Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter's beauty

Heidi is Moving a Bit Slow Today

Fragile Reminders of Spring

Two Hungry Birds Waiting To Feed

Beautiful Lace On An Old Cedar Forest

South Road

Friday, January 29, 2010

Heidi and Me, our Journey Continues

A very shy Miss Heidi

A quite time for Heidi, before the snow came

With the first onslaught of winter this season, I worried some that Heidi might not be warm enough, but the concern I had was unnecessary. Heidi has taken to winter in fine spirits and great enthusiasm. The cabin I built for her and the deep warm bed inside in a very comfortable retreat for her especially at night. During the day for the most part she uses a deep straw bed on a little porch of a building adjacent to her cabin. I gave her an old padded shirt coat, (not to play with, but to wear in the evening when inside her home) and just before I go out to visit her I heat the coat before the fire. After her bed is straightened out a bit, she and I sit, while she is wearing the coat and we have a peanut butter sandwich. I do believe this is her favorite time of the day. Afterwards I groom her a bit and soon she begins yawning and lies down and I know it is time for me to leave. Heidi has begun playing with me, chasing me around the yard. She readily greets me in the morning upon entering her cabin by lifting a paw for me to shake. She still insists that I do not wear my glasses when inside her home. I really don’t know why. Heidi is still very shy or afraid of other people, but trusts me enough to remain calm when we encounter someone. She is a nervous dog when out away from the yard, but I believe she is slowly losing some of that. I am looking forward to spring and summer and believe by the next winter she will be a normal dog. Adios

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mother Nature?

The Beauty of Nature

A Time to Remember
Mother Nature? I Think Not
By Ronnie Powell
I have stood in awe and occasionally fearfully at times during my life watching a summer storm rise above the horizon, hearing thunder rumbling from within, observing lightening dancing from the earth to the massive formation. They are spectacular occurrences often destructive laying waste to everything that stands in their path. It is during theses times, whether it be in spring, summer, autumn or winter I am reminded that man’s importance on earth is of no more concern to nature than leaves tumbling in the wind.
Natural calamities are often proclaimed to be Mother Nature’s doing or God’s wrath. I strongly disagree. Nature’s forces are indeed very real, but are only mindless aspects of a never ending cycle of a minute aspect of the universe, put into motion by a force greater than we can imagine. Natural calamities indeed posses phenomenal powers that should not be faulted with God’s natural order of things or a Mother.
I cannot imagine nor comprehend God pointing at a bunch of poor souls to be destroyed. It was apparently said by two individuals of whom I will not name that Haiti was punished by God with a devastating earthquake. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes to name a few of the devastating forces of Earth are not weapons of God, but merely natural forces set in motion by our own plant’s conflict. Churches of every faith, without exception and their people have been destroyed, or maimed by storms of every variety. God fearing people of faith and understanding know without a doubt that nature is an Earth force, unmindful and unforgiving of its own.
Mother Nature, is of course a convenient or colorful way of addressing the weather, but to use the word Mother is an insult to that cherished spirit that is bestowed to mothers of every species of life.. It seems to me that journalist could and would use another term, instead of Mother, that precious giver of mortal life. With few exceptions, a mother will unhesitatingly give of her own life to protect her young. A Mother’s love cannot be measured for it is eternal. With few exceptions a Mother will provide safety, warmth and food for her offspring’s
