Sunday, October 31, 2010
In our neck of the woods, summer was hotter and dryer than usual. For the most part, fall has taken the baton from summer and continued the pace, a shabby set of climatic conditions. Longing for some fall relief, I set out for the mountains of Searcy County, Arkansas. The jump-off point was Marshall, the county seat.
Nearing Marshall on the evening of October 29, I saw a likely road to the right off U.S. 65, south of Marshall. I followed it, hoping to shoot some spectacular fall foliage. The foliage was OK, but lo and behold, I came upon and found a masonry dog and her partner adorning the entrance to Smiley's Blueticks. Sure enough, up on a hill near the property residence, a nice looking bluetick bayed at the top of his lungs, notifying his world that he (or she) was aware of my presence.
Though the masonry dog pictured above is close, it is not, in my humble opinion, a bluetick, which has much longer ears than what you see in the picture. Nevertheless, you get the drift that the Smileys love their dogs, and that's what counts.
The road to Smileys followed a small stream and snaked through some virgin woods. Though the fall colors are not as evident here as they will be soon, there are enough splashes to make life interesting.
The next morning, after a saw-mill hand's breakfast — sage and seer, the late Jerry Clower, said that " . . . after a breakfast like that, you could work all day at the saw mill" — at the legendary Sunset Cafe in Marshall, I set out north by northwest to Snowball, Arkansas, my next navigation point. The idea was still to seek fall foliage.
North of Lurton, these hardwood leaves (probably hickory) spectacularly perform as programmed, on time and just right.
I did find foliage, but not of the quality I expected. Turns out these mountains have suffered from the same dryness as the Delta. Because of the dry conditions, a lot of trees gave up the ghost and started dropping leaves prior to being goaded into action by dropping fall temperatures. So the fall colors were spotty, but where we found color, it was concentrated and dazzling. Thank goodness for the smallest of favors.
N O T E S:
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.