Thrill rides, beneficial bugs, and a rubber duck


Highway 63 and Lovelace Road

This junction, Highway 63 and Lovelace Road, northeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas has possibilities as a movie location. You can almost hear the chopper blades whopping on the far side of the highway. And perhaps some Jaws music.

After seeing hair-raising rides and finding some minuscule Lady Bugs in a thousand acre plus field,  my expectations for the balance of the day did not include anymore “Kodak moments.”  However, I should have known better.

To access the field where I found the bugs, I had to exit and descend from elevated highway. On the way back, all that goes down, must go up — and lo and behold, there was a road with a sky background — the thing of movie sets. One could envision the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the cavalry, an Apache chopper with guns blazing, or a tank topping the rise with any of the above headed straight at you while you listen to something akin to the Ride of the Valkyries.

carnival ride passengers

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com.

Before we go much further with this epistle, may I suggest you digress momentarily and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corn Dancer dot Com where this story got its start. You’ll see a four-story swing at the Star Daze Festival at Star City AR, some people riding it, and a bigger that life Lady Bug.

We’ll stand by here, patiently waiting your return, while you peruse this entertaining and informative page.

On faith that something would turn up, which it usually does, I headed toward the Arkansas River Bridge over Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam northeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. On past trips over the bridge and the elevated highway one travels after crossing the bridge, I noticed a road crossing under the elevated highway. I figured it was time to check it out.

The road runs at the edge of a giant wheat field. After running the length of the road and finding some nice riverside residences,  I turned around to head back. I stopped in the way out to shoot some wheat, cleverly figuring that the caption would say something to the effect of  — “coming soon to a biscuit near you.”

Lady bugs on wheat

The odds of finding a couple of Lady Bugs in a wheat field bigger than a lot of towns are tall. These critters are stretching to hit 1/4" long.

I set up to shoot the wheat. After a few frames, I saw the first Lady Bug, and then the second. Not wanting to pass up this chance, I put my person on the ground at Lady Bug level to record these critters. Some contortion required.  The bugs cooperated completely showing no fear of the monster and his equipment pointed in their direction. But then that is their nature. They are beneficial bugs. For all of their innocent appearance, they are predators. And their prey is the pest bugs that damage crops and flowering plants. You just go girls!

And finally, it’s never too late!

rubber duck in the tub

There are some things one can continue to enjoy, regardless of age. One of those things, I must confess, is a rubber duck in your bathtub. Why not?

Certainly, it’s not rubber. Probably some sort of polyetheleynebi-nomialplasticenedi-something or other, but you get the drift. Do something nice for yourself today.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

gallery thumbnails

See more thrilled riders, festival, ladybugs, and more at our Weekly Grist Gallery. Click on the the thumbnails above. Bigger high resolution pictures.

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

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A fortuitous inversion


hazy sunset

Sun, smoke, haze and tall weeds came together at the right moment in an inversion.

In Los Angeles, an inversion, though not a four-letter word, is viewed with the same contempt that a four-letter word earns in polite company. Inversions exacerbate smog problems. In LA, (lower Arkansas), on a late August late afternoon, an inversion is a good thing if you are looking for a good shot. Inversions hold hazy layers close to the ground.

It was an overall lucky day. Earlier I found an old home place stand of trees in a “cotton patch.” See what I found on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there. A cool thing to do. We’ll wait here.

Back to the inversion.The sun was setting fast just a half mile or so from the Arkansas River levee east of  Tamo, Arkansas. It was then that I spotted a layer of smoke from a shouldering field burn-off sandwiched between me and the sun. In the foreground were weeds standing tall along the road right of way, well nourished from fertile field runoff. The moment was fleeting.

A visual scan of the scene made me immediately grateful for whatever higher power steered me in this direction. A few moments earlier and the effect would not have been the same. A few minutes later and it would be gone forever.

Weeds, haze, and sun

Sometimes one picture is two. In this case, weeds, haze, and sun make a statement. Any accolades belong to the higher power which steered me in this direction and stuck my nose in it.

