CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - NOVEMBER 2011 Journal Archives
Cloudland Cabin Cam November 30, 7:41am - clear and cold - a spectacular day in the wilderness!
Slide show this Friday in Harrison and Saturday in Bentonville
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE at our canvas gallery December 10th
NEW limited-edition poster-size print available - Frozen Glory Hole Waterfall, 24" x 36" only $99.95!
SPECIAL BONUS - all images from our new ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III picture book are available this month only at the same low Print Of The Month price for 11x14s - here is the online gallery to choose from.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 30th - the magic hour
11/03/11 Wow, is it NOVEMBER already? Time flies! It is cold and rainy here early this morning but it is great to have the wet coming down again. Before too long - once the trees have gone dormant - the rains that fall will begin to fill up the creeks and waterfalls and we'll have a winter and spring and early summer filled with great moving water scenes again! Water seems to add life to just about everything - not only literally, but also visually and emotionally.
On the water note, while on a trip home from being out of state yesterday I stopped by a swamp just off of I-40 near Brinkley, AR and spent some time taking pictures of a lovely little swamp there. The water levels seemed normal for this time of the year, the air was calm, and there was some nice color in the cypress and other trees - not quite peak yet, but a good splash of color for sure. I LOVE the shapes and "look" of cypress swamps, and just being there in one of them makes my soul soar. I always like reflections too! I guess part of all that is the fact that they are so foreign to me, and to most people since we hardly ever get to see and experience them up close and personal. Most things you hear about swamps are negative, but I've had quite the opposite experience - and hope to have a lot more great times in swamps! I highly recommend them, and like most natural places they are best experienced early or late in the day for the best light and color.
Sunrise at Robe Bayou, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area
We are headed to Ft. Smith today for the world premier of our new ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III slide program - 7pm at the Janet Huckabee Nature Center (hosted by the local camera club). I put the finished touches on the slide show late last night and am looking forward to presenting it to everyone. As always, these programs are free and open to the public. AND we'll have all of our new books, calendars, and holiday greeting cards on sale, as well as all our other books on sale too - show up EARLY and bring your shopping list! We will have the entire family there (Pam and her parents will be doing most of the heavy work, I'll just be standing around pushing buttons!), so be sure to say hi.
The first part of the slide show tonight will include about half of the new waterfalls from the new waterfall guidebook, which will be on sale before and after the show - unfortunately most of those photos have this strange guy wearing green shorts and a hat in there for scale, but we all need a good laugh now and then!
Our next program will be late next week in Hot Springs Village, then the week after we have five programs in five different towns in seven days - yikes!
Color seems to be hanging on up here in the Ozarks - some really beautiful trees still in peak bloom, especially maple trees, but also oaks and hickories and sweet gums, oh my! The color is spreading to other parts of the state as well - I only wish I had more time to get out and shoot it all. One of these years I am not going to schedule anything in the fall and just spend an entire month out in the woods.
I'll be in our print room most of the next week working on new canvas prints for our first upcoming open house at the gallery here on November 12th. I hope to have some great new prints for you to enjoy, but there will also be lots of my favorite classic prints too - ALL ON SALE at HALF PRICE!!! It is a long rough ride to get here, but we're hopeful it will be worth it - combine the trip with a hike on a nearby trail - or just drive through Boxley and gaze at the elk or eagles and you'll have a fine trip.
Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but we have just added one of my most favorite waterfall photos of all time to our Limited-Edition Poster-Size Print sale - only 20 will be printed, a giant 24" x 36" size, for only $99.95! This image of Twin Falls at the peak of fall color was taken several years ago when we had both high water and spectacular fall color at the same time.
11/07/11 It is raining softly early this morning with lots of green stuff on the radar as far west as I can see - I LOVE rainy days and Mondays - thank you Karen Carpenter! (one of my all-time favorite songs - actually a love song) Today is a typical day for me like many of you - my plate is entirely too full and I won't be able to even begin to get all the things done I want to do, so some decision must be made. With lots of COLOR blazing away in other parts of Arkansas, and moisture in the air that really makes those colors pop, I should be somewhere taking pictures. But our first holiday open house of the season is looming in five days and so I will be here working in the print room all day, every waking moment (after I make this post).
