Blog

The Holiday That Should Be

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

7/10/17 – 7/30/17

The Holiday That Should Be

Here is what full summer is like here: It’s been almost 100 degrees day after day. Every afternoon a would-be-refreshing rain shower develops twenty miles away and I watch while it exhausts itself before it gets here. Not a flower is blooming in the yard except for the blessed crape myrtles overhead. Everything that could break in the heat has broken, and the budget is in tatters.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

The last holiday was The Fourth of July, many days ago, and the next is Labor Day, many days away. We need an infusion of festivity here.

Let’s have an additional holiday. Let’s have it August 4th. That’s the midpoint between July 4th and Labor Day, September 4th, and this year it’s a Friday and would give us another three-day weekend! That’s something to celebrate right there, but we can also spice it up with a theme.

Mistakes Man

By fiat hereby there shall be Do Over Day. Since there are no original ideas, I’m pleased to borrow part of one from the south of France, and change it somewhat. I would like it if our new holiday is about a town parade behind a big, really big, effigy named  Mistakes Man.  He looks like a mix between a wonky giant and a mess. He is made of water soluble materials. The parade ends in late afternoon in the middle of the Broadway Bridge. There are drums and tambourines and big dissonant alpine cowbells, and all the people, with a great communal shout, join in throwing Mistakes Man into the river. He dissolves completely.

As the last trace of him melts, a new and even bigger effigy is heaving happily into sight: Do Over.

Do Over

She’s basically the shape of a tomato hornworm but her skin is made of swathy pastel blues, turquoises, golds, and red-golds. She hunches herself toward the crowd, two yards per hunch, and when she arrives all the people turn away from staring down at the water where Mistakes Man was. We gather behind Do Over and follow her toward our dwellings and our festival suppers. We are singing a cappella a sweet simple folk song as the sun goes down.

Back at home we feast, of course, trying not to gobble the main courses too fast in anticipation of our traditional Do Over Day dessert. The Mommyselves have made it ahead of time in skillets handed down through the generations. And finally here it is: Raspberry Swirl Cake!

The recipe is no secret. It has been on Facebook. We want the world to know it:

Ingredients
1.Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix and its ingredient list
2. Seedless raspberry preserves (approximately  5 oz)
3. Greek raspberry yogurt (1 small container, approximately 5 oz)
Steps
1. Make cake mix with the following modifications:
A) instead of “1 C water”: add enough water to the yogurt so as to make 1-1/8 C altogether, and mix thoroughly, and add to cake mix
B) mix the cake mix per its instructions and pour half into a greased #10 iron skillet
C) liquefy the raspberry preserve via microwaving
D) swirl half the preserve into the poured mix
E) put the remaining half of cake mix in skillet and swirl in the rest of the preserve.
2. Bake 350 for 35 min.
Don’t put a topping on it, if you want to be authentic. That’s what the swirl is for.

Guest Artist
This beautiful and expressive 9″ X 11″ oil painting by local artist Kelly Hargis is from my collection. It is one of my favorite paintings of all time.

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn 

The Center of the Universe

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

7/5/17 – 7/9/17

The Artists of Enchanted Habitat

Many accomplished artists live in Enchanted Habitat. We could have the highest concentration of any comparably-sized area in the United States, maybe the world. That includes comparison with places famous for being artists’ meccas.

I’ve heard this same observation from well-traveled art world notables. They come here and are surprised at the number and variety of artists.

Speaking for the moment only of art that can be hung on a wall: wherever you go here, if there is public display space you are likely to be able to look at skilled works by local watercolorists, pastel painters, collagers, oil painters, sketchers, and drawers. Not only do public and for-profit galleries host them but also, often, church halls, libraries, restaurants, public buildings, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and on.

And then there are the three-dimensional works: local artists’ 21st Century statuary and sculpted objects grace many of our public and private grounds, and there are wonders, here, of pottery and ceramics.

I am necessarily leaving out some of the other categories of art and artists, but that is not to diminish them.

Why do we have so many artists here?

My considered answer is, Because so many of our artists are also big-hearted leaders who genuinely care about art, and about other artists.

That answer skips over a lot of ifs, ands, and buts. I am an artist and have been immersed in various aspects of the local art scene for more than ten years. I feel qualified to speak.

Most of the artists here did not get their art educations in universities. They largely acquired their skills on their own through reading, long practice hours, community classes, workshops and demonstrations by local and visiting masters, art groups, plein air groups, peer learning, etc. These educational opportunities don’t just happen. People make them happen: unpaid volunteers who are themselves artists.

