Getting there is half the fun


old sharecropper house

Our trip this week was to photograph this old sharecropper house near Lake View, Arkansas. The trip was two hours each way so there were plenty of photo-ops along the way.

old share cropper house

See more pix of the old house at Corndancer dot-com

Long and winding road

After receiving a timely tip as to the existence and location of this old sharecropper house, I set out to shoot it early Saturday afternoon. Well, not too early, it was nearly 3:00 p.m. The route from the Dempsey domicile to the target is far less than direct due to non-negotiable wetlands, at several junctures, betwixt and between the starting and ending points.

The trip figured at two hours each way, not counting stops for shooting. Not a bad thing considering the mother lode of photo-fodder one normally encounters in the Delta. See some more pictures and read astute observations of this rare old sharecropper house on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this story started. We’ll wait here.

See more pictures of the old sharecropper house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

tree trimmed for power line right of way

At more than 100° in the shade, it’s hard to image ice-encrusted tree limbs, but that’s why this tree is trimmed the way it is. Falling limbs zap the lights. Note the burned lower trunk. (My apologies, this picture has some bad faults).

 This old tree like many in these environs has been trimmed to prevent it dropping limbs during the ice storms we endure occasionally in rough winters. One does simply does not want the TV to falter at the crux of a serious football game or pickup truck commercial. Regarding the tree, to add injury to insult, its lower trunk has sustained fire damage.

burned tree trunk

Despite fire damage, the old tree seems to be holding its own. The fire which charred the truck killed some foliage, but the old oak seems to be oblivious to the damage. Good luck tree!

You will see all sorts of things on a swing through the Delta and abandoned houses may lead the charge. As farming becomes more automated and less labor intensive, people are moving into more populated areas for employment. If it lasts that long, the house below will eventually be in the same condition as the one above.

abandoned house

“Will the person who knocked the front porch off the house please report to Mama!”

 It’s same song, second verse here in the Delta. In 2010 it rained like a monsoon, then turned as dry as the Gobi Desert. Welcome to 2011. The only difference is the extra 1. The good news is, the farmers are cranking up the center pivot irrigation systems and that always makes for good pictures. These mechanical quarter-mile-long monsters crawl in half-mile circles refreshing thirsty cotton and beans as they go. I must add that my farmer friends will castigate me for saying cranking up center pivots is good news, but they do make for some cool pix.

center pivot irrigation system

This huge center pivot irrigation system is providing life-sustaining water to a growing cotton crop a few miles from the old share cropper house you saw above.

 As you cruise through the Delta, you will cross hundreds of creeks, “brainches,” and irrigation ditches. Some are civilized and some are about as inviting as an equatorial swamp. The one below fits that category. The critters in and around it will strenuously object to your presence. Some will manifest their displeasure by departing the scene. Others will come at you with malice. Enjoy these wild snippets of nature at a comfortable distance.

See more pictures of this trip in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

a small creek in the Delta

Observe and enjoy this sanctuary for untoward critters from a respectable distance.

 I was burning daylight and rushing to get home before dark, but saw another center pivot with back-lighting from a setting sun. It was worth the stop. Things have to be just right for images like that, so it was voluntary delay.

back-lit center pivot irrigation system

The sun behind the spray gives a gossamer look to an industrial application. Not bad for a bunch of good ol’ boys.

When I rolled in the dogs were waiting, to administer a slobbery welcome. It’s nice to have friends who jump for joy every time they see you.

pickup abandoned on weeds

Click on the truck for our Weekly Grist Gallery

SEE MORE OF THIS TRIP IN
OUR WEEKLY GRIST GALLERY

Take a gander at more shots of the old sharecropper house, some vehicles garaged in a weed bed, another center pivot shot, and a eatery with great personally unfulfilled promise in our Weekly Grist Gallery, this week with 25, count ’em 25 pictures.

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

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Winter is wearing out


Tulip magnolias

These tulip magnolia blooms grace a tree in the back yard of my across the street neighbors. While I was shooting some jonquils in her front yard, she informed me that she had a tulip magnolia tree in her backyard. Being the horticultural deprived and misinformed citizen that I am, I nodded in agreement. Later I discovered that it was what I have always incorrectly called a tulip tree.

red camellia

See more pictures at Corndancer dot com

Some harbingers of our early spring are fading fast. The jonquils, called daffodils by some, have reached their peak and are beginning to wind down. My camellia is already dropping petals. And there were a few floppy flowers on the tulip magnolia tree you see above. These posies were fooled by a few unseasonably warm days in January and February.

Before we delve further into this epistle, I should advise you that it had its beginnings on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot Com. Go there to see more flower pictures and learn about attendant seasonal grumbles. We’ll patiently wait here for your return.