Creating the big canvas prints is almost as exciting for me as hunting down a wonderful scene to photograph - it is nearly the end to the full circle for me - the actual connection point would be when someone gasps at the final image and just has to have it for their wall because they love it so much - as I do each and every one. If I could give prints away to everyone and still make a living I would do exactly that. I do work hard to take pictures for the sheer joy of being there and of the process, but I also work hard to make prints so that others can enjoy AND appreciate the great natural beauty that we have all around us.
Speaking of those canvas prints, I think we will have about as many canvas prints on display this coming Saturday in the gallery as we've ever had before - making it the largest display of fine art canvas prints anywhere in Arkansas. ALL will be on sale at half price - and some even at super special prices (we have to make room for more prints!). Many prints will be brand new and never shown before, while others are classics that I just keep printing because I love them so (sorry, I can't help it!). There will be lots of prints from the new ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III picture book too. At least one canvas will be an image that I took more than 20 years ago - and I'll probably print one that I took just day before yesterday that I have not even told you about yet. We'll have holiday music and grandma's homemade cookies and lots of great friends stopping by during the day - we'll be open from 10am-4pm on Saturday. This is the first of three open houses this season.
Saturday was another day like today in that my plate was full - I tried to eat as much of it as I could though. After making frames and stretching five new canvas prints in the morning, I loaded up the van and headed south in search of a bit of fall color - perhaps my last opportunity this year to photograph the splendid display we've had. I wound up on top of Mt. Magazine, the tallest point in Arkansas. The actual "peak" of the state is kind of flat and boring, but the bluffs that surround the mountain are always interesting, and there was no shortage of great color as the hardwood forest spread out below was blazing away with COLOR! The wind was howling so my selection of composition was somewhat limited, but it was wonderful just to stand there at the edge of such a place and soak it all in.
This was one of those trips folks ask me about all the time - do I head off in search of a pre-conceived picture that I want to find? The answer on this trip was YES. So after I made the rounds of the top of Mt. Magazine I headed on down the other side to a lake at the foot of the great mountain, Blue Mountain Lake. I had lingered either too long in the print room that morning or too long standing on the bluffs high above, but I did not have too much time to scout out and locate the composition that I had dreamed up before.
I ended up standing on the lakeshore looking at white caps from the high winds, and not nearly as much color as was up on top of the mountain. No matter - this was as much a scouting trip for a future photograph as it was realtime shooting - something I do a lot more than actual picture taking. I happened to spot a couple of cypress trees along the shore a ways off, so I grabbed my small camera system and headed on over to them just to see what they looked like. Turned out they looked really nice - an unexpected delight!
I ran around the lake shore for 30 minutes taking pictures of the cypress and the lake, and with each picture it seemed like the winds got less and less - which meant the reflections got better and better. And then I looked up and realized that they western sky just might fill with color at sunset, and there I was shooting with my small camera and not the big one. So I abandoned my tripod and camera and sprinted along the lakeshore back to my van, gathered up the big camera and ran back along the lake. Just in that amount of time the sky did indeed begin to fill with beautiful color - and I could see what was about to happen.
The next five minutes were one of those times that happen rarely in one's career, but enough to keep you going. If I would have had five cameras all set up and pointed the same direction I could not have been able to shoot enough pictures of the colorful sky, the silhouetted cypress trees, and their reflections - the wind had pretty much died completely - a perfect storm for me! There were so many compositions, so much COLOR in the sky, and way too many decisions to make - some composition required the extra-wide angle lens that only my small camera had, so I had to switch to that camera for a few pictures, then back to the big camera for everything else. At one point - no probably every 20 seconds - I would scream out - "wait, SLOW DOWN!" because the color was building and peaking and then starting to fade all too fast for me. When the color finally faded I sat down in a heap of exhaustion on the shoreline - it had been one of THOSE moments that we nature photographers dream about (and then worry about until we get our filed downloaded and inspected on the computer later to know if they really turned out or not).
The wind picked up again during the night and clouds moved in, and even though I had another vision of what the morning might bring, it was not nearly the same. I drove back up to the top of the mountain in darkness and hiked down to "the tree" along the top of the bluff and sat next to it and waited for some great light to appear. I had first discovered this tree back in the early 1980's while exploring the bluffline - I love to run blufflines from one end to the other looking for views and other interesting compositions. Back then I made many trips from my home in Fayetteville before dawn to get a good picture of this tree - and I finally did, which was one of the first photographs in the beginning of my first-ever ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO picture book. That first picture has been published many times in lots of places (including as a poster for a musical group - it does sort of look like a violin player). I've also seen many other photos of this tree taken by lots of photographers - it has become somewhat the icon of Magazine Mountain.