Several years ago while working on a farm in Texas, another young man and I were checking a field of maze that would soon be ready for cultivation. A storm rose unexpectedly, or so it seemed to me, a huge wall of clouds bristling with lightening and wind. We left the pickup truck we had driven there and made for a cluster of out buildings to seek shelter. We did not make it and over the howling wind I was told to lie down as flat as I could. Sand and burs stung my face with such force it felt as if I was being skinned alive. I clung to whatever vegetation was at hand, feeling my body rise and fall against the ground. Tumble weeds ran wild in the wind. Muddy rain drenched us unmercifully and then it was over.
My coworker a native Texan, a tall lanky fellow stood up gazing about and said nonchalantly. “I reckon we’ll have to walk back.”
I too stood up, slapping my muddied Stetson across a leg. Most of the buildings were gone or lying in ruins. The pickup truck lay on its side, caked in mud.
When first employed with the Department of Conservation at the Bennett Spring trout hatchery I was assigned the morning shift from 12:00 to 8:00 a.m., and consisted of watching the hatchery complex, keeping the screens clean for the proper amount of water flow into the pools. Storms, floods and autumn leaves were the worst to contend with. Extreme conditions were rare, but kept me busy trying keep ahead of leaf buildup on the screens. Lightening was the immediate danger, for it was not uncommon to receive a direct hit in the pool areas during a storm.
One morning in the autumn of 1969, a particular menacing thunderstorm arrived with much lightening and torrential rain. Working as fast as I could from pool to pool, cleaning them and then retreating inside the hatchery building until forced outside again. Soon, however, the storm intensified to the point of no retreat and drenched to the skin, flinching with each flash of lightening I fought to keep the screens clean.
Hurrying along a pool directly below the hatchery building, lightening struck a transformer pole across the pool knocking me down. I quickly got to my feet resuming the frantic cleaning, but noticed numbness in my left arm.
The storm finally abated and I was able to take a break, but to my astonishment the left arm from the elbow down had swollen grotesquely. By the end of the shift the arm had increased in size and Mister Holland the manger occupied me to the emergency room in Lebanon, where a large amount of fluid was drawn from the elbow with no apparent permanent damage to the limb.
Tornadoes undoubtedly rank as the most destructive and treacherous of all landlocked storms. One can appear unexpectedly hidden in the smallest of a thunderstorm, its thread like tentacle dropping from an innocent looking cloud into bright sunlight.
In the summer of 1987, while helping two friends sat up an eighty by forty foot tent for Prairie days I sat drinking a cup of coffee surveying our progress. One of the fellows stood at the edge of the tent smoking a cigarette. A small cloud had appeared from the south casting blotches of shadows across Fifteen Mile Prairie.
The fellow standing at the edge of the tent causally remarked. “That’s a strange looking cloud dipping to the ground.”
I looked up astounded at what I saw; a tornado was on the ground, no more than a couple of hundred yards away. “Let’s get of here,” I shouted.
Two of us ran from the tent toward the old Eberhart Cabin that set in the historical park. The fellow smoking the cigarette did not and took cover under a stage sitting in the tent. Huge pieces of ice, (hail) fell around us followed by a loud roar and the tent swelled upward, large support timbers broke like toothpicks. The tent torn from its mooring was ripped apart, ascending high into the sky into ragged remnants. Only the stage stood appearing intact with broken poles littering the ground.
Only seconds had passed since the hit and my friend I crouched next to the cabin staring at the destruction. Most of the tent lay in a heap several yards away, pieces of it hung from a barbed wire fence. We found the other fellow under the stage, unharmed.
If nature is to be compared to a mother it should be in the beauty of rebirth in spring and abundance of growth prevalent in summer or a beautiful snow covered landscape. Adios
(An added note)
John and I rode the Niangua River together many times beneath a summer sky and sharing its meandering course past tall bluffs and deep blue eddies. Goodbye John.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Reailty of Life

