Things have been rather busy around The Havens lately. As I mentioned in passing on my Skywatch post, I was forced to go floating on Tuesday. It was a positively fabulous day in all respects. The river was perfect, as was the weather.
We followed a blue heron down the river. He knew we were there, so I never really was able to get a great shot of him — he had a tendency to sit over a pool and as soon as we came around a corner he would take off down river. But we did manage to sort of sneak up on him here.
That image would be a whole lot better if I had a 600 horsepower telephoto lense on my point and shoot. . . But I did catch a small dragonfly that came by and sat for a while on the toe of my wet suit bootie.
I managed to get home from the river in time to do two massages that evening. Then I had a few well-boooked days of massage. You know that you have been busy when you use up your entire store of sheets and have to grab a set out of the “to be folded” pile in order to complete the work week even though you have been putting things away on a regular basis. I have twelve whole sets of sheets, so you can imagine that in the space of just a few days I did a lot of rubs.
Then on Saturday I was off to Cape Girardeau to attend the senior composition recital of a young lady to whom I gave piano lessons when she was a young, tender and naive 14. She’s really quite talented, that girl. I find her music interesting and amusing. Her new husband is a talented graphic designer and caroonist, and I think they should collaborate on an animated film.
Jim made the supreme sacrifice and drove the truck to work so that I could make that trip. Yes, another solo road trip for Ms. Healingmagichands. This time I made a stop at Elephant Rocks State Park and then came home along the back roads of Mark Twain National Forest. That website is really a lie — due to the large number of visitors they discourage you from playing amidst the rocks. The ecosystem is rather fragile. There are many mosses and lichens on the red granite rocks, and they would suffer from too many foot prints.
The area was discovered in the middle 1800s and of course the people who discovered it did not think “Beautiful scene, needs to be saved.” Rather, their thoughts were on the line of “Great granite, where can we sell it?” and proceeded to quarry this stone and hawk it all over the country. Many buildings in St. Louis and Jefferson City were ornamented with this rock. There was so much train traffic back and forth the quarry even had an engine house where the locomotives were maintained. It is a ruin now.
Someone still lives here, though.
Along the path around the quarry I came across some other local natives.
Do you suppose he is eyeing me so suspiciously because of his experiences when he lost that tail?
The Park service has provided a wonderful Braille Trail, with all the interpretive signs geared towards bringing your attention to the textures of things. It was fully paved and graded properly for wheel chairs. At the Engine House Ruins, I noticed a trail that wound off into the woods behind the old quarry — unpaved and rather wild. So of course, I followed that path.
When I arrived at the quarry, it was a scene so peaceful I spent quite a while just sitting and taking it all in. Because I was so quiet, I was visited by an inhabitant of the pool.
I have to say the combination of water and rock there is miraculous.
That last one would make an awesome jigsaw puzzle.
I sat at the edge of the water taking in the serenity and the view, thinking how the place must have been when the drills were running, the dust flying, the men pounding the wedges into the drill holes to split the rock, the teams of horses and mules, the thrumming of steam engines. I found myself looking at the shadow of a wild flower etched into the rock I was perched on.
This made me think about Plato and his cave. My philosophizing was interrupted by people who arrived at the top of the quarry cliff face via the paved “hiking” trail. No one was observant enough to notice me, and the acoustics of the quarry were wonderful. Too bad the conversation consisted of inanities and gossip. I was astonished by how completely unmoved by what they were seeing the people were. Why did they come?
No one was talking on a telephone though, since cell phone service in the area is non-existent. Once I left the Park, I had to drive a good twenty miles before I could notify Jim that I was on the road home and he could expect me in a couple of hours. He knows me though, so when the two hours inevitably stretched to closer to three, he wasn’t worried.
See, driving the back roads, there are plenty of things to distract you and make you pull your car over. Yesterday, it was the liatris blooming along the roadside.
There were black eyed Susans too, much to the delight of the pollinators. This is some sort of mason bee, a little less than a centimeter long.
I spent quite a while trying to figure out why the Highway Department thinks it is better to mow this stuff off. Most of the road sides in Missouri get mowed several times a summer. This costs us a lot in man power, equipment and fuel. Seems a complete waste to me.
So, one of the things that took me so long was chasing the sulfur butterflies that were enjoying the stand of liatris. Again, I would have had a lot better chance of getting a very cool shot if I had a telephoto lens. As it was, I managed to meet quite a few chiggers in person.
The most magical moment happened when I was focused on a skipper butterfly that was having its breakfast. I was stopped by the side of the road. All “proper people” were in church still, so the road was quiet. I could hear the bumble bees moving about the area. Suddenly, one joined the skipper at the branch of flowers I was focused on. Click!
Just as I was catching that shot, I heard a low thrumming buzz right next to my left ear. A hummingbird had just flown up, and had paused to inspect me. I froze. If I turned my eyes I could see her clearly. She was within six inches of my head.
“What the sam hill are you doing here? I live here, I was just on my way to breakfast and I find interlopers?!” she seemed to be saying. I knew that there was NO WAY I was going to be able to turn the camera on her and get a shot. I held my breath; but even so she didn’t trust me. After a couple of seconds of mutual staring, she flitted forward to another branch of liatris, turned to look at me suspiciously, and then buzzed off to find a less crowded breakfast buffet.
So I decided I’d better buzz off too. After all, there were delights awaiting me at home, too.