Anyway, I spent an hour or two with this beautiful old twisted and weathered friend as we both hugged the bluff tightly to keep from being blown off. There was some light eventually, but not much of it, and the old tree never stopped thrashing around in the high winds, so the photograph I was hoping for never appeared (I needed calm winds). But I did get some interesting photos of my old friend, and will visit them next year when I work on putting together yet another new picture book.
I said goodbye to the tree and the mountain and headed back home again, but stopped a time or two along the way to take pictures - there was/is some great color right now along the front range of the Ozarks, right where the mountains rise up out of the grand river valley below. At one point I pulled my van off the highway and spent nearly an hour walking up and down the road, stopping to photograph one scene after another. And with the exception of a little wind generated by passing cars, there was not a wisp of wind, YIPPIE!
There is no wind here this morning, nor any daylight yet, and I'm headed on over to lock myself away in the print room. I love Mondays because it gives me all week to get stuff done - by the time Friday rolls around I will be in a panic because there will be so much left to do, and we'll be giving a program in Hot Springs Village (10am, free and open to the public). But there is always Friday night and Saturday morning.....I hope you have a grand week, and hope we get to see ya on Friday, or at our open house!
Here are a few snapshots from my quick trip down south - Mt. Magazine bluff, view of Blue Mountain Lake, cypress just before sunset, cypress just after sunset (2), hardwood forest along Hwy. 21...
Predawn at the cabin on November 12th:
11/13/11 Winds have been HOWLING here for the past couple of days, only increasing during the night. Sometimes it feels like the cabin is about to lift off and join the leaves that are sailing through the air. Howling, swirling, ROARING winds. Oh to be a kite - or a hawk with a full belly and lots of time to just go play in the currents. I have seen several hawks taking advantage of the strong winds - they will position themselves in an air current and hold their wings/tail just right so that they can hover in place - takes a little practice I'm sure, and every now and then a strong gust will jolt them a little out of place, but they will correct themselves and be right back in the same hover spot within seconds - I wonder if they are keeping an eye on a certain opening in the forest for critter movement?
We had a splendid gallery open house yesterday, with more than 200 folks making the long and rough journey up to Cave Mountain to visit all the big canvas prints and eat some of granny's homemade cookies! THANKS TO ALL WHO ATTENDED! It was so great to see so many folks return, but also to meet so many more new people who had never been to the gallery before. We had about 90 gallery-wrapped canvas prints on display in sizes ranging from 11x14 inches up to 5x8 feet. With beautiful music in the background, it was kind of like walking through a slide show, only you could stop and gaze at any individual picture as long as you wanted!
We tried to snag and give each visitor a free copy of our CLOUDLAND JOURNAL ~ BOOK ONE. We have determined that through a fluke that happened when we switched hosting services a couple of months ago that all the files from the first six years of the Journal were destroyed and are no longer available online. That means the only place you can read the first year will be in the book. We plan to extend the free book giveaway at all of our open houses this fall here at the gallery. You can also pick up a copy for only $10 at any of our slide programs this year.
I've spent pretty much all waking hours this past week either on the road or locked in the gallery print room making prints for the open houses, and filling print orders. My lovely bride has been keeping up with all the online and phone book orders for both individuals and retail stores. This coming week will be unlike any other we've ever had - with five programs in five different towns in seven days, oh my! We'll be gone so much that we've had to hire a house sitter to be here while we're gone (although we will still drive back and forth each day - Aspen doesn't like to sleep with strangers!). The next open house at the canvas gallery will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
But later today I plan to make a quick trip down into the swamps and other points south in search of interesting photos - this will be the last photo trip of the fall season. I am working on a new picture book that will include images from all over Arkansas during all seasons (available next fall, as always!).
FYI, our friend who has owned the access to Home Valley Bluff has SOLD his property and the public is no longer allowed access to this lovely area. I had originally included the access route across his land at his urging in two previous guidebooks of mine (to some great waterfalls, and also to the famous Tea Table Rocks), but all that info was removed several years ago since I knew he would eventually sell his beloved Home Valley Bluff property. There is no legal way to access this area from above now. And also the old "short cut" route down to Hawksbill Crag was closed to public assess a year ago - even though some "locals" continue to tell folks it is OK to use that route, you are trespassing if you do. The public trail from Cave Mountain road is just a short hike to the Crag anyway and is the best way to go (this is included in all of my guidebooks that cover the area). It is always a good idea to avoid all private land unless you have permission DIRECT for the actual landowner. A few bad apples spoil it for everyone.