As Peggy would have looked, from a Illustation in a 1944 edition of a book by
Miriam E. Mason, Susannah. It is one of my treasued books from Brushy Ridge School

One of the first concerns of my brand new life many years ago as a child was the apparent fear animals had of humans. But since I was born on a farm and times were very hard, I did not dwell on the subject too long at a time. The cattle, hogs, chickens and horses were an important part of the farm and used appropriately either for food, income or worked. The horses were worked extremely hard at times and when one could not do its share, it was sold to the dog food place as we called it. Life was hard to say the least.
I learned early in life, but like a lot of people did not always pay much attention to the senseless cruelty of animals, whether domesticated or wild. Chickens were used for food, as is the lowly field mouse to the Red Tail Hawk that is a fact of life. The food chain is long and unforgiving in all species of life and cannot nor should not be disrupted in most instances. This aspect of reality is not an issue with me. It is a natural occurrence from the minutest creature to the largest and a vital aspect of nature.
As a boy I quickly discovered the remarkable intelligence of animals, (those creatures we so arrogantly put below us) and realized that most of them I came in contact with had many of the same feeling as I have, fear, grief, contentment, happiness and most important affection. I must admit I was surprised. The more closely I got to particular animals; one was Jill, a female mongrel dog. She and I suffered greatly when her son Jackie and my dear friend lost his life under the wheels of an old pickup truck. I buried Jackie in the orchard under and an old apple tree and for days Jill laid there grieving. The ordeal took a dreadful toll on her and she passed away a few months later.
If given the opportunity most animals will respond to kindness, especially if they have no reason to fear you in the first place. A new born calf will quickly respond to kindness and become a faithful friend, relishing a human’s touch and gentle care. Most cattle will come when called if the their human master has never abused them, even though somewhere down the road they will be shipped to the slaughter house for food. Trust, respect and dignity goes a long way to ensure a good life for these creatures, grazing contentedly in their pastures, giving of their milk and new born calves. However it takes someone who does not mind that day when off they go to the market.
My first encounter with a particular cow came about one day when I was very young. Father bought her to provide milk for the family while he remained in Kansas City during World War Two. He name was Peggy, of Jersey heritage and was old for a cow, but gentle and trusting as she could be. She had given birth to a calf about two months before she came to live with us, but her offspring did not accompany her to our farm. She provided rich creamy milk to drink and cream for butter. She always stood quietly while being milked, munching on ground corn and oats and in the winter months given a generous helping of wet meadow hay.
One morning in the second spring of our arrival at the farm, Peggy was not at the barn and I was told to go find her and bring her in. I was hampered a bit by a badly bruised big toe and I grumbled about having to walk on it, but of course obeyed and went looking for the old cow. I found her a short distance from the house, grazing near a spring where sweet grass was growing. She looked up as if to say, “Oh my, I didn’t realize it was so late,” and she immediately started toward the barn.
I painfully caught with up her and gently scolded the cow and she stopped. We started out again with me limping along and then the idea occurred to me to ride her to the barn. Again she stopped and I climbed on her back and she looked around, shook her head and began walking calmly toward the barn. Upon arrival at the barn door I slid off quite pleased, only to confront Mother who loudly scolded me for riding the cow. That ended my riding Peggy and rightly so, for after all she was old. Unbeknownst to Mother I gave Peggy a generous helping of feed that morning.
Later that spring Father came home, for the war had ended and he made plans to buy more milk cattle. One evening when my twin brother and I returned home from school, I quickly discovered Peggy was nowhere to be found and I asked where she had gone and I was told she had been sold to the slaughter house, for she was no longer needed. The removal of Peggy from her home was my first reality experience as a boy. I was horrified to say the least. More to come. Adios

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Take Your Time

I take each friendship seriously, not to be carelessly laid aside or disrespected. Dave Lafferty, (Two Lanterns) is a friend of many years. We used to rendezvous together along the Niangua River and Osage Fork. Two Lanterns is a colorful fellow, raw around the edges, but has a heart as gentle as a spring breeze and feelings that most people never took the time to see. He loved a beautiful sunrise over a ridge and marveled at the river glittering in the new light of day. Then one day he slipped away and not one of his old friends knows where he went. Not long before I lost contact with Two Lanterns, he sent me a poem that he had written, a beautiful thing direct from his heart and soul. I present it here as he wrote it in hopes it will reach him.
Take Your Time
When the sun comes up and frost is on the ground,
You should take your time to simply look around.
For it's a beautiful world, full of sights and woundrous thrills.
Just open your eyes and drink your fill.
For lifes too short'-don't waste another day.
Just take your time don't let it slip away.
There's a world for you just waiting to be had,
So take your time- I know you will be glad.
- Dave Lafferty -
The end
Hey old friend, your message is in the wind so don't ignore a breeze that may tug at your sleeve. Adios. Butcher Redoak

Friday, January 22, 2010

Life Along the Dousinberry

Published Books 1 2 3

Front Cover Painting for

Life Along the Dousinberry

Ronnie Shannon in

Life Along the Dousinberry

I wandered off for a few days to put the final touch on my fourth book to be sent off to the printer next Wednesday. Perhaps, or so I have been told it is a story comparable to Penrod and Sam by Booth Tarkington. I cannot say, however, it is a story of two boys growing up in the country during the troubling years of the 1940’s. The book depicts much of the life of rural people during that era and of course the many adventures two lads of this category would get involved in. Their antics are often foolish, hilarious, and sad and down right dangerous. I suppose it could be comparable to my youth on the Dousinberry Creek.
I am anxious to see it in print and to begin to send it out to the many that have reserved it. It will be a signed, dated first edition. This book will be my last for awhile. I am working on other stories, but they are not any where near completion. Adios.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Answer to Comment

The motive behind the removel of the groundhogs was to prevent further damge to the crop. This was a reasonable concern for the landowner, but for me to wait in ambush and slay these beautiful animals was not my concern for the crop, but rather a sporting thing of which I decided was not the right thing to do. Adios