Every year in Enchanted Habitat there occur national and regional art shows judged by renowned jurors, with thousands of dollars in prize money. These opportunities for artists to show their work competitively to the public are a gift from the volunteer artist leaders who make it happen. 

All the different artist-fostering initiatives cost money, and volunteer artists conduct the fundraising. Also they do the banking, account for the money, submit the IRS reports, and write the thank-you letters to the donors. And they secure the venues, bring the snacks, and . . . the task list is long and varied.

Time, to an artist, is the precious commodity. Professional or amateur, there is never enough time to do one’s art. Yet many of our artists have been giving away substantial parts of their time doing this volunteer work, unsung, for years, in the background, purely for their love of art and their dedication to other artists. And somehow when a new artist-leader is needed there is always another to step up to the plate.

These are not fictitious people. I know and admire at least a dozen of them, and there are dozens more. If any are reading: You know who you are, and thank you.

Ah, and that brings us to the final bottom line question. Why do we have so many artist-leaders here? 

I don’t know, unless it’s because this is Enchanted Habitat.

 

 


Helpers

From the Green Cathedral

For three consecutive mornings a delightful rainstorm has come before daylight. It is a major pleasure to be in the bed with my warm doggie snuggled against my back, listening to the rain in the dark. Yes, three mornings in a row!

So. Lots of moisture in the back yard, the Green Cathedral. Yesterday morning Beloved Doggie and I waited until the rain stopped and then stepped outside. Here is the little surprise jewel who said hello to me from its new place between the wet flagstones. It was less than an inch wide. (The green leaves that look like a pony’s foot are called, guess what, ponysfoots, officially named dichondra.) By nightfall some small critter had taken two bites out of the pretty mushroom and kicked it off its stalk, maybe in a twit. I hope the biter didn’t get sick. I think the mushroom is Russula emetica, one of the digestively disagreeable kind, though not deadly.

Also three new annuals bloomed this week, and something ate one of them too. That flower was a double daylily which I’ve not seen before in the Green Cathedral. Its predecessors in past years have been single lilies, and I have no way to account for this one unless it is a new volunteer plant. Here it is in full bloom three mornings ago, and  . . .

 

 

 

 

 

. . . here is isn’t, the next day.

Someone went to bed in their little nest that night saying I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing!

 

 

 

The naked ladies are here! (Don’t get too excited.)

And so are the lantana, those clever plants!

 


Guest Artist

This lovely abstract landscape card is part of my collection. It is the work of Patricia Ryan Madson of El Granada, CA, presented with her permission. She made it for me and mailed it to me. What could be nicer than opening an envelope and finding this? Thank you Patricia.

Paper card approximately 4″ X 6″ by Patricia Ryan Madson

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watersheds and Wrens

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

6/25/17 – 7/4/17

The Fourche Creek Watershed

I’ve lived my life in the midst of a natural wonder and never knew it ’til now.

Here is a bird’s-eye view of my new discovery, The Fourche Creek Watershed. (Fourche is pronounced fush, rhyming with bush.) Thanks to Audubon Arkansas for this map and the factual information about it. The annotations are mine. Click on it to enlarge it.

This map shows Fourche Creek and its tributaries, starting in Saline County, flowing east through Little Rock, and emptying into the Arkansas River.

This watershed covers 108,800 acres! About 73% of the surface area of Little Rock drains into it! During a typical storm it can store up to one billion gallons of water!

The city of Little Rock cites the economic value and savings from natural purification in the Fourche bottomlands to be in the millions of dollars. Wikipedia

The creek, watershed, and wetland areas provide water purification, efficient storage of floodwaters, urban noise reduction, air and water pollution control, and wildlife habitat within the city.

Fourche Creek itself is home to over 50 species of fish (one fourth of all Arkansas fish species). Also living there are three hundred year old bald cypress trees, other riparian trees, and a diverse population of permanent and migratory birds.

The tributaries include six third-order streams and nine primary tributaries.  If you don’t already know about stream classifications and are interested you can look here. I’ve been personally acquainted with some of these tributaries off and on all my life, and was surprised to learn about them: that they are tributaries, and how far they travel, and that they have been officially observed and classified.

I’ve heard the name Fourche Creek since I can remember, but it was a vague reference to a creek somewhere around here that nobody I knew was concerned with. If ever as a child I saw a sign designating Fourche Creek, I don’t know it. The term watershed I first heard at age maybe twenty, thirty. My elders had no call to use that word when I was a child, and the subject wasn’t in the curriculum in my early schooldays, nor did it appear in my higher education.

