Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Autumn in Arkansas

When you live near the Texas coast as I do, you miss the glorious colors of Autumn. Usually, our seasons go from scorching hot summer to somewhat chilly winter. In the days between, the trees lose their leaves in a "green-one-minute, brown-the-next, whump-they're-gone" defoliation.

Imagine, then, how beautiful Arkansas looked to me a few weeks ago.

We drove to Eureka Springs in one day, about a 12-hour journey. but we took our time and enjoyed all the Ozarks have to offer in the Fall. These are shots from our drive up the (I kid you not!) Pig Trail Scenic Byway, a section of Arkansas Highway 23 from the south boundary of the Ozark National Forest to the intersection with Arkansas 16.

This road meanders around, up and down, just as a pig might wander. But the scenery is beautiful, especially this time of year.

I especially love this waterfall. Somehow it reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, or maybe it simply suggests his house, "Falling Water," in Pennsylvania.

The scenery after we turned off the "Pig Trail" was just as spectacular. I'm glad I wasn't driving. I couldn't take my eyes off of Mother Nature's glory, but Neely gladly pulled over at each new vista, so I could take photos.

Eureka Springs was also dressed in Autumn's finery. Look for an opportunity to visit, if you haven't been there. The town still has its old-fashioned character, and the shops are housed in quaint buildings. Just outside of town is the Razorback Gift Shop -- Yep, these folks love their college football team! Several years ago I bought slag glass there to decorate my garden. This time, I "needed" just a bit more, and Neely and I spent happy minutes selecting just the right pieces.

Then I just had to climb the old fire tower -- Yikes, all the way to the top! That speck in the tree's shade is Neely, taking a photo of me as I scale the heights!

But the effort was worth the sore muscles afterward. Just look at this view:

We also visited Thorncrown Chapel, a few more miles down the road from Eureka Springs. I love this sacred place.

The Chapel's glass walls make me feel that there's nothing between me and God's majesty.

The trees were raining brilliant leaves onto the glass roof. Such peace and serenity.

Finally we left Arkansas behind, on our way to visit our daughter and son-in-law in Chicago. Just one last look at the beautiful Ozarks:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. God's Bountiful Blessings to you. While you're giving thanks, please remember all those who have served and are now serving to protect our beautiful country. Their sacrifices have given us our freedom. Remember their families for they sacrifice much, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back to Work -- And Missing Slipper Moon!

I'm filling in temporarily for a former co-worker who's on maternity leave. So just for a little while, it's out of retirement and back to work for me.

I almost said, "It's back to real life for me," but that's not true.

Retirement is such a gift. Real life for me now is made of gentle moments:

having lunch with Neely on our front porch, listening to the garden fountain gurgle and the wind whisper through the pine trees. If we're lucky, the local deer join us, browsing on grass in my neighbor's field across the road.

creating jewelry, or quilts, or knitted things, or just day-dreaming in my quiet little second-floor studio, where I can watch my dogs playing in the yard below.

cooking and trying new recipes, planning our meals and shunning take-out. I'm no Paula Deen, but I love putting good, nourishing food on our table instead of packaged convenience stuff containing who-knows-what!

caring for our home, seeing the gleam of freshly waxed furniture and smelling the scents of a well-loved house. I don't even mind polishing pine floors (well, not much, anyway). Clean corners and tucked-in edges are enormously gratifying to me now.

photographing my tiny miracles to share -- like this wren's nest in one of my hanging plants. Is that egotistical? Probably. Why would anyone else care about my day? But I so love life and the world's beauty that I want to share it with anyone who happens on my blog.

Ah well -- back to that alternate universe for a few months. After all, it's a blessing in its own right, to be given an opportunity to earn money, especially in our shaky economy. God has smiled on me (may I remember that when deadlines start to loom!). And at the end of my temporary employment, I'll return to REAL life with renewed appreciation for its daily blessings. Slipper Moon will be here waiting for me, peaceful as ever.