The joy of hindsight

Petit Jean Mountain sunset

Looking west from a Petit Jean Mountain overlook late in the afternoon in October of 2008. A few minutes before the view was too bright, a few minutes later, it was too dark. The picture was squirreled away in my archives. A question from my wife stirred up a photo search and this is one of my unintended discoveries as I looked. Shot October 2008.

lightning strike

Click on the lightning to see how the story started.

A question from my wife regarding the identity of a tree in our neighbor’s yard sent me on a trip through the archives. After identifying the tree as one of the “hicker nut,” (hickory to the uninitiated), persuasion, I began a search of my archives to find a particular picture of the tree. I found the picture I wanted: the tree in its bright yellow fall plumage. As a bonus, I also found a picture of a lightning strike with the tree in the foreground — and a number of other shots I previously overlooked — some of which I decided were ready to be shown.

So this week, we are wandering through the archives. See the first three pictures in the search on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. You will see the yellow tree, the lightning strike and a companion picture to the one above — and below.

Looking north from Petit Jean state part overlook

Looking north from the lodge observation area at Petit Jean State Park, near Morrilton, Arkansas. The sun is beginning to set. I shot the picture you see at the top of the page from an observation area near the bluffs you see above. I shot both pictures in October of 2008.

Around 30 minutes or so northeast of Petit Jean Mountain is Scotland, Arkansas. There is an old home place there, right on the main drag, sporting an old barn and a house with a dug well in a well shed. When I was in that neighborhood in 2008, I found a unique home place in the boondocks nearby and featured it that week, to the expense of the place in town. Now I am righting that wrong. The well shed is below. See the house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Dug well shed and, Scotland Arkansas

This dug well and shed are part of an old home place right on Arkansas Highway 95 in Scotland, Arkansas. It is not necessary to leave your vehicle to see it. The family barn is in the background. Shot October 2008.

 A bit closer to home, just south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161 is a favorite target of area photographers: A pecan tree tunnel. I like the fall shots best when most of the leaves have dropped and you see the character of the trees. But then, that’s just me.

Pecan tunnel south of Scott Arkansas

Pecan tree tunnel south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161. November 2009.

 This is not the first time I’ve shot these trees, but this is the first time for this particular picture. See the previous visit, “A tunnel of trees.” The shots are from about the same place as this one in the evening and the next morning.

sailor in tug boat crew chilling in New Orleans

This sailor is pulling crew duty as he watches the proceedings of the 2005 New Orleans French Quarter Fest to his immediate front.

 And finally, way further down south, a crew member of the St. James, a tug boat docked at a jetty on the Mississippi River in New Orleans eyeballed me just as I made this shot. I nodded to him and he nodded approval to me. Just to his front is Waldenberg Park where a big part of the 2005 French Quarter Fest activities are taking place.

Saracen Landing

Click the picture for our Weekly Grist gallery

See our Weekly Grist gallery for more archive pictures

See some flowers, the old house next to the well shed, an old structure that I can’t figure out — old school or old church — which is it? A common place sight that made an uncommon reflection, and a couple of other late evening sunset shots.

Click, go and enjoy.

Thanks for joining me in a trip through the archives.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Three rooms and a path

 Primitive house-barn combination

This old barn and house was under one roof. Not a bad idea in days gone by. What it missed in pleasant aromas, it made up in security, one would surmise.

Imagine rounding a curve on a remote gravel road and all of a sudden before your eyes is the skeletal remains of a homesteader place. Of all the places I have found in my wanderings, this is the most primitive. I’d hazard a guess that it dates back to early 1800s, though I have no evidence other than personal opinion on the matter. It is obviously a combination barn and residence. Past that, my humble opinions follow in this story.

If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week, this continues the saga. If you’ve arrived here independently of the original story, and your curiosity is piqued, you can check it out here.

Looking at the barn-home from the back. The residence is on the right. Enclosed and pen space for the family critters is on the left.

We do not know who the residents of the barn-home were. I could have probably done a bit of local research in nearby Scotland, Arkansas, and someone might have known who lived there. However, it was Saturday afternoon and there were few signs of life in the town. The store was closed and it was likely that everyone else was glued to their tv sets watching Florida administer a good shellacking to the Razorbacks. Not a good time to interrupt fans with an unsolicited request for a local history update.

The structure shows evidence of maintenance and improvements after the original construction. The framing around the front door shows sawmill rip marks. The frame was attached with more modern looking nails. The doors on the critter side are similarly festooned with commercially prepared strips of lumber. Even the hardiest of souls can appreciate labor saving improvements.

Entrance to primitive cabin

The front door to the residence appears to have been built for midgets. People of average height must stoop to enter the premises. This is not uncommon for primitive residences.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that's all that was expected.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that met expectations.

Once you are inside the living room, den, bedroom, kitchen, closet, utility-room combination, you run out of amenities. Four walls, a ceiling, a floor and a door are it. There might have been a window at the back, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

You are nicely sheltered from the elements and there is a wall between you and those critters who consider you a menu item. Past that, there’s not much more to be said for the accommodations.

For these folks, a trip to town was a daylight to dark experience at the very best. Even by today’s standards, the home place is way back in the boondocks. The gravel road from highway 95 is good and well maintained now. It was probably little more than a primitive trail when this place was built.

Some things never change

If you were a husband, and you went to town by yourself, you were leaving your family to the elements and wild critters for an entire day. Who knows, maybe more. If  you were the wife left behind, as soon as husband was out of sight, the concerns mounted. What will befall him on the trip? Will I ever see him again?

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway.

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway. Hope the breeze was in the right direction.

If you both went, you had to be concerned about what might happen while you were gone. Would your home be plundered by a bear. Would a wandering miscreant knowing that if no one were home, it was likely no one would be home for a while. Long enough to do nefarious deeds.

Today, we complain of modern stresses. (Most of which are self-imposed in one way or another). In 18-whatever, in this neck of the woods, one of your stressful worries was being eaten. We should count our blessings. We don’t need old-fashioned stress. Losing the remote is far preferable to being today’s special for a hungry critter.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This trip started at Petit Jean State Park and meandered easterly through central Arkansas. On the way, I encountered a steel bridge across Cadron Creek east of Springfield AR. Since there ain’t many of ’em left, I’m including a shot of the bridge. The telephoto lens effect gives the appearance of an imminent run over by the 18-wheeler. Not a chance. Thank goodness for long optics.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey

All photos and content ©2008 Joe Dempsey.

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