Spring beauties

No spring is complete without 'em: Spring Beauties. These blooms are no more than 3/8" inch in diameter.Thousands of these tiny flowers populate most southern yards.

One of the sure signs of spring, are Spring Beauties, a tiny white flower with gossamer purple variegation. No self-respecting yard is complete without a few. Some are blessed with many. My neighbor to the west has one of those yards.

My dogs who favor his turf for their business may contribute to this healthy growth of spring beauties. It is hard to argue with the results. Other dogs in the neighborhood, sometimes even his,  exact proper revenge with similar deposits on my premises. But his flowers are still better.

jonquils from ground level

Jonquils from ground level, a cat-level view. My cats like this flower bed.

Our bare deciduous trees are clearly visible behind these jonquils shot from ground level. They are building up a head of steam to inundate us with pollen, our annual reminder that the shade trees we love in the summer come at a price. Sometimes the pollen is so thick you have to turn on wipers to knock it off your windshield. How quickly we forget while sitting in the shade of a half-dozen towering oak trees that we endured a bit of prior inconvenience. That forgetting mechanism also works well for other temporary hiccups.

SEE MORE COOL FLOWERS

red camellia

See more flowers in our Weekly Grist gallery

This week we are featuring 18 posy pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery. We usually shoot more than we can use so we put ’em in a handy gallery for you to ogle.

See more jonquils, some pansies, another camellia, more spring beauties, forsythia, tulip magnolias, and more. And, this is an on-line gallery that you can show your Momma. Click here if you missed the other links. Lo-carb and stress relieving.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

Fall arrives in LA (lower Arkansas)


Jefferson County Courthouse Pine Bluff Arkansas

The Jefferson County Courthouse in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The original, in this location, was built prior to the War Between the States. A fire nearly destroyed it in the mid-seventies. After the fire, this part of the courthouse was reconstructed to the previous 19th century specifications. Some but not all of this part of the building is original. In the foreground is a Bradford Pear tree just about to peak out before dropping its leaves.

After a hot, dry and far-too-long summer, most of our trees here in LA have long since thrown in the towel on upholding their long-standing tradition of showing off with their best and brightest fall plumage. The two exceptions to this disappointing vegetative misanthropy are the Hickory trees, the Crepe Myrtles, and Bradford Pears. The former bright yellow and the latter two, screaming red.

Giant honey comb in tree

Giant honey comb

Before we go much further, my original idea to shoot leaves was fortuitously interrupted by my neighbor who advised me of a giant honeycomb in a tree in his former backyard. At first glance, you might have thought you were seeing an apparition in the process of eating the tree. Fortunately, it was benign.

It is a sight to behold, and you may behold it where this adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there. We’ll wait here while you look.

Fortunately, a concentration of exceptions to this year’s generally anemic fall colors populates our neighborhood. Several crepe myrtles performed as programmed as well as all of our homeboy hickory trees. The former are screaming red and the latter are brilliant yellow. They rock!

crepe myrtles with fall colors

Spindly crepe myrtles in the spring and summer are almost incognito amongst our giant neighborhood pine and hardwood trees. The tables turn when crepe myrtles blast forth their fall colors. In this picture, you are looking at two. Mine in the foreground, and my neighbor's crepe myrtle across the street in yellow orange in the background.

When it comes to fall leaves, I am the neighborhood pariah. Most of my neighbors boast shiny garden tractors with leaf vacuum attachments. Like busy bees, they religiously suck up their share of the six-gillion cubic feet of leaves which annually fall in our neighborhood almost as they drop.  But not I.

crepe myrtle and hickory tree in fall colors

In the foreground a blazing Crepe Myrtle is backed up by a large Hickory tree. Both are in my neighbor's yard (the one who turned me on to the honeycomb in the tree). I see this every time I pull out of my driveway.

Personally, it is my belief that falling leaves belong where they fall. I like how they look. I like how they crunch under your feet. Our cats love to play and frolic in the leaves. Our dogs love the same. So I am always the last hold out with the leaves. Last year, I set a new record. The leaves stayed in place until after the new year before they were ground to smithereens by my good friends who provide us with lawn service. Some will say that being a pariah comes naturally to me. Perhaps it is true.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

See larger versions of all the the Weekly Grist and Corndancer pictures for this week including the view from my office/studio on our weekly picture only gallery. Click here to go there.

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

Family tree


This a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d' arc, one of Mother Natures toughest children.

The ceramic chicken is in no danger. Despite what you may think, this a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d’ arc, one of Mother Nature’s toughest children.

Gerald Ware

Click on the tree’s keeper for more info

This Bois d’ arc tree, with a mind of its own and a genetic urge to survive, decided to grow horizontally instead of vertically.

