Friday, January 8, 2021
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
I followed the dry creekbed east to where a stream was flowing, fed by small springs emerging from the hillside. Watercress grows there, and bright wildflowers were flourishing. Nearby were raccoon tracks, and I could imagine the little creatures rinsing their food in the water, their masked faces Corvid-correct. A movement caught my eye. Butterflies? No, it was only bright leaves, fluttering to the ground, their first flight, also their last. Overhead, sun-saturated maple trees wore their Sunday best.
Continuing up the creek, I waded in the shallow water, thankful for waterproof boots, and where the water was too deep, I picked my way through the brush at the side of the brook. Were it not for one strand of rusty barbed wire, I might have imagined I was the first person to walk this quiet hollow.
With both the Corps of Engineers Bull Shoals Lake boundary land and the Mark Twain National Forest in our county, we are fortunate to live in a place with easy access to wilderness. It doesn't take long to find a place where your footprints, on a given day, are the only human ones. As I examine rocks and trees and flowers, my to-do list recedes to the back of my mind, and I come away refreshed.
I didn't see the raccoons in the hollow, but I saw their prints and knew they'd been there. I didn't see God that day, but I saw His fingerprints everywhere.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Monday, May 25, 2020
This morning I checked the Bull Shoals Lake level on the computer, then headed down the hill toward the lake on a trail through the woods. Lately, I’ve been making a note of where the water level is on the government land below us. The lake now replaces the broad valley where I love to walk, and the water is up in the trees. As I rounded the last turn toward the water, a Blue Heron made an ungainly takeoff, squawking its displeasure at being rousted from its hunting grounds. Fat frogs did belly flops into the water. They seem to love this rearrangement of land and lake.
Nearby was a Green Trillium I’ve been watching lately. It’s not as showy as its white and red cousins, but rising 15 inches on a single stem, it makes a statement of beauty in the woods. Today the water is lapping at its feet, and its rhizome may already be underwater.
Back up the hill, I stumbled across a newly dug den, with moist, red clay strewn over the ground in front of the 7-inch opening. A wild flood victim most likely moved its family out of the danger zone. This is probably one of many such relocations.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers built Bull Shoals Lake in 1952 on the Missouri/Arkansas line as a flood control reservoir. It is vast and beautiful, rugged, and remote. At this writing, the lake is at 693.94 feet above sea level, and the top of the flood pool is 695. That means if we get only 1.06 more feet of water, the lake will go over the dam at Bull Shoals, Arkansas, and the White River below will probably flood. This has been a soggy spring. We’ve had about 34 inches of rain so far this year, nearly 81% of our yearly average of 42 inches in just under five months, with more predicted for this week. In addition to every drizzle or deluge of rain that falls directly into the lake every time it rains, the feeder streams over a considerable distance open their faucets wide and contribute to the flood pool.
Years ago, heavy spring rains resulted in another high lake level. A Little Rock, Arkansas NBC TV station sent a reporter to interview people about the impact of the high water. Positioned on the courthouse steps in our county seat of Gainesville, Missouri, the reporter was poised when an official from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the door of the courthouse and walked outside. “A lot of people are criticizing you Corps of Engineers managers who are in charge of the lake and its level for your handling of this situation,” he said. “How do you respond to them?”
The engineer paused, then replied respectfully, “Well, their problem is they think that we are in charge. We used to think we were in charge. This year, I think we all learned WHO really IS in charge.”
The interviewer was silent, and the engineer walked away.
Saturday, May 9, 2020
What would spring be without baby birds?
Carolina Wrens fledged a month ago from the basket on our front porch. For a couple of weeks, they used porch as a landing pad and mess hall and, unfortunately, a latrine. They were just adorable enough to put up with the mess.
Their tail feathers, at first barely discernible, grew until, at a glance, it was hard to distinguish the little ones from their parents. But when they flew, it was obvious who the flight instructors were.
- If it seemed that their parents had forgotten them, they emitted heartbreaking chirps.