Monday, May 21, 2012
We keep a camera at the ready, so here are a few shots we have taken in recent days.
On the river beneath us we have had geese nesting. They are quite vocal during nesting time. Just above them in a large sycamore tree on the long island that separates the river from the slough, we have had nesting blue herons that spring.
The eagles are another matter. They are around here, as we see them flying out over the bluff. But their old nest is gone and we cannot discover the new one. This breeding pair of eagles has been here for more than 25 years. They have built three nests, all within view of each other on the banks of rock eddy. As the nest grows ever larger, if finally breaks out of the tree and they must begin construction of a new nest. We simply can't discover their forth nest, but it is not far.
The rains appear to be over for a while, the river is down to normal levels and recent nights have been gentle with owls calling.
Friday, March 23, 2012
She booked online and the word "Privy" in our website blew right by her. Hey, it is a well-used work in her native language.
"You mean outhouse," she says. Well, it is an outhouse, but so is a chicken house, a smoke house, a garage, etc. Specifically it is a privy, a crapper, a necessary room in the yard. It serves a specific function. It is a privy.
Can you help us describe our privies more plainly, so there will be no confusion? We dislike the word "outhouse" for the reasons stated above. Perhaps we should write, "You will have complete and private access to our secluded two-holer." "Necessary functions will occur at an appropriate distance from the lodging facilities."
Well as you can see, it is difficult. Good luck, and thanks for trying.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
The valley below is spread with snow, the darker river snaking a course through the land with the white skeletons of the sycamore trees lining the edges where snow meets water. It is a treat. So we move more wood into the stove and feel especially comforted this morning as the flame spreads heat into our bluffhouse home.
We have no guests today. Were there a way to predict the date of snowfall, I am certain we would be besieged with requests for our cabins. But, not so, those folks are busying themselves in offices, cubicles, store counters and other employments. I truly wish they were able to participate in this luxury. I'll admit to my own gratitude for this.
Here is a snatch of poetry that my mother -- long gone -- would quote on mornings suchs at this.
"The snow began in the gloaming,
And busily through the night,
Heaping field and highway
With silence deep and white."
The wind swirls fluffiness around the corners of the house. The birds attack the feast we have prepared for them: Suet, niger seed, sunflower seeds (oh, and we must'nt forget water). We've even laid out some ear corn in hopes the squirrels will stay clear the the feathered creatures flitting about.
I am certain that Aunt Phoebe is enjoying the snowfall at her cabin overlooking the valley. And at spare Line Camp Cabin buried in the trees, remnants of past occupants who have loved this place are murmuring contentment.
We will hope for more such snows this winter. But, until then, this one will satisfy for a time.
Westward, across the valley we can see another snow shower rolling toward us. We will let this one pass, then be off to track the critters in the snow on a brief foray into the woods. We'll collect an armful of wood from the pile on our return.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Here is an example from our recent trip to the far north: It was in Seward, Alaska. She sat alone in the coffee shop, studying a laptop computer intently. He was slightly disheveled, wearing pieces of bike riding togs. I gently inquired, "have you come here by bicycle?"
She regarded me quizzically, studying my face and uncertain of how to respond. Finally she answered, each word coming slowing, as if she were leafing through her mental dictionary. It was then that we began a halting conversation which left me scratching my head and wondering again about the human spirit.
Her name was Micky and she was Italian. She spoke very little English, but, she was somewhat fluent in Spanish, so we proceeded as best we could.
"Where did you begin?"
"Patagonia," was her astonishing reply.
"How long has it been?" I asked
"A year and a month," she replied.
Enter now another woman who had recently discovered her on an Alaskan byway and invited her to stay in her home. She had discovered Micky on a camping trip one morning, seeing her struggle out of the trees and onto the road. They connected, and Micky stayed with her some few weeks, taking a job washing dishes in a local restaurant to save money for a ticket back to Italy.
"Este Viaje, escribe?" I asked Micki, wanting to know if she would write about her experiences.
"No, pero esta en mi corazon, she replied. (It lives in my heart.)
Between the two women we pieced together the story. She made the complete trip alone. She bicycled from the tip of South America to the northern most road-linked point in Alaska, Prudo Bay. She did it for someone she loved and who is now gone. She did it in memory of them.
She was a remarkable woman, unpretentious, forthright, yet proud of what she had done. She and people like her are why I feel energized after traveling.
From her email after arriving home in Italy: "......thank you all if I spent an unforgettable year thank you for all the emotions that I experienced, and fortunately very beautiful thank you thank you heart micky"
Sunday, June 26, 2011
"I arrive at here with my husband today. When me go under sedan. Look around all around. Very surprised very beautiful. That feeling. It is a besides lifetime peach garden. In a fairy tale to say. Melt at one body with nature. At last enthusiasm. I and husband appreciated woman host very much receive." Wei Wei
Her husband, an American, told us that she has been in the USA only 30 days. But, he says, "By tomorrow evening Rock Eddy Will be known in the whole southern part of China.