There continues to be tens of thousands of acres of public land in Arkansas that have been relatively unseen by modern folks seeking natural beauty and outdoor recreation - actually more like hundreds of thousands of acres. I continue to be amazed at new places I find all the time that probably have never had a camera pointed at them. I'll be seeking out more and more as I work on the new picture book. There are many pictures in my newest picture book that just came out last month of some such places that I've found this past year or two. I also want to continue documenting scenic icons in the state as well - I've never yet taken the perfect picture of anything, and so I will keep trying!
In these days of long hours and busy schedules I have lost the art of napping. My typical schedule is up at 3-4am and work until long into the night, back up at 3-4am again. Used to be I could take a power nap and be back up to full steam in just a few minutes, but it always seems I'm in the wrong place for napping when the urge hits! One of my favorite spots is to wander out into the forest and lay down next to a big oak tree in warm sunshine. Since I won't be able to this week I want to encourage each of you to do this for me - even if yours is just a tiny dogwood or whatever, you can always pretend it is a giant old oak in the middle of the wilderness - close your eyes and let yourself float out into the forest for a while - your day will be much nicer, or your money back!
FYI, while in town the other day I did an interview with Kyle Kellams for broadcast this week on his Ozarks At Large radio program on KUAF (you can listen online). Kyle has started to give away copies of our 2012 Arkansas scenic calendar on this daily noontime show - it is a great way to spend your lunch hour, and you can learn a great deal about the Ozarks, and maybe win a free calendar too!
11/15/11 I had a "Cloudland Moment" yesterday, even though I was hundreds of miles away and standing in the middle of a swamp! I arrived in the area the day before, after a six-hour drive, and spent the night to a beautiful moonlit-lake in the middle of the White River National Wildlife Refuge (known for its great cypress swamps). I got up early and wandered around looking for a god place to shoot sunrise, but high winds prevented any great reflections. I drove and hiked, drove and hiked, drove and hiked. The area is a popular deer hunting location, and there seemed to be many more hunters than I'd ever seen - so I had to be careful to keep out of their way, which limited some of my locations. Three different times I gave up and left the management area and headed back home (this was the only day I could shoot). But something kept tugging on me, and so one last time I decided to return and just work harder to see if I could find something before the long drive back home.
I did find a neat set of cypress knees with some color behind them and blue sky above and managed to get a series of pictures that I was happy with. Twelve hours of driving and one good picture was not a good average, but it was better than I had the day before!
On my way back out to the highway I spotted some interesting light going on nearby, and so stopped by the road and went running out into the forest with my camera gear. It was a level, open area that had recently dried up (like a lot of the swamps - due to unusually low water levels this year), and was covered with cypress knees, from just a few inches up to a couple feet tall - a fairyland of knees! The light was changing rapidly and I hurried to set up my camera gear and started shooting. After each long exposure I looked up and found the light was completely different, so I made another exposure, and another, and another, and another. Clouds passing in front of the sun moved the light around, and thicker clouds completely cut off the light while thinner ones only softened the light. It was mesmerizing just standing there watching it all, but a little frustrating as a photographer that is always looking for the perfect light - I could not tell which one was perfect!
I was paying particular attention to the controls on my camera and didn't really notice that the scene was actually changing in a different way too - it looked different after every shot for some reason. Then it HIT me - LEAF FALL was happening right at that moment!!! I looked up and there were cypress leaves falling all around me, each traveling a different and varied path as they floated gently to the ground, landing silently. It was then I realized this was the moment I was meant to experience, and why I kept returning to the swamp - I'd never experienced leaf fall in a swamp before - YIPPIE COYOTE! There were so many leaves falling that they covered up my camera bag completely, and piled up on the forest floor at least two inches deep. They were so soft that even walking through them trying to go "swish, swish" I could not make a sound.
While there was no way I could capture the look or feeling of that special moment, I'm hopeful the resulting photo of the cypress floor will be an interesting one for the new book - I just love the look of all those knees poking up through the new cypress leaves.
We are headed to CONWAY today for our slide program at the Faulkner County Library. The show starts at 7pm but we'll be there set up by 6:30 with all of our publications at special sale prices - bring your Christmas list and I'll be happy to personalize everything for you! We'll also have a selection of Black Mat Prints at the special price.
