The Gem and the Setting

34.7º N 92.2 W.  Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

4/10/17 – 4/14/17

You are Here
Thanks to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for this nice map of Arkansas which shows the special placement of my homeland.
https://www.arkansas.com/maps/
There are other maps with somewhat different boundaries, but this is representative enough. We are in the middle of five other regions, each with its own different nature, and we exchange influences with all of them. We are more than a melting pot, we have our own nature, but if any one of the regions is likely to have something in common with every one of the others, it’s us. I can drive less than an hour west or north and I will still be in my region but will be going up and down foothills. Going east or southeast I’ll be in flat plantation land.

Bayou Bartholomew
My house is in the middle of a metropolitan population of about 300,000, but the second-most biodiverse stream in North America originates less than 45 miles away: the great, historic Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the U.S. It is home to 100 aquatic species. It flows 350 miles southeast in the state and on down into Louisiana, virtually separating the Timberlands from the Delta. It has an interesting story, past and present. Here are two info links.

Photo of The Bayou close to its headwaters, near Pine Bluff, AR.  Photo courtesy of Keith Yahl – Flickr: Pine Bluff Arkansas, CC BY 2.0

Grandmotherly influences – it goes both ways
One of my grandmothers was from the Ozarks, and the other was from deep in the state’s Delta. When they were young adults they each came to live here in the middle. I picked up a lot from both of them, fortunately. The two of them not only talked differently from each other, they cooked and ate differently. Neither of them had a recipe book that I know of. They had it in their heads. Nor did they write down how they did it. An odd thing is, I don’t need to refer to anything when I cook something the way one of them did. And rarely, just rarely, in what I like to think of as a stroke of genius, I change something in one of their non-existant recipes. For instance my Hillbilly Grandmother never heard of cheesedip, and it’s just great to put on grits ‘n redeye gravy!

We Got There In Time!
I was afraid the Crimson Clover might peak and fade before I could photograph it, but thanks to the help of a dear friend who drove me there and kept me from falling down, I got pictures this morning.
Every year in late March to early April, the clover blooms in expanses on all four sides of the I-630 interstate exit onto Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock. For a limited time only. To those of us who wait in our cars at the stoplights there, they are a wonder. And so that nobody else will be as ignorant as I used to be: clover that is the color pink is named Red Clover, and clover that is the color red is named “Crimson Clover”. Got that?

And not only the clover is there now: also there are stands of violet Vetch, and stretches of some small pure yellow flower I haven’t identified (it’s visible in the interior of the photo above). Here is a photo of the Vetch, which is growing there in smaller portions.

But spring will not be the end of this story of glory at the Interstate Exit. Different flowers appear here as the seasons change. I know I can look forward to abundant Black Eyed Susans, white Queen Anne’s Lace, and yellow Bitterweed–and more, but those are the ones that stand out in my memory.

And further still: Not shown in the photo is an area of land that belongs to the highway and abuts it, but is never mowed and is home to a beautiful tangle of trees and shrubby growth that flower in the spring and flame in the fall. This area has been let to return to a mini-wilderness, and due to the terrain it is almost marshy. It is home to many birds, and I especially see the male red-winged blackbirds there.

I found out that our state’s highway department partners with the parks and tourism department to do wildflowers in many places, and this is one of them. If what I learned plus what I deduce is the whole truth and nothing but, this little wild area at the I-630 exit is probably officially designated as a “Natural Zone”, bordered by the “Transition Zones” of wildflowers. I much approve of such a wonderful use of our taxpayer dollars!

The Cardinals
Three Redbirds are hanging out in the yard lately: two males and a female. I don’t know if it’s that the males are duking it out, or if the threesome is a ménage à trois. Cardinals adapt.Three years ago a pair of them had a nest that failed, and their reaction was to start feeding some nearby baby robins. They and the parent robins got along well and kept the babies worn out gulping all the meals, all the way through the growing-up process. The end result was fine in all directions as far as I could tell.

From today’s Creatures Gazette:
DOG CLAIMS, EATS ROSE
Last year the yard man cut down one of the rosebushes. I only realized it two days ago when I saw something red blooming a foot off the ground. The poor brave bush had produced a rose from its stock, below where the grafted hybrid used to be.  Roses are not my favorite art subject but this one deserved to be noted somehow, and I fetched my sketching bag and fold-up seat. It’s beyond me how some animals know exactly what you’re paying attention to, but I had no more than opened my sketchbook when The Dog softly, finely, pulled an outermost petal from the rose and ate it. And then another. I folded my arms and watched while she ate one more. When she noticed I was watching her and not the rose, she stopped eating. And started again when I stared at the rose. We played a few rounds of this game and then we left the bedraggled flower and went into the house.

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Gem and the Setting

  1. Ruth, this is lovely! I was so curious to see crimson clover! Do remember the strange and wonderful song from the 60’s called Crimson and Clover? It was a rather historic recording for several reasons.
    I don’t have any idea if there’s a connection at all, but I wanted to see crimson clover. I’m rambling.
    Thank you for this nice blog entry.

    Like

    1. Gail, thanks for looking and your encouraging comment. No, there was no connection with the song and my blog. I had never heard Crimson and Clover before. E and I watched several artists’ renditions. If you have time I would be really interested to know why it’s historic. I want you to know how much I thank you for supporting my blog.

      Like

  2. Ah, Ruth, you have me smiling again. The doggie game with you and the rose is funny. I like the story of your two grandmothers, and cheese dip on grits sounds like a winner to me. My grandmother liked fresh lettuce wilted with hot bacon grease, which seemed gross to me. I’d probably like it now.

    Loved every word. Thank you again. It occurred to me that spring is a perfect time to start a new blog. You’re blooming again.

    Like

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