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

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A corny story


corn grainery

Corn is steadily stacking up at this grain storage facility in south Arkansas. It was August 6, 2011, hot, dry, and perfect for harvesting corn, discounting the comfort level concurrent with 100-degree plus temperatures and high humidity.

Six finger falls

Click on the picture to see Six Finger Falls Corndancer dot.com

Archive post featured this week.

There is not a new post this week, but we have updated a very popular previous post, “Only in the Ozarks, these falls, this store” with pictures we shot on the same trip in July of 2009, but have not published. These images are seeing the light of day for the first time.

In that post, we take a look at some cool water falls, an old store, and other scenes you find in the Ozarks. This now updated post is one of the most visited on the site.

Corn de-thrones cotton

Corn reigns here where cotton was once king in LA (lower Arkansas). In mid-20th century years about the only corn you saw was in a garden patch bound to become “ros’nears.” (For the uninitiated to the southern mother tongue, “ros’near” is a contraction of “roasting ear,” which refers to an ear of corn ready to cook and eat.) As in, “Momma, Cletus gimme a mess of ros’nears. “Well idn that nice Bubba. I’ll fix ’em for supper tonight if yew’ll shuckem.” “Aw-ight, yes ma’am.”

praying leaves

Click on the leaves to see how this story started

I’m guessing at one time folks roasted corn, but in my family, it was boiled in butter and salt. If you are somewhat adventurous, you add a bit of Zataran’s Crab Boil to the water. Gives a distinct taste and a little zinger of pepper.

A week later, LA was drenched by a series of long-awaited rain storms.  We talk about the long dry spell on the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot-com. Click on the link and get in on the drought and the relief proffered from on-high.

See more pictures of rain-soaked greenery and
the corn harvest in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Giant grain bins

Take a look at the man in the bottom of the picture and you get an idea of the enormity of the gigantic grain bins. Orville Redenbachers dream scene.

See more pictures of rain-soaked greenery and
the corn harvest in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

When cotton was king, the harvest came much later and for the most part, that was that. No more crops until next spring when it was time to plant cotton again. Now most farmers raise two crops a year from the same field. Corn and winter wheat are a good rotation. Some rotate soy beans and winter wheat. These fields were cultivated by men and mules in our lifetime. (At least some of our lifetimes). They are now cultivated by men in tractors as big as a small cabin, guided by a GPS.

fire plug reflection in puddle

Sometimes, particularly after a prolonged period of parching, a puddle is a positive premonition that the environment is pushing to parity.

 A week later we finally were subjected to a downpour of sorts. I’d give it about a 5.5 on a scale of ten. Despite a mediocre rain, the grass and yard plants recovered in record time. Their resilience is amazing. When the weather has been as dry as it has been here, a fire plug reflecting in a puddle becomes a welcome site. Perhaps even an art form. Life goes on.

rain drop on leaf

Click on the water drop for more pictures

SEE MORE CORN HARVEST and
GREENERY pictures
In our Weekly Grist Gallery

See larger pictures of what you’ve seen here plus more pictures from the same shooting sessions. Twelve in all: Hot and dry, wet and green.

Thanks,
Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

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

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

A Twist of fate


Thunderhead forming over wheat field

A thunderhead is forming in the distance from this winter wheat field on Arkansas Highway 42, not far from Twist, Arkansas, north of Earle. Fortunately a storm did not materialize.

The sign said Twist with an arrow pointing to the right, a temptation too rich with mystery to avoid. On the way to Twist, the cloud formation was similarly too good to resist. Late afternoon sunlight is the best, particularly this time of year when mother earth is freshly greened. This was just the first stop on the Twist adventure.

blonde bean field angel

Blond bean field angel

The last stop was to shoot a statuesque grave marker, an blond angel no-less, standing alone in a bean field. Before we go too much further, take a look at the bean-field angel on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do and a trip you will enjoy. It’s not often that one encounters a blond bean field angel. But, regarding trips through the Arkansas hinterlands, one can always fall back on an observation by the immortal Fats Waller, to wit: ” … one nevah know do one?” Note: May 31, 2010: I came up with some additional information on the angel which may be of interest. The additional information is now posted on the Photo of the Week page, link above.

Once we shot the cloud formation, it was off again to Twist, Arkansas. Twist is what’s left of theTwist Plantation, an agricultural venture of the past. Twist was a typical company town. The company owned everything. It was well organized with courts, a jail, a water system and a company store.

tree tunnel in Twist, Arkansas

Twist is not a big town, but is has a giant, world-class tree-tunnel. Way, way, cool

Dan Douglas, a resident of Twist and an employee of the current operators was congenial and filled me in with Twist information. As I was shooting, I could hear birds singing a whippoorwill-like chant in the background. Turns out, according to Dan, I was listening to the industrial strength cooing of Ring-Necked Doves, a species he says is unique to the immediate area.

How Lucille got her name

Virtually any blues fan knows blues legend BB King has always named his current Gibson guitar Lucille. I have often wondered why. Although I have not lost any sleep over it, I was glad to know the answer. I found it in Twist.

How BB King named Lucille

Thanks to the good folks of Twist, now we know.

Mind you, this odyssey of the unusual is happening in the waning hours of the trip. I had begun to think there would not be much out of the ordinary that would go home on my camera cards. Wrong again.

ivy covered barn

Moving right along after we left Twist on Highway 42, the next surprise was the barn being eaten by ivy. There’s got to be a building in there somewhere.

Earlier in the day

Earlier in the day, heading north on US 79 from home-base in Pine Bluff, Arkansas,  we stopped in Wabbaseka and long overdue, shot the Wabbaseka United Methodist Church. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wabbaseka United Methodist Church

While just about everything else in Wabbaseka has suffered a fate all to common in small rural agricultural communities in the nation, the Wabbaseka United Methodist Church is a pristine premises. Call it Divine Intervention if you will, but I’m betting sweat equity is more apt.

Further north past Clarendon on the way to Forrest City, we found a substantial flag waving at what appeared to be a farm headquarters. I decided if it was worth flying, it was worth shooting.

Flag on the highway

Camera perspective is fooling your eyes. That flag is about half as long as the truck trailer.

U. S. 79, in these parts is affectionately remembered as “the old road to Memphis.” It was a major thoroughfare until the interstate highway system lured travelers and trucks to its high speed concrete ribbons. Many a thriving business, dependent on highway traffic, went down “… like a one-egg puddin.’ ”

old store on US 79

Though disheveled, disrespected and dumpy in appearance, this old service station on US 79 must have some lingering use. The light bulb above the upper right corner of the door was burning when I shot this picture, prima facie evidence that something is worth a “light bill.”

Small railroad bridge

Click the bridge for more and bigger pictures

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high resolution and larger that the posts.

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high resolution and larger that the posts. This week includes a railroad bridge and another view of the ivy barn. Click here to go there.

Thanks for visiting our meandering. It’s a nasty job, but someone’s got to do it.

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