Things are about to get ugly

American lotus bloom

Enjoy it while it lasts. This American Lotus (aka “water lily”) will drop its petals and assume its more pedestrian and less attractive role as a seed pod in just a day or two. From there, it’s all down hill. Life expectancy, as ordained for the lotus, from this point is short. The process has already started as evidenced by the brown freckles of a few of the petals. Yesterday, the complexion was probably pristine.

As I considered the pitifully short active life cycle of the American Lotus, (erroneously aka water-lily), my recall mechanism took me back to 1971. It was then that the late Jerry Reed, a talented and energetic musician and actor, came forth with a country classic, When you’re hot, you’re hot. At one point in the song, as he rolls out his story of success and a quick plummet therefrom, Jerry bemoans hearing a judge say “Ninety-days, Jerry-boy, when you’re hot, you’re hot.” Few terms could better describe the life and times of the American Lotus.

American lotus

Click on the lotus for more blooms and comments

In these parts, the Lotus begins to seriously stir around the first of June when buds first appear. A few days later, the lotus engine is running at full-throttle.  Huge, absolutely spectacular blossoms spring forth from the buds. Once that happens, think belt-fed buds and blooms. The colony is hey-look-me-over, bloom-city on steroids. Enjoy it while you can. It won’t last long. Ninety days later, the colony looks like a lotus slum.

However, you can enjoy a really up-close and personal shot of a peaked-out lotus and its attendant bug, plus a couple of additional lotus pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look. It’s worth the trip.

Meanwhile back at the pond, precious few weeks after the lotus onslaught, the plant goes about its serious intent of surviving to make a repeat performance the next year. So far, so good. Ancient Egyptians revered the lotus seed as a sacred object and included them in the booty with which they populated their most highfalutin tombs. Horticulturists say they have planted and raised plants from these seeds. Needless to say, the lotus family has perfected the art of survival.

Lotus colony with blooms and seed pods

Here’s how the neighborhood looks after Mother Nature’s survival instinct overwhelms the lotus beauty contest. What were once blooms are now seed pods. The blooms you see aren’t far behind.

When the lotus nursery mode kicks in, petals drop and the once spectacular bloom becomes a gnarled and pimpled seed pod. It gets worse. The seed pod opens and it appears like a dastardly space monster with a dozen or so beady eyes staring ray-gun holes in your soul — in preparation of having you for dessert — after it just ate Kansas City. Not to fear, they are just seeds in a lowly pod. And they are edible, as are the roots.

Lotus seed pods

This is not a space monster and it is OK for children and the elderly to view. It is a humble lotus pod showing you it’s edible seeds. Yes, I have not sampled the lotus largesse. The green pods will soon become like the brown ones.

As the neighborhood goes downhill, the once impressive "lily-pad" lotus leaves, having done their duty to nourish the new generation commit hair-kari in favor of the new generation.

As the neighborhood goes downhill, the once impressive “lily-pad” lotus leaves, having done their duty to nourish the new generation commit hara-kari in favor of the new generation. The leaf to the right has completed its grisly task. The one in the center is a work-in-progress.

Whodathunk that a plant could give us a lesson in humility. We rise, we fall, we come back. Thank you, nelumbo lutea.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

PS: These images are from my favorite lotus colony in a pond at south of the junction of South Hazel Street and I-530 in my headquarters city, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.


Tarry at Tarry for a while

Thomas Grocery, Tarry, Arkansas

Probably knocking on the door of a hundred years old, give or take a few, Thomas Grocery still stands in tiny Tarry, Arkansas. It has a plethora of nostalgia appeal and is a local favorite for old-store-oglers. More than a few look at it with ideas for gentrification.

Clowers Gin, Tarry Arkansas

Click on the old gin to see more of Tarry

Thomas Grocery was one of four fully operational stores in Tarry, a small but once bustling community between Pine Bluff and Star City, Arkansas. One other of the original stores is still standing, West Grocery, about a quarter mile from Thomas Grocery.

See an earlier Weekly Grist story relating to West Grocery here. While you are in the mood to click around, may we suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started and see some additional pictures of the store and other Tarry scenes.

For many years, Thomas Grocery housed the U.S. Post Office for the community. It was also a school bus stop. Few if any general stores of  that era were without a bench of some sort on the front porch. And a couple of dogs under the porch.  Thomas Grocery fits nicely into that genre.

The store was an important part of the social and economic fabric of the community, a nice way of saying that probably millions of juicy tidbits of gossip and rumors floated in and around the premises. Especially in election years.

I featured the store with a couple of winter pictures in our June 17 Weekly Grist post. I shot those pictures in 2009, so the old store is holding up nicely. We have high hopes this is a continuing trend.

Gills Barn, Tarry Arkansas

Looking at the hay barn from the east during midday sunlight. There is a chair in the loft at this end of the barn which I suspect is a deer stand.

An old barn and corn crib, off the beaten track, behind the store a few hundred yards offered some unusual photo ops not available without an invitation. The owner and I are friends and he graciously steered me in the right direction. The old barn was built to store hay, tack, and feed. It was completely floored. The floor stands off ground level more than a foot. It does, however, have large overhangs which could offer shelter to livestock.

The hay barn from the west end

The west end of the hay barn in late afternoon light. The angular device under the overhang is a hay feeder for cattle with the munchies. And they always have the munchies.

interior of old hay barn

The barn is tall and gives one the feeling of a rustic open air cathedral. All we need is a boom-box holding forth with “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” and/or some Purcell trumpet voluntaries.

Just a few yards from the old barn is an old corn crib. It is bigger than a lot of barns I have photographed. The north end is reasonably clear of weeds and trees, but the south end is cluttered with interloping trees and saplings. We have visited the subject of the hardy Bois D, Arc tree before on these pages. And now we have seen another one with a penchant for survival. Another reclining Bois D’ Arc.

Old corn crib at Tarry Arkansas

The north end of the corn crib is intact for the most part.

Bois D' Arc tree under corn crib

The hardy Bois D’ Arc tree, I believe, is genetically programmed with a superior survivability gene. The Bois D’ Arc is the Dick Butkus of trees. This one decided to take root in the moist, fertile soil under the corn crib, then stretch its branches to the sun to turbocharge its photosynthesis. While laying on its back. This is the south end of the corn crib which is in the process of collapsing. The corrugated metal roofing (aka “roofin’ arn”), leaning on the tree was deposited where it is by a tornado which whistled through a few years back.

While age and the elements have beaten away the the Tarry infrastructure, the great spring-fed fishing pond which has been in its back yard for no-tellin’ how long is alive well and producing “slab crappies” in the spring. Looks like the really good part is holding up well.

fishing pond at Tarry Arkansas

The pond is like it was decades ago, except for the cypress elegantly aging. While I was on this shoot, something big broke water in the pond. A good sign.

SEE MORE PICTURES OF TARRY  Visit our Weekly Grist Galley to see more of Thomas Grocery, the tree, the corn crib, and the barn, plus a couple of others. Guaranteed enjoyment.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

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