It was Audubon Arkansas that led me to the meaning–and the wonderment–of this watershed (and thus all watersheds). And here in my old age I became curious about exactly where within my native land Fourche Creek is, and what it is.

Within Little Rock’s city limits you can take a wildlife hike or float down Fourche Creek anytime you feel like getting away for half a day. How ’bout that for an Enchanted afternoon?

Unfortunately, not all of Fourche Creek is this pristine-looking. Thoughtless and/or ignorant citizens of Enchanted Habitat have dumped and littered Fourche Creek without mercy throughout the history of the city. Audubon Arkansas publicizes this pollution, and has lead a volunteer cleanup campaign for the last ten years. The volunteers have removed tons of dumped tires, bottles, and general trash, and will keep going. Unsung heroes.

If you want to know about the different kinds of volunteer opportunities sponsored by Audubon Arkansas, you can start here.

Also Audubon Arkansas wants us all to know that anything that flows down a storm drain goes untreated into the nearest waterway. Their efforts toward discouraging dumping in storm drains includes a drain sticker program and an artists’ competitive drain-painting campaign to attract attention to the problem: Drain Smart.

I came back from my fact-finding forays about the Fourche Creek Watershed with a sense of thankfulness and a beginner’s appreciation for this great resource hidden in plain sight.

I hope our national elected officers will reverse the present trend of devaluing the environment and will instead increase funding to help our local people rescue and preserve it. What example of worth could be plainer than the Fourche Creek Watershed?


What We Do for Love (of Carolina wrens)

In a recent post I related my friend’s contest with a Carolina wren who was determined to homestead in her house or at least near a door. We left the tale at the stage called “it’s a draw”, with the bird nesting in a hanging flower basket on the covered back porch.

Chapter Two begins with my friend’s realization that new babies are in that flowered nest, and that she herself must give up her own lovely mini-vacations on the porch, on the chaise, in the shade, drinking tea. I interviewed her about this experience.

She said, “The parents fuss and scold, but I could tolerate that. It’s that they stop feeding the babies while I’m there. I can’t enjoy my time out there because I keep knowing the babies are hungry. They peep regularly.”

She went on to say, though, that she finds giving up her comforts to be a fair trade-off. I asked what she is getting in return for her temporary loss. She said, “Every time I go in and out my back door I get a little gift. The babies (there are either two or three) don’t know to shut up when I’m out there. I hear their little voices get stronger and louder every day. I can go on down to the yard and sit (in the hot sun) and watch the crafty parents feed the babies.

“They approach one at a time. They rarely fly directly to the nest. They light under the porch. Then hop to the railing on the steps. Then the top rail. They take a good look around and then hop up to the nest in the hanging pot. The pot swings, the luckiest baby gets a bug, things are quiet for a few seconds, then the parent perches at the edge of the pot and takes another look around before hopping off and swooping away. During this process, the second parent has usually taken up a waiting position, then takes its turn when the other is finished.

“Why is this so magical? It’s a process that is going on everywhere and is not unusual. But these little birds—I’m getting to know them so well. They are so keen and clever.

“We are living in the same space. I know I probably irritate them, but they get a tradeoff, too. Their comparative tolerance of humans and our ways means that they can get some protection in the little bubble around my house where other wild things are reluctant to come.”


Guest Artist

Applause to Patricia Ryan Madson, my friend from the Etegami Fun Club, for this beautiful melon card and message. Posted with her permission.


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn 

Image credits as noted

Keep Away the Dragons!

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

6/19/17 – 6/24/17

 

Midsummer

Not in Enchanted Habitat, for sure

This week held Midsummer’s Eve; the Summer Solstice; the year’s shortest night followed by the longest day. Here in Enchanted Habitat this marker of Earth’s cycles came and went almost unremarked, as it always does. Well, no, the TV weatherpersons do always mention it. And Wikipedia told me Unitarian Universalists celebrate the summer solstice as a religious holidayBut to my knowledge there were no bonfires here with leaping, dancing, and chanting pertaining to the fecundity of nature; and if ever there have been, nobody told me.

It was only this year that I first realized that we, here, as an overall culture, are among those who ignore the Summer Solstice. When I did think about that (who knows why?) I was disappointed in us at first, but then I got curious. Why is it that we don’t get excited about Midsummer?