You can see more pictures of the tree and a picture of its caretaker, Gerald Ware, where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the pictures and original story. It is a tale of happenstance where fate played a good hand in both our lives on a fine day in the fall of 2009.

The horizontal tree.

The giant horizontal bois d’ arc tree, a prominent fixture and point of pride in the yard of Gerald and Candi Ware of Greenwood, Arkansas was probably planted by original homesteaders who settled their place around 1870 or so. Bois d’ arc trees produce a tough and hard wood. Indians prized the wood for making the best bows.

The tree has a good place go grow. Its roots are close by the natural spring which provides water for the Ware household. Given those favorable growing conditions, the tree probably outgrew its ability to support itself and given the genetic trait of these trees to survive decided that horizontal growth would be just fine, thank you very much. At least, this is Gerald Ware’s theory. And since he is a retired biology teacher, his thoughts are probably right on target.

December 30, 2009 Update

bois d' arc in snow

Since I missed the snow on the “Ware Bois d’ arc” at Greenwood AR, I am grateful to Gerald Ware’s granddaughter for getting this shot and am equally grateful to Gerald for sending it to me. The tree is toughing out it’s 140th winter or so. A testimonial to staying power.

This barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

Cochran barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

A bit further down the road, still close enough to be in the neighborhood, Gary Cochran was chomping on a fine cigar and mowing the large yard of his ancestral home, if a 1947 birth date and construction of the home can be considered ancestral. I asked if I could photograph his old barn on the premises. He quickly and cheerfully granted this boon. Gary said the home had not been occupied in ten years. It did not have that appearance. Gary takes care of the place. “It would make my mother happy,” he said, and happily continued his labors. Gary is one of the good guys.

Cabin with a carport?

Log cabin with a carport?  Hmmmm?

Not far from Booneville, Arkansas, I came across this log cabin, which appears to be the real thing. I’m betting the metal roof was added later in its life. You can see an entrance door in the middle, and a small door to the right. One reader suggested in an earlier post that a similar small door on an older structure might have been to an interior wood shed. The cabin almost looks like it has a carport. Maybe an add on as well. It’s too low and small for horse-drawn carriages. Your guess is as good as mine. If you like log cabins, you’ll love log barns, check these out.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

PS: If you have friends whom you believe will enjoy these weekly adventures, contact me at one of the links above and I will be happy to add them to the links list. Conversely, if you want to be removed from our list, let me know and we will drop you like a hot potato.

TNX,

JPD

A Cross tree


This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eignties.

This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eighties.

This story started on the Photo of the Week Page at  corndancer.com Click on the link to see the first part of the story, a very cool thing to do.

Frank Cross, an invalid confined to his bed,  was murdered in the mid-eighties at his home which formerly stood behind the tree. The family had the house demolished, but left the fine cedar tree standing as a memorial to Frank, who was an admired member of his community in southeast Arkansas.

Close inspection of the tree base reveals some artifacts which were probably part and parcel of the old home.

historical artifacts under old tree

Apparently, some items and materials which were not removed during the house demolition were left under the tree.This also included a wire wreath holder.

old farm artifacts under tree

Items left under the tree appear to include part of an andiron, which, we presume, was almost certainly used in a fireplace in the old Cross home.

Note in the picture above how flat the grass is laying. The wind was whipping across the Delta fields in the 15 knot neighborhood. It was December 21, the alleged first day of winter. As if programmed to be true, the  temperature was below 30 degrees in that afternoon. The wind chill factor was polar.

In the picture to the left, you see items left under the tree. For the uninitiated, the piece with the spring attached appears to be part of  a cultivator, a tractor towed implement. The object to the right of the cultivator part is probably part of an andiron set. There are some bricks in the foreground, probably from the house.

Human nature being what it is, there was other detritus, probably not a part of the household leftovers. It seems that we humans have some sort of genetic bent to deposit trash where we find other (perceived) trash. There was an old hydraulic hose, some water valve parts and other bits and pieces, not endemic to a house which was probably 75 or 80 years old, when it met its demise. Also a few wrappers and bottles. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out how those got there. In the hot summer, this tree provides best shade for miles, a good place for working people to take a break.

Information for our original story on corndancer.com was generously provided by Chuck and Pam Taylor and Chuck’s mother. Like a dummy, I did not write her name down. Family operates Taylors, a store and restaurant west of Dumas AR. I visited the bistro later and was not dissapointed. Since our first visit, they have changed their business model and now feature fine steaks. They are open for dinner only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

Click here to see nine additional pictures of the tree.

a Yellowjacket nest in the tree.

Mother Nature has assigned tree guard duty to some of her pesky critters, to wit: a Yellowjacket nest in the tree. Interlopers beware.

Thanks for dropping by and Merry Christmas,
Joe

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html