Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Spring, early summer report

This spring and early summer to date, my yard has hosted all sorts of bird life. I serve my bird friends sunflower seeds year-round, since my home in western Fayetteville seems to be getting a bit more crowded by development. My bird friends have increasingly lost habitat the past decade since I moved here. Mockingbirds, cardinals, robins, grackles, mourning doves, and wrens have all nested in my yard so far this season. For the first time since I've lived here, I have seen 2 turtle doves, distinctive by their larger size than mourning doves and lighter coloration along with a black stripe across the nape of the neck. It's been nice to see those beautiful creatures visit my yard. The only tragic occurrence this season was the unfortunate hawk attack on the first mockingbird nest in the seedling juniper. One mockingbird chick was taken away to become hawk dinner. The hawk thanked me by shitting a huge mess all over my patio door.

The mockingbirds moved their nest to the larger juniper from which the seedling arose. I spotted two mockingbird juveniles in the yard, so some life survived the nesting. Juvenile cardinals and robins spent time in the yard. A robin mother and her brood of four robin chicks each took a turn charging the aggressive mockingbird after it attacked them at the bird bath as they foraged and watered before darkness. Was a sight to see four robin chicks challenging a mockingbird just like they saw their mother. The rain has wreaked havoc on some varieties of tomatoes I've planted this spring, but my patio varieties seem to be thriving. This much rainfall has not been seen in NW Arkansas since about 6 years ago, a season I remember for all the miles of kayaking I enjoyed so late in the season for 3-5 years consecutively before the 6 year drought in June/July. On my last trip, Frog Bayou and the ample surfing opportunities afforded along the 12 mile stretch I once frequented was rolling quite nicely that day. I endured a severe sunburn on my face and the pigshit farmers in the region dump on their fields attracted gnat-like insects for much of the trip, but the water was perfect. Crawford County has one nice jewel in Frog Bayou, particularly during the winter when it seems to hold water rather well and is a pleasant January paddle trip.

Arkansas is one of the great places in America to enjoy the outdoors, whether outside your back door in the city, or floating Hailstone/Extreme upper Buffalo in the middle of the Buffalo River wilderness near Fallsville (where the Rainbow are gathering this past week) to Boxley on one of the most gorgeous stretches of river in this great state. I miss my free time I once enjoyed that allowed me the time to plan and actually go on kayaking trips. These days I spend more time running and riding my bike for outdoor leisure and additional exercise. Arkansans who opt not to enjoy the natural outdoor opportunities are missing out on the most important aspects of being an Arkansan. I grew up in a traditional Arkansas family where hunting and fishing was a favorite diversion. I knew few kids when I was growing up who didn't enjoy the Arkansas outdoors in some way. I glad I've been fortunate enough to survive long enough to truly experience the outdoor life of the Ozarks. The land and the woods are the stage for our lives and few of us slow down to ponder how important the outdoors has been to the life of our species over the years.

In my hometown, Clovis(arrived circa 12,500 years BP) sites of some of the earliest inhabitants in Arkansas have been surveyed and unearthed. Nearby were unearthed remains of Confederate war dead in a foolish frontal attack on many well-placed batteries and a Yankee gunboat. Some of my relatives live very close to these sites. I have walked these sites of the various batteries built by Federal engineers and laboring soldiers. Our state is alive with the past and folks who are born to this state or who have relocated to this state should make themselves aware of the significance of many areas of the state. Unfortunately, NW Arkansas seems not to care much about the rest of the state and that is a pity. We have a rich history and traditions which should be observed by citizens from all corners of Arkansas. We are a small, relatively poor state with need of cohesion and single-minded devotion to improving our home.

Ancient Arkansas was teeming with wildlife and chert sources for indigenous peoples and frog-hunting the St. Francis River, or Big Creek I was surrounded by ancient hunting villages and burned char pits where fires were kept millennia ago. You can close your eyes and briefly connect to those hunter-gatherers who survived by the slimmest of margins. We're not much different these days it seems.


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