Our guests keep us interested in the world. Thanks Steve and Wei Wei!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The problem, of course, is that in some years the cool "winter" weather dips below freezing and spells doom for many of the blackberry blooms. Then too, if the blooms make it through the Blackberry Winter, the weather can turn dry and the berry crop will suffer from lack of moisture. Big blackberry crops are quite dependent on the vagaries of weather.
The other major problem is human: folks cleaning up their pastures will "bushog" everything down, including the patches of blackberries.
Here at the Bluff, conditions are good so far. We have a great start with lots of blooms. If the temps stay in the upper thirties at night, we will have passed that hurdle. The neighbor has not mowed his pasture this spring and there are huge patches of berry canes. The weather could cooperate as the canes mature into mid summer. That would mean a huge crop of berries.
Should conditions converge for a good crop, the only remaining detriments to great berry pies and cobblers are ticks and chiggers. They love blackberry patches. You can scratch while you are eating.
If you go berry picking spray yourself well. But if, while speaking to a friend, they comment about how cold it is tonight, just tell them, "It is supposed to be cold; its blackberry winter!"
Saturday, April 23, 2011
It is still wild up there. Oh, there is a little more evidence of human activities - an occasional hiker, a lone person lugging a camera. But, the place still retains its essential character. It is a special setting. Looking westward from our lofty perch atop the bluff, your gaze follows the course of Clifty Creek up the hollow until it divides at the location of the natural bridge. Often we watch storms moving toward us down the length of Clifty hollow, anticipating the minutes remaining until the deluge breaks over us at the Bluffhouse.
Two things have happened which may keep Clifty Creek wild for years to come. First, the L-A-D Foundation (that is Leo A. Drey) acquired a section of the hollow that includes the natural bridge (often called the Natural Arch). Later the Department of Conservation acquired an adjacent piece of land. Together, these public use properties total 486 acres.
Guests at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm often enjoy hiking the 2.5 mile hiking loop that will bring them to Natural Bridge. They can also choose to go and come via the same trail portion. The shorter section (one mile) perhaps covers more diverse terrain and lends itself to some ad lib hiking as you can drop down into the creek bed and follow it downstream to the natural bridge. The longer section (1.4 miles) maintains the ridge top for much of its length and traverses interesting Ozark woodlands before dropping into the hollow and crossing the creek well upstream of the natural bridge.(click on the map to enlarge)
Clifty hollow has been a constant feature in our lives here in the hills, so we can direct you to the clear pools, the big curving line of bluffs where ferns cling to the rocks. And, if you are interested, we can put you on to where you will find the cave where Old Red once lived.
The Ol' Hired Man at Rock Eddy
p.s. Thank you guests for these photographs
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Contrasts in Luxury
I am logging in from Chicago, where I am comfortably ensconced in the Sofitel on E. Chestnut. I recommend it highly. It is a stark contrast to last weekend in the amenities offered but not in the luxury it offers the mind and body. Last weekend, we spent several nights in the Line Camp cabin on Rock Eddy Farm. Not only does it not have room service, a flat screen television, and turn down service, it does not have running water, electricity, or centralized heat. There is an outhouse, a hand pump outside for water, and a wood stove for heat, though. So where is the contrasting luxury you may wonder.
Let us compare.
First, the Sofitel is some 32 floors tall and made of much glass and steel.
Line Camp cabin, by contrast, is one floor and one room only. Though to be fair, our room in the Sofitel is one room only, too, but with an additional bathroom.
In the foreground, just to the left of the window is a wooden box with an upside down bucket “suspended” over it. The bucket covers the hand-pump, which is the water source. And off to the left, half out of the photograph is the outhouse.
The views are not comparable from the two, either.
The Hancock Tower in morning light from our room:
Late evening snow from the front porch of Line Camp cabin:
And a short walk from the porch is the Gasconnade River. After the previous evening’s snow it made for a nice bit of quiet solitude:
And what of the amenities they each offer? A very wonderful shower with limitless hot water in the Sofitel and a bucket bath in Line Camp. Hmm. Again, each has much to offer. The first is a great refuge from the mind cluttering assault of city and people (especially when you are locked into a conference). But the latter is wonderful in its own right, to be cleaned of the grime from basic living and then to wrap yourself in fresh clean clothes is a great pleasure in itself. They are both rejuvenating. No need for graphic evidence.
The food prospects are an interesting contrast, too.
Breakfast in the Sofitel: fresh papaya and coffee:
Breakfast in Line Camp: home fries and coffee (there were eggs, too, just not at this moment):
I can’t decide. Maybe a closer comparison?
They are both excellent, like each of the accommodations. They offer their own forms of comfort, which are very nice so long as you are in a state of mind that is ready to appreciate the strengths of each: urban splender and business in the former and calm, uncluttered quiet in the latter.