Here are some facts I found out. They don’t answer the question, but I think they’re interesting.

European Christianity attempted to bring the great ancient pagan observance of Midsummer under rule and call it St. John’s day. Virtually all of the Western and Eastern European countries’ and Canada’s local populations celebrate Midsummer/St. John’s Day in their own various ways, usually including a big bonfire.

The specific purpose of the bonfires, nowadays, is whatever one wants it to be, the meaning is unspecified. Unspecified, because one wouldn’t be wanting, nowadays, to say it’s to keep away the dragons/bad luck/evil spirits/witches.

Wikipedia listed a few locales in the U.S. as having their own more-or-less-institutionalized observances. None of those places is near here.

Back to the question of Enchanted Habitat’s seemingly-inexplicable indifference to Midsummer. We here are certainly not lacking in archetypal knowledge and tendencies. Scratch a native-born central Arkansan and you will find a secret streak of ancient psyche every time. Secret even from the owner. And that, I conclude, is the answer to the question. Who we really are runs too close to the surface. We dare not turn our real selves loose at Midsummer, and therefore we don’t even think of it.


Friends in Really Low Places

This apparent moonscape is part of my backyard. The photo is cropped from a broader area showing probably a dozen of the round holes.  Each hole is small, about the size of the tip of your little finger. They are bumblebee holes. At least I think that’s what the bees are. If you stand and watch the holes for ten minutes, you will see what appear to be bumblebees arriving one at a time and then cleverly disappearing headfirst down a hole that seems too small for it. Soon you will see a bee emerge and lift slowly up into the air and then zoom off fast, like a wee fuzzy jet plane.

I’ve seen this all my life; it’s a common sight here. Always, I’ve assumed each bee has its own little house, does its own thing. Now I’m wondering if all those little houses are connected down there under the earth. From what I can read without devoting my life to it, there are many many kinds of bumblebees, and all are colony creatures, and the members of a colony live together and have a queen, etc., same as honeybees only not so organized. And nowhere in my reading have I found a reference to single little holes near each other in the bare dirt.

If any readers know the answer to what’s going on down there, or not going on, kindly enlighten us.

My second underground friend, here, stays at least part of the time in this hole.  I think the hole goes all the way under the house. If you guessed chipmunk, you get a blue ribbon. I think he’s the same one who has another hole near the fence. That one, he has to defend. I’ve seen him attack a full grown squirrel that came too near that hole. Mr. C. Munk likes to use the patio as a shortcut on his way here and there, no matter that we scare each other all the time. This is how I found out that chipmunks scream. I read that their screaming helps them elude predators by surprising and confusing them. I think someone made that up. They probably just scream when they’re scared,  same as we do.


Prime Time to Dine Alfresco

My friends will tell you I will never eat outside if I have a choice. I’m very interested in fauna, but not in my food. I included this picture because other people say they like to eat alfresco. Enjoy!


Photo, Bonfire in Freiburg im Breisgau by Ralf Johann, in Wikipedia

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Friends in High and Low Places

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

6/11/17 – 6/18/17

 

from Waterfall
by Chris Williamson

When you open your life to the living
all things come spilling in on you
and you’re flowing like a river,
the Changer and the Changed.
You got to spill some over.
Filling up and spilling over, it’s an endless waterfall . . . 


Friends in High and Low Places

The stubborn robin who was in the standoff with me about whether she would build her nest in my patio ceiling fan finally gave up and raised her family somewhere else. I’m glad she wasn’t a Carolina wren. Humans are no match for them.

Wrens are smart, explorative, and bold, and they believe human houses and household accessories are theirs. When one of them scouts your house and gets it in her mind to nest on the patio or porch, you are in for it. It doesn’t matter that they are wee tiny. To begin with, they can scare you half to death.

A friend told me this story. Last year she kept her garden gloves and tools in a rubber bucket by the door on her back porch, which is roofed. She walked within a foot of it two or three times a day without a clue that a bird had appropriated it. Then came a day to tend the garden. My friend said when she reached down into the bucket and the bird exploded up out of there, it scared her so much something changed in her brain. She was left with a permanent aversion to the bucket.

But that’s not all for this friend who is a winner in all ways except wren ways. She has dogs, and she has a doggie door, and sometimes she leaves that open. And this year guess what.

