonderful spring, more wind through the trees, and nights of deep sleep as the thunderstorms roll in and out here in the place I happily and thankfully call home.


Semi-annual Update?

I don't mean to neglect this site, it is just that life happens.  At least now, we experience life in true seasons and with each coming and going season, there is more work to be done.

Right now we are in Spring and it is truly living up to its name as springs are springing everywhere.  We live on edge at the top of a mountain that is flat on top with hundreds of acres of cow pasture.

Snaky Acres in early Spring
What this means is that all the water that is taken into the ground on the top of the mountain creates a nice water table.  We have a rather nice year round spring that creates a creek and also fills our cistern.  This year though the heavy rains have not ceased and not only is our main spring springing, but the little "wet spots" are now constantly running and some places I need to use equipment are still too wet to work.

Snaky Acres from the air now that the trees are leafing up.

This too will pass though and the springs will eventually calm down and we'll move onto Summer.  Summer will bring more changes and more work such as grooming the trails and keeping up with the ever-growing lawn and clearings.  Before we know it trees will start dropping leaves and we'll move into preparing for Winter.

It's not like before where we had a little bit of a wet season between the heat and fire season.  Seeing the seasons come and go though does make one consider the seasons of life and where you are in that big picture.  Perhaps that's why folks out here seem more mindful of both the seasons of nature and the seasons of life.  I guess given some time, maybe I'll catch some of that wisdom that I so greatly admired in my own Ozark-American elders.  I can only hope so.


Critters... critters everywhere!

Arkansas truly is the "Natural State" and never more is it so apparent than Spring.  The flowers bloom, everything turns yellow from pollen, and every manner of critter wants to get out and about.

We had our fair share of critters the last time we lived in Arkansas as our subdivision was on the edge of cow pasture (though now our formerly semi-rural small town of Centerton that we lived in has been swallowed up by Bentonville).

Now we live much more rural in the Boston Mountains region of the Ozarks on acreage so the level of critters rivals that of what I encountered as a child living in the woods outside of Steelville, MO.

So yeah, we're definitely a bit more crittered.  So much so that yesterday when returning home, I unlocked the door, and noticed some movement.  I then came to realize a Western Rat Snake had decided to borrow my hiking poles...

A little bit later while heading out to the shop, the following Prairie Kingsnake was encountered...

The first snake encounter this year was the six foot Western Rat Snake found basking on the back porch railing...

Of course it's not all slithering snakes though.  We encountered a Three-Toed Box Turtle the other day, have a family of Cotton-Tails out near the garden, and have seen White-Tail Deer roaming around.  There was also a fox of some sort caught on the game cam but I'm pretty sure the dogs now keep him at bay.

I guess the lesson to be learned is that when one chooses to make a home among nature, you must live with all of nature.  That said... first time I feel threatened by a Copperhead or Cottonmouth, it's a hat band.


Back to Arkansas

Bought our secluded dream home with acreage in North Central Arkansas.  Time to get back to a natural state in the Natural State (and out of the insane state of California.)


How time flies

Nikki and I both have this picture on our Facebooks which is kind of funny.  It was taken about a dozen years or so past at a friends birthday party.

At the time this was taken it seemed like we'd been married a long time.  Looking back we were only about half way to where we are now.

About a quarter century down now, and hopefully after another quarter century we'll be sitting on a porch somewhere in our rockers watching grandkids (and/or great-grandkids) chasing lightnin' bugs.