And you'll have to please excuse me, but we'll be dining at one of our favorite restaurants in the state before hand - Back Yard Burgers. Since I'm highly allergic to yeast I don't get to eat burgers or bread of any sort these days, but their burgers are so good that I fall off the wagon once in a great while partake.
Also today will be a taped interview on OZARKS AT LARGE at noon. And Kyle might even give away one of our 2012 Arkansas calendars. Good luck!
Today begins our marathon program run with five shows in seven towns. Wednesday and Friday I'll be here working in the print room to get ready for our next open house at the gallery on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Right now it is close to sunrise here and the dark skies are beginning to light up with a mix of moonlight and predawn light - it looks just lovely out there - a sort of eerie bright BLUE, but since I love blue, I think I'll wander out in my robe and soak up a few moonbeams on my way over to the print room. Hope you have a GRAND DAY today, and a great week as well - and we hope to see ya at a slide program this week!
*LOST NOTEBOOK FOUND AT ALUM COVE: a reader found a notebook at Alum Cove recently that he thinks belongs to a photographer - if this is yours contact me and I'll get you in touch with the guy.
11/19/11 The wind has been howling all night once again - the kind that shakes the cabin and sends outdoor furniture flying. And even though the temp has been pretty mild all night - in the upper 40s and lower 50s - our heat pump has had to run constantly just to keep the cabin toasty - that wind really removes a lot of heat. I've seen a bowl of water freeze completely outside when the temp was in the upper 30s as a result of wind. It had been completely still and quiet outside the past day or two until this new blast hit. Seems like it has been either full blast or nothing for a while.
The girls came home late last night - Amber is here for the weekend and will be with us today helping at the slide program in Rogers - seems like she ages years every time we see her now - she was always rather mature for her age, and college seems to be agreeing with her all the way around! She'll probably be ready to own her own company before too long if that keeps up!
There will be plenty of room/seats at the program today - 2pm at the Rogers Public Library. I always feel bad when the seats are not filled, so if you live in the area or know of anyone who does and might be interested, send them on over to the free slide program.
Late last night I went over to the gallery to do some printing and realized there was no moonlight. It was quite dark and took me a minute or two of feeling my way before my eyes could see anything - I need to eat more carrots, which I love anyway! The wind was already howling, the black sky above filled with a zillion stars, but the stars did not provide too much light. I eventually could see a faint glow on the sides of some trees ahead, reflecting from a light inside the cabin. I was able to make my way towards the gallery by remembering the shapes of the trees along the path, then saw a pair of very faint lighter objects ahead, which I figured were two big pots of yellow mums on the gallery porch (you can't see colors in the dark like that, only shades of gray). I made it all the way to the door without smashing into any trees!
We had a wonderful program in N. Little Rock Thursday night at Windsong Church - I love that name, and always recall the TV commercial and jingle for that perfume - "your Windsong stays on my mind..." My lovely bride doesn't need perfume, but if I ever bought her some that would probably be the brand simply because of their commercial - someone did a great job with that.
Anyway, it was SO GREAT to see all your smiling faces at the church - I believe that was the largest group of Journal readers ever at a slide program. So many new folks and especially old friends there. Good grief Greg, I've spent hours and hours going over all those photo trips we had - what great times! It's about time we made more. And I want to say a special Happy Birthday to ZANE!
As we got close to home near midnight we had a lengthy Cloudland Moment happen - in fact it went on for about 15 minutes. The half-moon was just rising, and I do believe it was the most colorful moon I've EVER seen - oh my goodness! I don't know if it was red or orange or yellow, but it was deep, rich, and intense color, and my lovely bride was there as a witness! Half moons are not normally this colorful. The fun part was that as we drove the moon would disappear behind this hill or that one, only to reappear - another moonrise - around the next corner! We saw a dozen or more moonrises - each one happening while we looked through a naked forest of silhouetted trees. I proposed to Pam at the precise moment of a moonrise through the trees, and so each time I see a moonrise I think of that - one of the very best moments of my entire life that I get to relive over and over again.
So today will begin three programs in a row - Rogers today, Fayetteville tomorrow (2pm at the library), and Ft.
Smith on Monday (7pm at Grace Church). All are free and open to the public with plenty of seating - AND we'll have all our publications available at the special SALE price! So come early and bring your Christmas list and I'll be happy to personalize everything! (although let us know in advance if you have a really big list so we can bring extras) One note about the show in Fayetteville - all of our crew but me will be at granny's house for their Thanksgiving feast in Jasper and so won't be at the show - I'll have Carolyn Crook at the sales table and she is really good at helping customers (her and her husband own the Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville).
