Going for the green


Water tower at Lake Dick Arkansas with approaching storm

July is a good time to look for afternoon thunderstorms. This one cropped up near Lake Dick, Arkansas in July of 2009. It was a perfect set of lighting conditions, strong late afternoon light and turbulent clouds in the background. The image is a study in Mother Nature’s complementary color distribution: Green, gold and blue talking to us.

Our world, on November 24, 2013, here in LA (lower Arkansas), is bitter cold (for us), blustery, and brown. I am not casting aspersions on these conditions, but am merely observing their presence. There is a bit of sticker shock however, as these are the coldest temperatures we have experienced thus far this year. To top that, as winters go, last winter was puny at best, so our systems are far removed from the last bone-chilling experiences in LA.

Hollow cypress tree near Grider Field Pine Bluff AR

Click on the tree to see the start of the story.

Though my duck hunting friends will likely disagree, I believe this is a really good time to be inside watching a football game (or working on a blog).

For those who bemoan these present conditions, I am offering archival selections of warmer and greener circumstances. You can see where this idea germinated on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where you will see, among other things, a hollow cypress tree surrounded by, you guessed it, green.

Storm clouds in sunset at Lake Dick Arkansas

A day earlier from the water tower shot above, across the road from the water tower, with the camera pointing away from the tower, the setting sun is painting the clouds in vibrant pinks and pseudo-oranges supported by grayish blues. Corn is silhouetted in the foreground. Just being there was a privilege from on high.

Water tower in rice field

A year later, in July of 2010, the field was planted with rice. This is about the same time of day as the storm pictures above, less the disturbances, but nevertheless, cool.

remote abandoned stairs hear lake dick arkansas

Not far from the water tower, earlier the same day, I found a stairway to nowhere. It was likely the front yard approach to a family farm which succumbed to economics. The land around the stairs was not cultivated at the time of the shot.

lady bug on winter wheat near Pine Bluff Arkansas

Just a few miles from the water tower, in April of 2011, we found a nearly ripe field of winter wheat. Turns out ladybugs think winter wheat as a home site is cool. I am told they are beneficial to the wheat crop, since nasty aphids are their favorite treat.

Since we are just days from the time to be grateful for what we have and the opportunities afforded by our blessings, please know, dear readers, that you are a blessing to me. Stay warm and well.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Well organized versus wild and wooly


cypress in creek

A growth of wild cypress on the east side of a stream crossing U.S. Highway 167 north of Hampton, Arkansas in late March, 2011. The glow of a setting sun bathes the scene in amber.

On the wild side, this creek full of roadside cypress growth  in south Arkansas, probably ignored by passengers and drivers in hundreds of vehicles passing daily, is a cacophony of color, shapes, angles, shadows, and shades. It is a macro universe supporting a cypress nursery, fish, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, and other cold-blooded critters who are probably looked upon as supper for the warm-blooded carnivores who are without a doubt members of the neighborhood as well.

On top of all that, it looks pretty cool and nary a soul has lifted his or her hands to manicure it or prepare it for public view. It just happened. And other than the price of gas (no small thing mind you), it is free for all to see.

Half Moon Bridge, Garvan Woodland Gardens

See Garvan Gardens at Corndancer dot-com

Compare our wild and wooly cypress to the well organized grounds of Garvan Woodland Gardens, near Hot Springs AR. Garvan Gardens is a world-class botanical garden bequeathed to the University of Arkansas School of Landscape Architecture by the late philanthropist Verna Cook Garvan. As opposed to the cypress growth, thousands gladly pay the modest entry fees to stroll through and observe the wonders of nature civilized by well manicured trails and bridges in Garvan Gardens.

With its unique woodland chapel and pavilion, Garvan Gardens is the site of dozens of weddings every year. You can see much more of Garvan Gardens on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. Click on the link and take a look. We’ll wait here.

View from the Half Moon bridge at Garvan Gardens

The view from Half Moon bridge at Garvan Gardens in its brilliant early spring mode. A set of steps allows garden visitors acess to get up close and personal with the small stream running through the chasm. Up to and including getting your feet wet.

Some would say there’s no comparison between the well organized and tended Garvan Gardens and our wild and woolly cypress growth. I beg to disagree. The same Higher Power created locations. Both are prime examples of their local environments. In their own way, both are eye candy. One may be a tad threatening to human visitors and one has the welcome mat out. Until the Garvan Gardens landscape was tamed, it probably had its share of natural threats as well.

Full Moon bridge at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Full Moon bridge at Garvan Woodlands Garden goes over a small stream which empties into a Koi pond. The bridge is part of the well planned system of trails in Garvan Gardens.

My observation is that while one location is a touchy-feely and the other is an “I’d just as soon not,” both have value. Both have their place. And we can enjoy both for what they are. So in the final analysis, in my humble opinion, as to the “well organized versus wild and woolly” conundrum, there are no winners and no losers. Just two venues doing what they do best.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Tulips at Garvan Garden entrance

See more pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery

See more Garvan Gardens and cypress pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll see the Garvan Gardens entrance and its guardian tulips.

And you can peruse and ruminate upon the images of more of the bridges and some other cool stuff.  There are 13 pictures waiting on you.

Still lo-cal, high in natural content and very addicting. Fully guaranteed and warranted to entertain even the most calloused of souls. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/

http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Cypress and relocation


This cypress story got started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer.com. To see another cypress picture and discover these beginnings, click here. Well, in fact, most of this story is there.