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hired Gun

Hired Gun
By Ronnie Powell
During my childhood of the 1940’s country folks still relied on hunting and fishing as an extra source of food. Deer was all but gone as well as turkey, which left rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, quail and if hungry enough an opossum now and again. Fish, frogs and crawdads were also in the food chain. All of the above were delicious, deep fried and served with cornbread or biscuits.
My father usually too busy to hunt or fish relied on my brothers and I to harvest the game and to fish, catch the frogs or crawdads. There were of course game and fish laws during those years, but most folks used common sense and paid little attention to the laws. One never hunted during birthing or shoaling time. This is not to say that game or fish laws were unimportant, it’s just we did not pay much attention to them unwilling I suppose to give up the old ways. The game warden, (as we called him) was an elusive fellow and hardly ever seen and did not make much of an impact until the early 1950’s after the restocking of Whitetail Deer. I can only remember seeing one of the officers during my upbringing, driving slowly along the road in a 1946 Chevy. I squatted down in a growth of buckeye brush and waited until he passed.
My two brothers were not hunters or did not relish cleaning the game and I proudly became the hunter of the family. A single shot twenty two caliber H. and R. Rifle was the only weapon we possessed. If the game was squirrels, Father issued me ten cartridges with instructions to head shoot only and bring back ten juvenile squirrels, of which ninety nine percent of the time I accomplished. Rabbits were quite plentiful for most of the country was cultivated in corn. I usually brought in at least fifteen rabbits with instructions to never shoot one sitting. Father after acquiring an old Mossberg twenty gage took up quail hunting and was very conservative bringing home no more than two each for the family.
During the spring hay harvest my brothers and I were told to run down young rabbits, take them alive and then were confined in a cage and fed a generous amount of corn until plump. Juvenile groundhogs were taken and deep fried, a delicious treat after a winter of salt cured pork.
Fishing in the Dousinberry Creek a tributary of the Niangua was a pleasant past time, especially enjoyed at night, sitting on the bank above a riffle where catfish came to feed. Father and a neighbor acquired a seine of approximately twenty feet in length and kept it hidden most of the time in the rafters of our grainy, but out it came in early autumn, patched and taken to the creek. There were four of us boys who stood watch for the game warden while the men seined. Anything over twelve inches was kept no matter what species of fish. A huge fish fry followed with pumpkin pie and watermelon cooled in a nearby spring.
Several years later, married with children of my own I sat on the crest of a hill above a field along the Niangua River enjoying a spring day. My reason for being there was at the request of a brother-in-law the owner of the river bottom field below me. Groundhogs were ruining the alfalfa field and I had agreed to eliminate as many them as I could with a scoped rifle.
In the distance I could hear the call of a mourning dove, answered by another not far away. Honeybees were busy in the clover bordering the field and further on near the center of the alfalfa field laid the bodies of several groundhogs slain with a single shot from the scoped rifle. I could see other groundhogs peering from their dens, too terrified to come out.
The question why, disrupted my thoughts and suddenly I felt ashamed of the carnage I had brought to the field. They were destroyed not for food, but for sport and I had selfishly taken their lives to boost my ego. I sat there for a time staring at the lifeless bodies. I decided then and there it was wrong to participate in such wanton destruction.
There have been those who made light of my decision not to shoot without good reason such as for food or to defend another in danger. I do not advocate nor support a ban on hunting. It is a necessary tool now that we have removed most of the predators. Most important to me at least, I questioned my motive and changed a mind set and Father would be right proud of me for that. I do love to shoot, but now in my later years it is clay pigeons and tin cans that fall before my sights reflecting my skill without killing something I am not going to use as food. Adios

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter's Tears

Winter's Tears

A Picture Perfect Winter Morning

Yeasterday morning a little after dawn it was seven below, but Heidie and I took our morning walk. It was stiff legged cold to say the least. The weather people said it would warm up and with that in mind I enjoyed the walk even more. The hills and old cedar forest near our house was beautiful. When we returned to the house I notice long ice hanging from the porch and decided they were winter's tears for soon it would have to leave for awhile. The birds, deer and turkeys will be grateful, not to mention humans, dogs and cats. The winter has been rough on everything, but as always things get better until the next round and then Spring. Adios

Thursday, January 7, 2010

As Time Goes By

A Little Mouse That Needed a Friend

A Crippled Red Tail Hawk Who Found a Home

An Old Friend of Long Ago
Indian Creek Smokey
We are in the tight grip of winter this morning, more snow and very, very cold. Adios

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Snowy Day

A Bit Cold Today

Hungry Birds are Welcome

Heidi's Day Bed

A Warm place For the Night

Beautiful Heidi

Who Goes There?