The break of dawn is happening and I just realized that I need to tweak something in the slide show, then reinstall it onto both program computers (one for backup) - so I better post this and get out of my robe and over to the gallery work room - hope I won't be blown away - you should see the trees swaying back and forth right now! I hope you have a grand weekend, and especially hope we see you at one of the programs this weekend or Monday!
11/19/11 LATE NIGHT UPDATE. We had a monumental event at our slide show in Rogers today - and I didn't even know it had happened until the lights came on. I've put together dozens of slide programs - mixing photographs and great music - beginning with my very first one way back in the 1970s when I worked for the forest service at Blanchard Caverns. For the first time ever, an artist whose music I used in the slide program attend the show - and oh my goodness what a thrill it was for me! The two piano solos in my newest program were created by Dr. Joel Sebag - his inspirational music more than matches the feel and spirit of the nature images on the big screen. They are brand new - so new in fact that he was still working on them when he sent me copies to be included in my show. His new CDs were just delivered to him this morning, and he arrived at Rogers with a couple cases of them which he kindly autographed for folks. It was such a great honor to have him there, and a wonderful pleasure to be able to share his music with all who attend my slide programs. THANKS JOEL! www.joelsebag.com
We will now have copies of that newest CD available at our slide programs for $12. "The Serenity Of The Ozarks ~ A Compilation Of Favorite Gospel Hymns" by Joel. YIPPIE, YIPPIE COYOTE!
Oh, and my lovely bride and daughter just told me that Joel might also be at the Fayetteville show on Sunday - holy cow!
We will also make Joel's new CD available in our online store in the next day or two for those who can't make it to the programs, or have already been to one and enjoyed his terrific music.
11/22/11 Thick fog blankets the wilderness this morning - London type fog that I think will hang around a while. We drove through lots of it late last night coming home from our slide show in Ft. Smith. I LOVE fog, but it is not always a lot of fun to drive through - we had an easy drive home though, with a steady rain and not too much traffic. We survived our 5-programs-in-7-days marathon and won't have another show until next Tuesday the 28th at the Saline County Library in Benton. Our next open house at the gallery will be this coming Saturday here from 10am-4pm. I hope to update the online canvas prints gallery later today so you can see exactly what is available - and in fact you will be able to reserve any of the prints at the special sale prices too. I'm headed into town early this morning to do some catch-up chores so it will be tonight before I get that chore done.
Speaking of Ft. Smith, you can find our new books and calendar at Bedfords Camera and also now at HASTINGS bookstore - YIPPIE! I'm afraid I've neglected this store for a while and they were out of nearly all our books until last night. I'm making a return trip there today to fill their shelves with all of our books so you can once again stop by Hastings to browse all our titles (we don't stock any other bookstores in town, just Hastings). Speaking of Hastings, we also stocked the Hastings store in Conway when we were in town last week, and the Russellville, Fayetteville, and Mountain Home stores usually stock all of our titles. If you ever find our books out of stock at any store, PLEASE ask a books manager about them (they may have some hidden in the back), and then also contact us.
WATERFALL SEASON IS HERE! With all the rains we've had the creeks and waterfalls should be up and running well today and probably for a little while to come as well. With the new edition of the waterfalls guidebook available there are more than 200 great waterfalls to visit - plus many more along the way to discover! For those anxious ones out hunting today be sure to be extremely careful around flooded waters - it is always a good rule to never set foot into water that you can't see the bottom or, and also to be aware of how fast the current may be - have a great time but BE CAREFUL!
I'm off to town in a few minutes but will make another post here when the online canvas prints gallery has been updated...
Oops, I almost forgot - it was wonderful to see everyone in both Fayetteville and Ft. Smith at our last two slide shows! The program last night in Ft. Smith was especially fun because all during the slide show there was a major thunderstorm passing overhead, and at times the Man upstairs was trying to compete with the beautiful music in the slide show with loud BOOMS that shook the building - I think he won, of course! Joel's piano solos had a great deal of basssssss......