These trees showing their massive bases are just inches of water. The normal waterline about 3/4 up the visible trunk from the current water level.

These Lake Enterprise trees showing their massive bases are standing in just inches of water. The normal waterline, barely visible, is  near the top of the picture. Waterlines at the bottom of the trunks show that low water is nothing new to these trees.

Cypress trees are ornery critters. For the most part, (unless the lake goes dry), their feet are never dry and they thrive in non-hospitable environments. That being said, to some of us, they are a thing of beauty.  All of these trees are in Enterprise Lake at Wilmot AR. Wilmot is just a few miles north of the Arkansas-Louisiana state line.

Not far from a lakeside residence, this view gives you an idea of the width of the lake. It is long and skinny. Cypress trees line the shores. In certain parts of the lake, such as what is seen in our Corndancer article, are thickly concenterated.

Not far from a lakeside residence, this view gives you an idea of the width of the lake. It is long and skinny. Cypress trees line the shores. In certain parts of the lake, such as what is seen in our Corndancer article, the trees are are thickly concentrated.

Lake Enterprise is a backward question-mark shaped oxbow lake, a remnant of eons of geological shifts. There are a lot of similar lakes in this part of the country, but none quite as well populated with cypress as this one.

These trees are in just a few inches of water.

These trees are in just a few inches of water. Evidence of previous low water conditions is clearly evident with the pronounced waterlines. Cypress trees have a knack for survival.

What the ??????

A few miles north of Wilmot you see a smoke stack, jutting like an asparagas spear from a plowed field. It is what's left of the Jerome Relocation Center.

A few miles north of Wilmot and Lake Enterprise  you cannot miss a smoke stack, jutting like an asparagus spear from a plowed field. You can see it for miles. It is what’s left of the Jerome Relocation Center.

The Jerome Relocation Center was a camp where 16,000 Japanese Americans (most were US Citizens) were incarcerated from October 1942 until June 1944. Named for the now virtually depleted town of Jerome, Arkansas, the relocation center was established as a result of executive order 9066, signed in February 1942 by then President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

As a result of that order more than 120,000 persons of Japanese descent were relocated from the west coast and Hawaii to similar camps. There was another relocation camp in Arkansas 27 miles north at Rowher. There is a memorial to Japanese American WWII veterans and a cemetery holding the remains of internees who died while residents of that camp.

In the mid-70s, I had the privilege of meeting a man about my age who had spent part of his childhood in the Rowher Camp. He was in the nearby town of McGehee AR helping make arrangements for a memorial service to be held at the Rowher site. Also in the 70s, I talked to several residents of the Rowher area who were adults at the time. They told me that, for the most part, local residents sympathized with the internees. The internees also gave a good accounting of themselves and were polite, responsible people.

A quarter mile or so north of the smoke stack, is a memorial to the Jerome Relocation Camp internees. Being in the Delta, in a farm area, no space is wasted. An irrigation pump sits close by. In the background, you can see a cropduster winging his way home.

A quarter mile or so north of the smoke stack, is a memorial to the Jerome Relocation Camp internees. Being in the Delta, in a farm area, no space is wasted. An irrigation pump sits close by. In the background, you can see a crop duster winging his way home.

I talked to a woman whose family operated a store adjacent to the Rowher Camp. She was very complimentary of the internees and admired their ability to create outstanding vegetable gardens, a skill universally admired here in the south. She also said that after the initial settlement, some of the internees could come and go as they pleased and became customers of her store. She fondly remembered some individuals by name.

Down the road at Wilmot, the trees were there all the time, not paying attention to the personal dramas unfolding to the north. While we humans scurry about learning from our mistakes, the trees await our visit. If we never see them they, the ornery cypress,  don’t care. If we do happen to set foot on their turf, their quiet dignity and infinite resilience give us pause to marvel at inexplicable wonders.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

More Jerome Relocation Center links: Click here and/or here

The reluctant natural enemy


This started out as man versus pelican tale and wound up as an object lesson in the value of humility. See the first part of the story on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com, a very cool thing to do.

Bottom line was, I wanted to shoot pelicans (the Nikon way). Despite my good intentions, the subject pelicans declared me a natural enemy, rejected my intrusion and swam out of range after just a few shots.

After just a few frames, the wily birds said “no more” and turned tail, following their leader to a perceived safer distance.

After just a few frames, the wily birds said "no more" and turned tail, following their leader to a perceived safer distance.

Further west, in what many believe to be the lake slums, is the cormorant tree. It is a deceased cypress tree, adopted by cormorants. I’ve seen them in this same configuration at just about any given time of the year. From what I can tell, cormorants enjoy little appreciation from anyone or thing except other cormorants. Their only saving grace so far as I’m concerned is as an interesting picture.

The slums of the lake, according those not enamored with cormorants. This deceased cypress tenement is populated year-round by cormorants.

The slums of the lake, according those not enamored with cormorants. This deceased cypress tenement is populated year-round by cormorants. One can note their social habits. They will seek out pelicans for company. The reverse of that is not true to the best of my observations.

Far be it from me to challenge The Almighty, however I’ve yet to come up with a good reason for poison ivy, chiggers, gnats, jellyfish, cockroaches, obnoxious people and perhaps, cormorants. The message from Above is, in this case, ” … boy if I’d needed your advice, I would have asked. Learn to live with it. Amen.” OK Big Guy, you’re the boss.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey


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