She says it is the same bird who nested in the bucket. AKA the same bird whose little beak cut and removed strands of aluminum wire from the bedroom window screen, trying to get in. She first knew it was in the house when her delicate hanging mobile made crashing sounds instead of tinkles. The dogs never even knew the bird was there. Dogs have senses so much keener than ours, you know. Their mistress ushered them to the other side of the French doors. Then she turned off all the lights and headed toward the back door, thinking to open it wide. But the wren beat her there and zoomed out through the doggie door.

This bird soon chose a place outside the house but still under roof: the vinca basket hanging on the back porch. You can see the nest under construction.

 

 

 

My own latest tale of contests with takeover critters begins and ends with No Contest. A year ago I hung an empty watering can on the patio wall and later found dry grass in it, abandoned bird nest material. I meant to empty and clean it. Meant to only. Now, a bumblebee lives in there. One bumblebee, I think, who, several times a day verrrrry sloooowly and mindfully floats in from its doings like a peaceful monk, and disappears into the can. I figure if I’ve left the can one year I can leave it two. Namaste.

 


‘Tis the Season for the Swimming

However old you are, however many memories you have by now (or don’t), I bet you remember being in the swimming pool in summer when you were a little kid.  I do.

I also have some great memories from when I was older, of teaching little kids to swim. That experience was one of the more worthwhile (and fun!) things I’ve ever done. The picture below is a lesson group of 20 years ago at the YWCA in Little Rock. That institution exists no more in Enchanted Habitat,  I’m sorry to say.

Swim Kids

‘Tis Also the Season for Fresh Garlic

My friend gifted me with newly harvested garlic just in time. Last year’s was getting  sparse in its terra cotta house, and showing signs it might be about to go off. Only garlic could last a year anyway. And the new crop is all that the old was. Thank you Friend, thank you Earth, thank you Garlic!

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Waterfall photo copyright Can Stock Photo

Carolina wren photo from Wikimedia Commons by John Flannery from Richmond County, North Carolina, USA – Carolina Wren, CC BY-SA 2.0

Wild Berries, Peasant Bread, Hillbilly Bruschetta

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

6/4/17 – 6/10/17

 

The Berries are Ripening Here!

Do you like blueberries? Blackberries? Both? In Enchanted Habitat you can be very happy soon.  My Good Gardener Friend keeps me informed of her blueberries’ progress from green-ness through peachy-ness to indigo-ness. This sketch was their state two days ago. I love looking at them better than eating them: my true love is The Wild Blackberry, and those are getting ripe too.

It’s hard for me to write about wild blackberries without getting excessive.

The best way to eat blackberries begins with picking them yourself. Find a wild patch on your own, or ask people until you find someone who knows. Folk who know are the kind likely to share the treasure map with you. (No one is likely to give you actual berries they’ve picked; we are mere mortals after all.) Prepare against chiggers and snakes, put on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and a straw hat for sheer effect, hang a bucket in the crook of your arm, and wade into the thorny brambles to where the best ones are. If you have scouted out a good patch, when you finish your fingers will be punctured and sore to the bone, your skin ripped in several places along with the so-called protective clothing, you will itch in unscratchable places, and you will take home a third to a half bucketful of berries. Wash them gently to get the occasional bugs out. Put a handful of the berries in a single-size bowl. Pour a little genuine heavy cream over them. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on, and stir to dissolve it.  Dive in. If you are of my spiritual clan the pain in your fingers will transpose into a set of wondrous sensations at the back of your tongue and also you will forget every other trouble you ever had.

Your brain will recognize the distilled flavor of the cosmos itself, from the moment of The Big Bang until now.

If I’ve made Wild Blackberry Eating sound like the quest and finding of the holy grail, it just about is.

Commercially grown blackberries are a step down, and it’s an exponential step, but if I can’t get the real thing I’m not too proud to eat bought ones. They don’t cause me to rhapsodize though.

 


Roadside Wildflowers

While you’re at the roadsides looking for blackberries you may notice that the crimson clover is out of season now and gone, replaced largely by Queen Anne’s lace and black-eyed Susans.  Thanks to the U. of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for this photo of the prolific Queen Anne’s lace, with elegant flowers that actually do look like exquisite handmade lace and are sometimes the size of saucers.

The black-eyed Susans are the perfect visual complement to the Queen Anne’s lace, in color and in shape. I will leave you to look below and imagine that their petals are yellow-orange and their centers are black-brown, and that they are  contraposed against their  companion “weeds”.


Hillbilly Bruschetta

The first of the homegrown tomatoes are coming in at the farmers’ market! If I made it sound like wild blackberries are my favorite food–they are, and so are homegrown tomatoes. One way I like to eat good tomatoes is: bruschetta on homemade bread.