11/23/11 The forest may be dormant now but the wilderness has sure come back to LIFE! I wandered out today into the golden light of evening and spent the next hour or so just roaming around - on a genuine ramble, with no particular place to go nor route taken. It was just beautiful in the woods, and it was so easy and felt great to float effortlessly along, being kissed with bright sunshine all the way. The forest floor was moist and soft, with almost silent footsteps. The air was crisp and still and clear and clean and not unlike the very first air ever invented - it was pure. There was a freshness and beauty to it all, I leaned in and kept moving forward, except when I stopped and leaned up against a big old oak or hickory just to take is all in.
But while the woods made no sound, there was plenty of music in the landscape - from the hushed roar of tumbling creeks far below - the music of the wilderness springing back to life - YIPPIE!
There was almost no color, other than grays and browns and the blue sky above. And then I thought I had seen a bright yellow butterfly - but they are all gone now. One of the dogs had brushed up against a dead limb and made something on the limb shake and flutter - it was what I call jello lichen, and it was wiggling like crazy - and it was BRIGHT and pure YELLOW! Love to see this stuff, but it squishes in your hands and makes you say YUK!
A while later on I had topped out on a wide patch of level forest that seemed to go on and on in all directions - the more I walked into the middle of it the more it went on and on. And then when it started to break over the hill, I stopped and looked around - I could not figure out where the heck I was! Surely I had been to this place before - I was not THAT far away from home. But no, this spot of forest was totally new to me, and I was beginning to wander how I got to it (if I knew that, I would know exactly where I was!). Those golden rays of sunshine were lighting up a far ridgetop, but I could not see much detail through the thick forest so I could not pinpoint what I was looking at. It just felt odd - what the heck? And then I kept going.
And all of a sudden, I started to laugh out loud - our driveway was no more than 50 feet away! I had driven right past this elevated flattop hundreds and hundreds of times - but I had never set foot on it and so really did not know what it looked like until today. Amazing that something so wonderful could be so close - I will make sure to visit again soon and often. Seems like that happens a lot in our daily lives - something wonderful is right there just beyond our sight or reach, and while we could easily get to it, we are unaware, until we stumble onto it one day. Perhaps this might even be the person sitting right next to you!
While on my way back towards the cabin I passed by the spot where the big old persimmon tree once stood - 'tis that time of year when Amber and I used to hike up and collect some seeds, carefully splitting them open to see what the winter would be like. And then I was hit with a major dose of sadness - joy that I got to spend so many good times with her, yet sad we would never again get to experience that simple joy together. (not only did the tree die last year, but Amber moved away to college) Not to be discouraged too much, I decided to go find another persimmon tree and start a new tradition - or at least have some seeds ready when she did come home. So I hiked and I hiked and I hiked, but I could not find a persimmon tree anywhere! And I don't believe I've seen one with fruit on it all fall. That all made matters worse and I was missing Amber more. I really need the wilderness to cheer me up when things like this happen, and so I hiked on.
And then as luck would have it, just as our log cabin came into view, so did a vehicle coming down the lane - yup, it was AMBER - YIPPIE COYOTE! Perhaps we'll find a persimmon tree after all and see how much snow is on the way...
I have posted many of our new canvas prints in the online gallery here (new prints for this year - the same prints as we had two weeks ago though). All of these prints (plus many more) will be on display at our open house here this Saturday, the 26th, from 10am-4pm. This one won't be nearly as crowded as the first open house a couple of weeks ago, and you'll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the big prints. ALL PRINTS WILL BE ON SALE FOR AT LEAST HALF PRICE - several prints will be even cheaper - as low as $50! Plus we'll have all our books and calendars on sale at program prices too. And don't worry if it rains - the roof doesn't leak! NOTE - you can reserve any of these canvas prints now and pick up at the open house or at some other time - we can also ship all but the largest prints (extra cost for shipping at these cheap prices).
I have just posted another print in our special limited-edition poster-sized print series - of the Glory Hole Waterfall completely frozen. This is a terrific deal, and there will only be 20 of them printed. Note - we only have two of the Hawksbill Crag prints left, and just a few of the Twin Falls prints left.
Speaking of pictures, here is one I took off the back deck at twilight this evening - the sun had gone to bed and the stars were just waking up - I LOVE this time of year!
Here's wishing you and yours a splendid turkey day, and we hope to see ya on Saturday at the open house!
