Saturday morning I mailed some letters off early. Then I hit the road to Camden, Arkansas. The weather was warm. The sky was overcast. During my drive, I listened to a new holiday album called "Terse Greetings". I had been invited to contribute a song to this in November, and the album issued Saturday.
My song is a simple instrumental called "Tiny Reindeer Dance":
I created this with a software synthesizer in about four hours using sampled sounds from a water flute and a metal bar.
I enjoyed listening to the album as I drove past open fields in which hawks stood on isolated trees. I also passed farms with mini-donkeys on sale. I passed an aluminum church whose roof said "The Gates of Hell shall not Prevail". After I crossed into Arkansas, a sign for Southern Arkansas University (a school I attended one Summer in 1977) featured a woman with a cowboy hat on, and a slogan explaining she was the national goat-tying champion.
I stopped in Gurdon, where I lived from ages 4 to 15. I went to Gurdon Park, a little lake park that has been there in one form or another since I was a kid. It is much nicer than it was in my childhood. I walked there, where I saw a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, a Dark-Eyed Junco, and a train caboose on a track.
I drove on to Camden, where I finished high school. I stopped at a Chinese buffet for lunch that makes a good chicken and broccoli. Then I drove to the Ouachita River. On my way to lunch, I stopped by the Camden Post Office to mail as letter to Australia. The postal clerk asked me for my ID. When she saw my name, she told me my late father was a nice man. I had wondered if the distant letter address would draw a comment, but it did not. I originally though that in my childhood,, things might have been different, but then I realized that even before the world in some ways was so small it was in some ways pretty small.
Camden is a southern town that dates back to the late 18th or early 19th Century, depending on how one classifies the early French settlement there. Its claim to fame was as a stop on the Ouachita River, whose riverboats brought interesting people from up the Mississippi to Camden. It has less positive associations, as well, including being a loading port for participants on the way to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears, and a city supporting the Confederate side occupied briefly during the American Civil War by Union forces.
When I pulled up at the river, several young men were sitting on a stairwell leading down to the river. We greeted each other sociably. One young man, age about 12, looked as if he had a huge burn on his face. He asked me if I was a photographer. I told him that I liked to photograph birds. Then he asked me if it was okay if they were playing in the mud. Then I realized that his face was not burn, but covered in red clay mud.
It turned out the boys, and an older teen woman, were concerned that a man had pulled up while they were playing in the abundant mud by the river and snapped their picture. I suspect it was about nothing, but they were worried that someone would say playing in mud was wrong. I told them I did not live there,but I believed it was a public park and I could not see the problem with playing in the mud in a public park.
I walked on the not-long sidewalk riverwalk, avoiding the mud. I saw Eastern Bluebirds and Yellow-Rumped Warblers. A sign said "Watch for the Alligator". Alligators have been re-introduced to Arkansas in recent years. But the alligator
does not "show" in December.
I spent a part of my afternoon on some family business. This was why I went to Arkansas. This went relatively well.I also had a call with my sister. She was quite helpful.
I drove back towards Texas. I stopped at Logoly State Park near McNeil in south Arkansas. I walked to the Magnesium Springs there, where people bathed for their
health in the 19th Century. I walked there for half an hour. I resumed my drive. I made a quick stop at a city park in Texarkana. Then I headed across the state line into Texas.
The rain caught up with me outside Mount Pleasant. So I stopped at a Church's fried chicken meal there. Then drove through the rain until it stopped near Greenville. During the last hour the rain had stopped. I got home at 9 p.m.
The rain returned all night Saturday and until Noon Sunday. Sunday morning I went to Weight Watchers. I lost six tenths of a pound in my first week under its "smart points" On my way to Weight Watchers, I walked on the Chisholm Trail, a sidewalk by Rowlett Creek. The creek was rushing like a river in the Pacific Northwest in the Springtime. I went to church at First UMC, where during "The Way" alternative service a six member family did an offering hymn with the father playing guitar and the son playing string bass very Von Trappishly. At one point, the minister asked if anyone had skipped to the end of a mystery novel to see who "dun it". The congregation was as shocked as if he had sinned.
I had two slices of CiCi's pizza, carrots and pickles for lunch. I rested all afternoon except for taking Beatrice for a pleasant half hour walk.
Tonight we dined on roast beef on bolilos.