Bracing the snow

Heidi’s Winter
Winter in all its beauty has arrived for the New Year. It is a challenging time for all creatures that are exposed to the wind, lack of available food and to those who are weak. But on the other hand so are all seasons.
Heidi has bloomed into a beautiful and gentle dog. She is hardy and seems to enjoy the snowy days. She has become very affectionate in her own way, but still has moments when she remembers I guess the time when she was abused. A couple of nights ago when I was with her in her cabin and after I had prepared her bed for the night she placed both front legs on my shoulders and licked me on the face, but only after I removed my glasses. She loves to shake hands with me and lays very still as I rub her back and head. A little cup of chicken and bite size peanut butter sandwiches delights her just before I leave for the night. I shut the door and she safe and warm until morning, buried deep in her bed of old blankets, on top of an old sleeping bag and more old blankets and quilts. She is at last content and knows that we care for her a great deal. For the day she has a deep straw bed she uses on a little porch and can see everything going on around her. She loves to dig, but not as much as she did. I doubt if there are any moles left in the yard. Each morning and evening we walk together along a road. Heidi has come along way and I am so glad she is sharing life with me. Adios.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Cold Reflection

A Time to Remember
By Ronnie Powell
Once again it is time to reflect on an event that brought misery to the Ozarks. The title above should be explained. The title Hardcase is not mine but belonged to Luke Short a renowned western writer and title of one of his many books. Hardcase has little to do with this story, significant only in marking the arrival of a devastating event that began about midday January 12, 2007 lasting for nearly two weeks. A massive ice storm entered the Ozarks and surrounding areas resulting in downed electric lines, fractured poles and trees, blocking roads and highways. For many hours Nature’s emissary tread heavily across the land crushing or damaging everything in its path; its foot prints will remain for years to come. And so with the above in mind I begin.
Even as a veteran of two other similar events I shuddered at the sounds of the storm that first night as limbs and tree tops fell on the house, yard and area around the place. Freezing rain rattled against the house and the crash of falling timber persisted the entire night and when the dawn arrived I crept outside dodging falling limbs to see a landscape broken and tortured, bleak and cold. But that was not the end of it, for the following night the rain came again and the giant returned destroying even more and then it was over resulting in twelve days of trying to survive.
We, my wife and I settled down in our house that had withstood the storm, with blessed heat, kerosene light, water and a store of food. Buffalo, Lebanon and much of Springfield were badly crippled and many of the roads were blocked. It was at this juncture I brought out my treasured books of Luke Short and Max Brand and took comfort in those writings of the old West. Hardcase was the first. With the light of a lowly kerosene flame flickering above my shoulder I began reading, lured back into the past where the author endowed the main character with larger than life abilities, strength and courage. The passing time was irrelevant as I shadowed Dave Coyle riding in pursuit of outlaws and hooligans, yet mindful of how fragile our existence on this Earth can be.
My wife and I ventured out on the sixth day traveling to Buffalo and found Wal-Mart and Woods Grocery store open. Many people were in both establishments buying needed supplies. Their carts were soon filled to overflowing with batteries, flashlights, lamp oil and other essential items. The faces of the people around me reflected the severity of the calamity that had befallen the population.
We soon had what we needed and headed back along roads littered with tree debris, phone lines and electric lines laying beneath shattered limbs. Many poles leaned precariously across the highway as if to topple at any moment. The forest along the way sagged under the weight of the ice; fences were down and birds darted franticly about looking for food. Man, at least temporarily had been dealt a crippling blow and the reality that Nature’s wrath has the strength to cast us back into the dark ages at any time.
In the following days and nights, Bounty Guns, by Luke Short, Rustlers of Beacon Creek, by Max Brand and Silvertip, by Max Brand along with four others kept me occupied. Why, didn’t I read something more beneficial, one might ask? I wasn’t in the mood for serious stuff.
On the twelfth day in late afternoon, my true love said to me, “The power is on.” Adios

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Brand New Year

A Beautiful First Day of Jan., 2010, but very cold

This old buck made it through the hunting season. I slipped up on him near the western edge of our very small town. He was with a doe. I hope he has a good year and maybe I'll see him again next year. Have a great year everyone. Adios