We didn’t have bruschetta here when I grew up. It’s an import. I discovered it well into my middle-age, and an old dog can teach herself a new trick. I first tasted it at the local Olive Garden. Their servings of it are sparing, which is what my grandmother taught me to say instead of chinchy or stingy. Also they drain the juice out of it, the best part. Like any born-and-bred woman of Enchanted Habitat, my initial thought was, “Hmm. This is pretty good but I could make it  better–and enough of it.” Here is the resulting recipe. Click to enlarge.

Now as to the bread– not that all I can think about is food–here is my favorite to go with hillbilly bruschetta.  I got this simple, superb recipe when a friend of 60 years re-posted it on Facebook. I don’t think I ever had the name of the woman who originally shared it; my hat is off to her. Below is my lift of the recipe. She didn’t name it, so I gave it a title.

Crusty Bread Baked in Cast Iron Pot


From The Creatures Gazette

Among our faerie folk here is a strain who masquerade as man-made objects.  They are usually motionless when mortals are around. One of them lives close to the door of El Porton restaurant in Little Rock, and the other day I may have seen him move.

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

Come Saturday Morning

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

5/27/17 – 6/3/17

Come Saturday Morning

It is the second Saturday after the schools let out for summer. The streets in my neighborhood are extra friendly to pedestrians and riders of non-motorized wheeled things. Pre-teen boys especially appreciate the locale, and I’m hoping some will ride by and grace the view out there. Last year a small group met up at the intersection near my house most of the Saturday mornings of the season. Boys of any age don’t much hold still, but I did manage to get this sketch of them.

Later I took a photo and did this painting of two of them who lasted as a pair longer than the others. They put me in mind of a song of 1970.

Come Saturday Morning

Come Saturday morning
I’m goin’ away with my friend
We’ll Saturday-spend til the end
of the day
Just I and my friend
We’ll travel for miles in our
Saturday smiles
And then we’ll move on
But we will remember long after
Saturday’s gone

(Music by Fred Karlin, lyrics by Dory Previn)

 


Two Rivers Park

Two Rivers Park, Little Rock, AR, USA

We of the county and the city where I live were blessed in recent years to have had governmental officials who cared about nature and beauty and about our citizens’ ability to access those. These good leaders took actions to turn visions into reality. One result is our county’s remarkable Two Rivers Park.

I live in midtown and I can get to the park in 15 minutes, thanks in part to a new pedestrian bridge at its eastern tip. You can see the bridge in the lower right hand corner of the photo if you enlarge this photo.

This huge (1,000 acres) park is a peninsula bordered by the Arkansas River on its north side and the Little Maumelle River on its south. The two rivers converge at the tip of the park; thus its name.

There are 450 acres of mostly wooded wetlands and 550 acres of open fields.

This incredible getaway place offers both paved and dirt trails for walking, cycling, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Also there are canoe launching, fishing and picnic areas.

If you want to have a big vegetable garden you can rent a tract there, and be in company with other community gardeners.

Deer live there year-around, protected. The haiga/haiku below was inspired by one of several encounters with the deer.

The deer will watch you calmly unless you come too close; then they magically melt away and become invisible in the high growth of the fields.

Hundreds of Eastern bluebirds are there sometimes. Can you imagine looking across a field and realizing you are seeing hundreds of bluebirds? And other wildlife of course. It is a paradise for birdwatchers, photographers, artists, and nature enthusiasts.

There is also an area that showcases native trees by transforming some of the fields into a walkable Garden of Trees.

The park is a connected part of the Arkansas River Trail, which is a fantastic story unto itself, a topic in a later blog post.

 


Speaking of Bluebirds

© 2017 dosankodebbie

One thing does lead to another. Serendipitously my friend dosankodebbie in Japan posted this photo of her latest etegami today. If you don’t already know about etegami, it is Japanese postcard art done according to certain guidelines. One of my favorite kinds of art to do, and to look at. There is a great Facebook Group, Etegami Fun Club, administered by Debbie. If you are interested in learning (free!) how to do etegami, go to dosankodebbie’s online summary.

 


In the Green Cathedral

The butter lilies in the back yard have been coming and going for a week.

 Once again, great gratitude to the previous owner of this house. The lilies line the back fence. I’ve lived here about 20 years and they’ve never failed to rise up out of the ground and add their glory to creation.

 

 


Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn