Sunday, July 12, 2009

Upcoming Ozark Vacation . . . Minus Me

Roaring River
Barry County, Missouri
(Image from Wikipedia)

One of the last nuclear-family memories that I retain is of Roaring River State Park in the Missouri Ozarks. I suppose that I remember this camping site because it was the final activity that my mother and father undertook with us boys as a family . . . back around the summer of 1966.

I recall spending a lot of time alone on this trip . . . and finding lots of fossils. Those stony remnants of past life seemed ubiquitous, a reminder that rocks had once been living. I also recall, as respite the summer heat, the cool air about Roaring River Spring, a spot with a lazy waterfall dripping 90 feet down into the large spring-fed pool where people tossed their random change. I waded in, briefly, wanting to gather coins -- but quickly splashed back out due to the bone-chilling, numbingly-cold water.

But that's not my point today. Rather, I want to note that in a little over a week, my wife and kids will leave me temporarily on my own as they head for hotter and more humid climes in the Arkansas Ozarks. I'll be 4 weeks alone as they explore the Ozark farms, countryside, and natural beauty that I grew up with but will be bitterly missing.

I had hoped that my kids might experience what I did, as I mentioned to my Uncle Cran:

[I]n another couple of weeks, you'll be dealing with Sun-Ae, Sa-Rah, and En-Uk.

Ah, summer, the season of kinfolks' annual return to the Ozarks . . . but don't let them just have fun on the farm. A little hay hauling never hurt anybody. I want the kids to experience what I experienced growing up. They'll then appreciate their soft lives better.
I was referring to the hard work of gathering hay bales in Arkansas's humid heat and tossing them onto a flatbed truck, which I had assumed that Uncle Cran would soon be doing, for he had previously reported:

We are nearing four weeks with no measurable rainfall. Our garden is about finished, except for some tomatoes. Everything has dried up. Even the wild blackberries aren't going to make enough for a cobbler. Only the pasture is still green, but is starting to shrivel.
Is that good or bad for hauling hay? Uncle Cran doesn't say . . . but he remarks on other points:

I am reminded of a song that the young couple, Almanzo and Laura (Ingalls) Wilder were singing on their six week, 600 mile trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in the summer of 1884. They had been married 8 years before, and had their 7 year old daughter Rose with them. At the time of their marriage, Almanzo had a 400 acre homestead, a new home he had just built, and a team of horses. For the next five years they had gone through drought, hailstorms, and lost crops every year, and losing their land. Then Almanzo and Laura both contracted diptheria and nearly died. Almanzo was crippled and barely able to work for years. For two years they lived with relatives, a brief move to Florida, back to Minnesota, then back to De Smet, South Dakota. Hearing of the town of Mansfield, called The Land of The Big Red Apple, they packed their few belongings into a covered buggy, and made the trip. Their daughter wrote about this years later. This is the song:

Oh Dakota land, sweet Dakota land!
As on thy burning soil I stand
And look away across the plains,
I wonder why it never rains!
Till Gabriel blows his trumpet sound
And says the rain has gone around.
We don't live here we only stay,
'Cause we're too poor to get away!
After these mournful words that brought tears to my eyes . . . almost . . . Uncle Cran establishes his scholarly credentials by providing bibliographical details:

A LITTLE HOUSE SAMPLER, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, (ed, William Anderson). New York: Harper-Collins, Publisher.
When's the copyright year on that 'sampler', Uncle Cran? Or are you saving the information for a rainy day?

But there are 30% chances today through Sunday, so I still have hopes that we will get rain soon.
Good luck on that. Meanwhile, in the spirit of activities to which I hope my kinfolk will subject my kids, Uncle Cran reports:

I just finished building some decks and hanging a door for some people.
Uncle Cran is a hanging judge . . . and 'a carpenter -- he builds houses, stores, and banks, chain-smokes Camel cigarettes, and hammers nails in planks, he's level on the level, shaves even every door, and voted for Eisenhower cause Lincoln won the war' . . . but he does other jobs, too:

Today I ran the brush hog over some of our pasture. Next week I hope to go over two more fields, then cut a little more hay.
There's more from Uncle Cran, but it only concerns kinfolk. A "brush hog," by the way, is a mower attached to the back of a tractor, usually, that cuts to near-ground level the weeds and grass that spring up along the roadside (and elsewhere) . . . as long as the upkeep is kept up.

I was hoping for some agricultural torment for my children, but brush hogs don't provide it, and my cousin Mark Hodges, meanwhile, tells me:

My Dad has gone Mechanized with a round bailer and the days of the square bale [are buried] in the sands of time!! Thank the Lord!!! His hay hauling is a one man operation now with the magic of a deisel tractor (with sun shade/cup holder) and hydraulics!!
I replied:

I would have considered that [round-bale solution] to be good news about 35 years ago, but since I'm now seeking some means of tormenting my [own] children, then I'm sorry to hear of this.
Uncle Cran will have to find some other way to make my kids suffer. Pehaps some bulldogging.

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At 6:30 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Kids going south for the summer:)

I really miss blackberries. They are around 4 dollars a half pint. Can't bring myself to pay 16 dollars to make a cobbler.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I used to pick them. In fact, I believe that one of my Ozark friends is currently making blackberry jam -- that was her plan, anyway.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure that I can find something for your children to occupy their time. They can help Dona and I in the garden and work in the yard if you wish. BTW, Dona is busy making blackberry jam and is canning peaches and green beans. I guess this makes us somewhat an oddity in these times. Will send you some jam it the airline allows it to be on the plane.


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Tim. My kids will be happy to help. Well, I'll be happy for them to. They might wilt in the sun. They've never experienced real heat and humidity combined, so they're in for a genuine experience.

Sun-Ae's looking forward to the jam.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a pond that has bass and perch in it.
Maybe En Uk and Sa Rah would enjoy catching some.

Also, Uncle Woodrow has a big pond full of catfish, and they are a lot bigger than the fish in our pond.

Who knows, they might like to swim in Norfork lake.

With all the relatives, I'll bet they will stay busy.

And we still have the WII game, that they enjoyed.


At 2:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I think that all of those sound good.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:15 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Here's some "idees" for torment and sweat:
In addition to the pond fishing offered by Uncle Cran, perhaps they'd also enjoy an overnight camping trip "on" the lake. I still break out in a cold sweat trying to figure how Uncle Cran accomplished that some 60 years ago.
And although the old time square bales ain't in the fields no more, bet Cran would appreciate some free child labor in weeding and watering his dried out garden, pushing his reel mower across the lawn at midday, "de-limbing" his forest floors, "de-cowpattying" and "de-rocking" his vast pastures, and restretching all that downed "bobbed-wire" fencing. That'll guarantee some torment, sweat and lots of bicep muscle production on the youngsters.
Enjoy the trip, kids.

At 3:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to thank nephew Jeffery, PhD. for his noting that my email gave proper credit for the song, and did not try to revise it from Dakota land to Ozark land. There was no attempt to steal it for personal credit.

As for not giving the publishing date (1987, reissued 1995), nor the page number (69), note that this was not a thesis requiring full documentation, thus no need for such critique by my esteemed professor.

Anyone who needs such detail can purchase and read this Little House Sampler for him or her self.

But I certainly appreciate any and all suggestions to help me in my writings...regardless of whether such are necessary.

As for other once favorite nephew Bill, please remember that there are child labor laws in this wonderful country of ours.
Rather than consigning my dear other once favorite nephew's wonderful family to such drudgery, perhaps Bill would volunteer his services. He seems to have some spare time right now.


At 4:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$4 a HALF a pint? Where? That's twice what local farmers' market charge in Virginia.

At 5:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cousin Bill, I'm not sure that I should let the kids read about the 'activities' that you suggest, but I think that they all sound great.

I'll inform Sun-Ae.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran inexplicably bragged:

"As for not giving the publishing date (1987, reissued 1995), nor the page number (69), note that this was not a thesis requiring full documentation, thus no need for such critique by my esteemed professor."

Keep in mind, Uncle Cran, that this blog is a scholarly one! All sources must be properly cited.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, I'd still prefer to pick them wild in the Ozarks.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being now sufficiently chastened, I will try to be more careful in documentation.

On another note, our prayers were answered yesterday afternoon and last night, as we received just over 2" of rainfall, with 1.5" last night, and the drought is temporarily over.

This reminds me of another folk saying, repeated every summer:

It never rains at night in July.
But when it does, it comes a good'un...(anonymous).

Sorry that I can't give credit to whoever started such a tale, nor when.

It is based on the knowledge that normal summer rainfall is mostly in the afternoon.

It seems to me that the correct thought should be: "Almost never
(or "seldom"), rains in July".

But I am no authority on such subjects. Nor any other theme.


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"It never rains at night in July, but when it does, it comes a good'un."

Hmmm . . . that sounds like the exemption that proves the fool.

Weird folk wisdom. I agree with your scholarly correction, Uncle Cran.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Hathor said...


That is a regular supermarket price in Philadelphia.(Checked again today) They are probably more at Whole Foods.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

No farmers' market in Philadelphia, I suppose?

Ever since cobbler was mentioned, I've been craving some! Steaming hot, with a scoop of homemade ice cream, too.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

I work when the Farmers Markets are open and none are close to where I work.

Did your cobbler have layers of short rolled pie dough?

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, years and even decades have passed since I had my grandma's good cobbler.

However, I think that it has strips and clumps of some sort of dough . . . and it was far more appetizing than this sounds. I recall that it was very hot and runny -- and usually peach cobbler, but sometimes blackberry.

Maybe one of my brothers will see this and provide better details. I left in 1975 . . . and that's a long time ago.

Now, I'm also wondering where the word "cobbler" came from . . . maybe from "to cobble together"?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

I'm working up a day in Izard for Sa Rah, En Uk, and Sun Ae, Jeff!

A trek to a large shelter-cave to start, finishing with an afternoon at Piney Creek, perhaps?

We'll save the trip to the waterfalls 'til you can make it back over here with them!

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, that sounds good. Do you still have John's phone number? If not, it's easy to obtain by calling his church.

Jeffery Hodges

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