This really IS the view from my front porch. Sweet, huh?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Daddy Said...

Our time on earth will come to an end but many of the things we say will live on in the heart and mind of others for years to come.  My Dad had many sayings that I will never forget:
-“You are sharp as a tack and just as flat-headed.”
-“When you get right, it’ll get right.”
-“There but for the grace of God, go I.”
But one of the wisest things my Dad ever said to Ricky was to” find a fun hobby and then go do it.”  Ricky, like my Dad in many ways, always has to be working at something.  While this is a great trait in a man it can wear you out before your time.  We enjoy doing fun things but it is just not in our nature to choose fun over work that needs to be done.  Ricky’s workday starts at 6:30 (He drives a school bus, teaches all day and then drives the bus in the afternoons.) and ends around 4:30.  Then he usually finds something to do around the house until dark.  In the summers his ecology work takes him out on long workdays until the job is done.  In between this work, his honey-do list usually has him working on some project around the house.
Well, all work and no play makes Ricky a dull boy so it is my job to find something fun for us to do, right?  I have recently taken an interest in photography and one of the best things about landscape/nature photography is that it gets us out and away from the work at home.  Ricky is great about loading up and taking me to see the beauty of the Ozarks or somewhere else equally as amazing.  I’m sure there are other places on earth just as beautiful as Arkansas but we definitely live in photography heaven right here. 
Recently I decided that I would like to visit a spot known as the most photographed spot in Arkansas, Whitaker’s Point (Hawksbill Crag).  To get the best shots we needed to be there early in the morning so I asked Ricky if he wanted to go camping that weekend.  Now remember that my style of camping in the past has been in a heated/air-conditioned travel trailer with a microwave, refrigerator, comfortable beds, running water, a toilet and a shower. We sold our camper some time ago so at this point in the conversation Ricky is assuming that I booked a cabin.  Much to his surprise I was really meaning camping… without a tent.
We ended up at the campgrounds in downtown Ponca.  Our Friday night date night did not include Lowe's for the first time in months.  We cooked supper over an open fire, had smores (without the graham crackers - I packed a little too light), and JiffyPop popcorn. (We now know why the packaging says to NOT use over open fire.)  Instead of a tent we slept (I use that word lightly) under a shade canopy in the two–man hammock next to a tent occupied by two men who had obviously consumed too much beer and too many beans that day.  The chorus of snores and (insert imagination here) went on all night.  We were joined by the biggest dog I’ve ever seen and a large white cat curled up at our feet in the hammock before the night was over.  We laughed all night long over things about our adventure that were much funnier as an experience than as stories later repeated to others. 
I’m not sure if it was the 38 degree weather and heavy dew or being flipped out of the hammock and leg cramps that had us both awake at 4:00 am but we decided to pack up and head to the trail much earlier than originally planned.  This meant using flashlights for the first 45 minutes of our 1.5 mile hike to reach our destination which is one of the most breath-taking views in Arkansas.

Along the way we found evidence that a bear had been there before us.  To quote Ricky, “Lucky for us, it’s not steaming."

The prime picture taking moments were short lived and then it was time to head back and see what we missed while hiking in the dark. 

 But our journey back was a pack of three instead of two.  While taking in the sunrise we were joined by Jim.  Some would be disappointed to have such a private moment interrupted by a total stranger but Jim packed two cameras and shared my desire for just the right shot.  After visiting a few short minutes we learned that Ricky and Jim have a common bond – teaching.  We have teased Ricky for some time about his ability to talk to anyone – anywhere, and this just proves it.  In territory labeled as “Wilderness Area” Ricky made a new friend and they held animated conversation for hours.  Little did Jim know when he woke up that morning that he would later be introduced to the common name and Latin name of most all trees and plants in that area.  I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, the teacher or the student.

  Later, after Facebook stalking Jim, I learned that there is much Jim could teach us regarding animals as his past titles include University Veterinarian and Director of Veterinary Services at Duke University and University Veterinarian and Director of the Animal Care Unit at the University of Kansas.  Our little time together left us all wishing for more time to get to know each other better.  Hopefully our paths will cross again someday.
There are moments in life that you look back on with a smile and this was definitely one of those.  I wasn’t able to get that perfect picture to hang on display in my art gallery (one small wall in my office) but the picture in my mind will last forever … or at least until dementia takes over.
LIFE LESSON:  (You thought I forgot didn’t you…)  Take time to make memories with those who are special to you.  You never know when, but a day will come when the memories are all you have left of them.
 Steele Creek, near Ponca

 Steele Creek, near Ponca