11/29/11 I headed out the door and flung myself out into the woods just as the sun was disappearing into the distant trees these evening. First time I'd been out roaming free in the wilds in what seemed like an eternity. The air was crisp and clean, the last rays of sunshine were bright, and the temp was cool and rather refreshing. I only had a few minutes before needing to get back to work and I wanted to soak up as much of the forest as I could. I didn't really even need to go far - they sky above me started to turn color before the cabin was even out of sight - puffballs began to turn shades of pink and orange and red, against a background of beautiful blues. The sun was getting lost in the woods but those clouds were catching the glowing rays and oh my it was just wonderful! But then, of course, a beautiful scene with great light before me meant my few moments of freedom were over - I was forced to run back into the cabin and gather up my camera gear and get back to work - taking pictures of course!
I wondered how many time I had stood there near our cabin gazing up in awe at similar scenes over the years - no doubt the same sky was viewed by countless others in many places, but it is here in the wilderness where I planted myself, and somehow the great beauty of it all reveals itself more and more than ever before.
Oops, I guess I was out in the "wilds" not long ago after all - at 4am this morning. I woke up next to the Arkansas river where we had stopped for the night to catch a few winks after our program in Benton last night. I took a brisk walk in the frigid morning air to help me wake up before the long drive home. The wind was blowing pretty good, but it made almost no sound. It was odd to be walking along in the darkness across a mowed lawn instead of stumbling through a thick forest (we had camped at a campground that was well maintained). I saw sunrise through the rear-view mirror, but also saw some great stuff ahead - FROST FLOWERS! Even though the temp was just below freezing, there were lots of the little frozen jewels all along the roadside once we topped out on the Ozark Plateau. It normally takes a temp down in the low 20s for frost flowers to form, and these were smaller and not as ornate as usual, but they were the first frost flowers of the season and so duly noted. With lots of work to do back home and no camera at my side all I could do was wave.
We had a terrific crowd in Benton last night - as is always the case at the Saline County Library. But I never get enough time to talk after the show. One of these years I'm just going to show up and do nothing but talk - which would be no surprise to some! When I answer questions I am transported back to the moment and get to enjoy it all over again - perhaps that is one reason why there aren't too many short and simple answers!
We just added a new date to the slide show calendar - in Little Rock at the Central Arkansas Nature Center, Sunday December 11th at 2pm. We've never done a show there before and it will be great to visit the facility. We added a show in Clarksville on December 16th at the county school district fine arts center also - another first for us. Sorry to take up so much time with all this slide show stuff - but hey, that is who we are and what we are doing right now - I hope you will be able to join us for a program this year!
OK, one more plug - we'll have our largest show of the season - and also the one with the very best sound system - this coming Friday in Harrison at the historical Lyric Theater on the square. And then the next day we'll be at the library in Bentonville right after the Christmas parade.
I continue to see many posts and photos online by folks who have picked up a copy of the new Arkansas Waterfall Guidebook and are out exploring the new additions. 'Tis GREAT to see some water pouring off the bluffs once again! I think this is a sign of things to come, and am hoping for a grand waterfall season all winter and spring. I have seen it written down somewhere that the more time you spend being splashed by a waterfall the better your life will be. I tend to agree.
Another thing you can do to bring on luck is to let moonlight shine upon you. As I'm typing this I can see the crescent moon dipping low in the west - I think I'll put on my ragged old down coat and go out and wander around for the third time today - the air is still and I think it will be delightful!
11/30/11 Just a quick observation this morning. It was total darkness when I got up and out before 5am. The stars were about as bright as I'd seen them in a long while - I should have been somewhere taking pictures! When I first stepped outside the very first thing I saw was the Big Dipper - those stars are brighter than surrounding ones and stand out easily - I have no idea why that is - it could actually be that the stars are all the same brightness but we are trained mentally to recognize and put them together to form the dipper.
A while later I started to notice the very first break along the eastern horizon and I noted the time. The sky started to glow more and more and more until finally the entire eastern sky was ablaze with beautiful color, with a forest of naked trees silhouetted in the foreground. And then the color began to fade. I appeared to me that from the time the faint glow first appeared on the horizon until there was no color left there, it was more than AN HOUR! And the sun had not even appeared yet. Many times this hour before the sun rises is much more colorful than after the sun arrives - you just have to figure out how to photograph it. Today I was busy working at the computer and not available to take pictures, but it was fun watching the colors glow and grow and change. The very same things happens in reverse after sunset, but it does not always seem to be so dramatic to me - perhaps that is because in the morning it is changing from complete darkness and so the colors seem more intense, while in the evening our visual senses have been blasted all day with color and brightness. I love and appreciate both times of the day - the magic hour - with or without a camera in hand!