When the rental canoe capsized this weekend in White Oak Lake in Arkansas, I wondered if the throwaway camera stowed in my pocket would take workable pictures. I determined that there was really only one way to find out--to take pictures anyway.
They came out framed in a pleasing wet haze, just as the trip itself proved to be. The picture above is from Logoly State Park, near McNeil, in rural southwestern Arkansas.
This park is a thickly wooded, in pine forest. It's not a crowded place at all, but instead an environmental education center in the deep bottomland woods, where wild things roam and slither.
We fished its three acre pond, with only modest success, while the tame geese honked out warnings. At one point, I took a walk around the "crane" trail. The sun peaked in through deep pine trees.
The place had a friendly feeling to it. The only other visitors had balloons and gifts for a four year old's birthday party. The woodland was broken up by trumpet-like flowers and a butterfly or two.
Although we were a bit soggy, it was easy to forget that only moments before, we had been scurrying out of White Oak Lake, after poor judgment on my part scuttled our canoe in shallow water.
Today we got up early and drove back to Texas. Although on the way down, we had seen a golden eagle flying and a fox wandering in the dark, our return trip was all about glorious wildflowers. Vivid fields of yellow, with cows standing among the blooms. Hillsides of orange Indian paintbrush sprawling. We ate lunch at a Pitt Grill in Mount Pleasant. Pitt Grills are cool--they're like Waffle Houses, only just half as elegant. I enjoyed my griddled ribeye, only 5.99.
I decided to finish my weekend with a hike at our local horse and hike Trinity Trail. I took my little 4 x 30 Bushnell binoculars on this trip, and, despite 70 degree weather, almost had the park to myself. I saw three grown cottontail rabbits. I followed one with my binoculars as she sat under a cedar tree. She would raise up, sniffing, to see if I had spotted her. Her eyes were so large she could have been a velveteen rabbit with button eyes, but she was real. Trinity Trail follows Lake Lavon, a large lake not twenty minutes from my home. Near the trail, a few thousand seagulls congregated atop the water, making a long white crescent. I watched a few fly with my binoculars. On a large branch of a small tree, a scissortail flycatcher stayed perched. Summer brings many of these birds to our area, insect hunters with nine inch tails who catch bugs in mid-air as their tail feathers open out like scissors. It was wonderful to focus on its light blue/white upper breast, and its brown/golden lower breast.
I saw myriads of butterflies! Monarchs, lollygagging along; panicked sulphurs, both clouded and unclouded; the first giant swallowtails I've seen this Spring, black and gold wing sections alternating; a common buckeye upon which I trained my binoculars to watch its large 'buckeye' wing spot; a painted lady, all oranges and blacks. I love watching butterflies because it is so much easier to identify the main species than with more arcane bird watching. I can find almost everything I see in our Ortho's All About Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies guide book. Two horse riders and their shepherd dog stopped to talk for a moment. They had marveled that they had worked today, and almost missed the renewal of a horse ride in Spring.
Trinity Trail, with its stubby trees and pasture-like setting by a lake, differs so much from the south Arkansas woodlands near my folks' home in Camden. Sadly, none of my azalea photos came out. But I had a weekend filled with nature, and the gorgeous scenery made for an Easter epiphany.