The light and layers make for an eye-candy experience which begs to be explored and inexorably proves the theory that a fortuitous amalgamation of visual assets is greater than the parts. Here a common field, a distant treeline, weeds normally scorned, and a layer of smoke accentuated by natural late afternoon haze in front of a setting sun create a “Wow” moment. Beauty is where you find it.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

See these pictures and the Corndancer pictures in smashing high resolution in our Weekly Gallery. Click here. The pictures are bigger and better!

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

There goes the neighborhood


There goes the neighborhood

Not surprisingly, this is the worst house in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood consists of two houses. The other one is in somewhat better condition than this one, but not much. Someone at some time picked up and left, and never came back. We wonder why, but probably not loose any sleep over it. The old house and its neighbor can be found on County Road 49 in Lincoln County, Arkansas, not far from Yorktown. A lot of folks gladly tell you they are from Yorktown, which consists of a barbeque cafe, a gin and a bridge over Bayou Bartholomew. At 375 miles in serpentine length, Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou on the planet. I have never figured out exactly where Yorktown stops and starts, but it looms large as a community.

The site is marked by a large “home-place tree,” which is destined to far outlast the crumbling homes. See the other house and the tree on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, a very cool thing to do. Click here to go there. We’ll be right here waiting when you get back.

collapsing house

Alas front porch, I knew ye well. Get a good look. The house is nearly history.

The retreat from this tar-paper sided house may have been hasty. At the bottom of the back opening is a cardboard box full of washed and capped jars, some of which are mason jars. Anyone who went to that trouble would probably have taken the box along as the departure unfolded. Perhaps they were one step in front of someone who did not have their best interests at heart. In that case, leaving the jars and the box springs may have been OK.

Good news, bad news

The good news is, it’s late April and early May in Arkansas. The bad news is, it’s late April and early May in Arkansas. Opposing forces of nature give rise to these observations. After a winter that finally departed, kicking, clawing and objecting as it bade farewell, a magnificent spring made its grand entry. Replete with blooms, bees, buds, and temperate days. the season, despite a more intense than normal pollen assault wasn’t all that shabby. There was enough rain to make nice waterfalls and most of it eschewed the weekend to make its arrival. As of about ten days ago, that honeymoon with spring was over. It’s thunderstorm and tornado time in the neighborhood.

As I pursued this Saturday afternoon trip, the weather worsened, mainly north of where I was at the time. As a result, the cloud formations were dramatic, not a bad thing for a photographer.

storm over fields

The storm is gathering over this field just west of Grady, Arkansas.

As I traipsed along, I turned on the radio for a tune or two, and lo and behold, the music was replaced by a TV meteorologist informing this part of the world that southwest Pine Bluff, Arkansas was precariously close to being struck by a tornado. Since that’s where I live, I pointed the truck north and depressed the accelerator. And kept my ears glued to the radio.

storm and traffic light

You are looking in the general direction of my residence a few miles from here. This is the junction of US Highways 65 and 425, southeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

As I reached the outskirts of town, the news improved. The core of the storm had moved east and according to my spousal unit, the house was still standing and all occupants, one woman and a herd of animals, were alive, well and taking on nourishment. That being so, and the talking heads were broadcasting a blow by blow account of the storms progress, I decided to chase it.

Arkansas river bridge

The US Highway 79 bridge over the Arkansas River, north of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Turns out, the chase was futile and I terminated the pursuit on the outskirts of Altheimer, Arkansas and headed home on US Highway 79. Taking that route, gave me a consolation prize far better than a storm shot, of which there are probably millions. Since the Lord is continues to take care of fools and drunks, He saw fit to put me on this bridge, with no traffic in sight for miles under the conditions you see above. Not being one to argue with providence, the rest was up to me. The scene was there, and I recorded it. There’s something to be said for a higher power.

But wait, there’s more in our Weekly Grist Gallery!

Each week, we post high resolution versions of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures. This week in color and black and white. These pictures are larger and at a better resolution. Click here to see these pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

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