Friday, June 25, 2010

An Angel In The doorway Or Maybe Not

A Time To remember
The Power Of The Written Word
I have in my lifetime witnessed some very strange occurences and discovered that some of these events were explainable or close to it. Within a fog rising from the opening of a very large cave early one morning revealed quite clearly to me or so it seemed human images and they faded as quickly as they had appeared. The ghost of a woman that had passed away appeared to me one night in my home. The specter frightened my dog and she lay down and whimpered. A friend of mine who lay dieing asked me if he would know when it was time. I told him an angel would be waiting at his door. Early the next morning as his wife entered his room he told her to step aside for there was an angel in the doorway. He passed away moments later One particular day several years ago while sitting in a small room in the rear of the building that housed the U. S. Post Office and trying to finish a chapter in a book I was writing. My wife, the Post Master of our town, occupied the front part of the building separated by one door. The spring day was bright with sunlight and very pleasantly warm. Nothing seemed amiss to suggest an unusual day and I sat at my desk quite content enjoying a cup of coffee, pecking away at the keyboard of my word processor, changing a sentence or two from time to time. I stood up to stretch my legs and think about how I would finish the chapter.
Later, with a steaming cup of coffee in hand I sat down again still uncertain how I would end the chapter. I could not decide whether to end the life of one of the characters or let him live and become a major aspect of the book. Pondering the question, evaluating the man who stood on the brink of death, I sat with fingers poised to either kill the man or let him live.
Unbeknownst to me, my wife at her station was suddenly confronted with a cold wind entering the outer doorway, so cold she shivered uncontrollably. She sat down unable to stand for a few moments.
The mail carrier came and found her sitting and asked if she was ill and she replied she didn’t know but was very cold.
During this time or shortly after, perhaps a moment or so I made a decision to let the man live and thought no more about it.
An hour past and during that time my wife was still not feeling much better and commented on the cold wind that had entered her work place, for as I have said it was a very pleasant day outside.
Sometime during that approximate hour and after my decision to let the man in my book live, a neighbor came to town and told the store keeper across the road from the post office he had come close to drowning in the Niangua River after falling from his mule. The fall had addled him, he said and he couldn’t get up and lay face down in the water. Struggling desperately he tried reaching for the bank, but couldn’t get a hand hold and just as he was about to give up he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into my face. He said I quickly pulled him upon the bank, but too weak to speak he said, he lay there for time before sitting up and looked around for me, but I was no where to be seen..
He finally managed to get astride the mule and by the time he reached his house was feeling much better and came to town to tell of his close encounter with death. He told the storekeeper he didn’t understand why I didn’t wait around, but wanted to thank me for saving him from drowning. The man left and returned home.
The storekeeper came to the Post Office and told my wife of the incident and asked if I had returned from the river. My wife told the storekeeper I had been in my studio all morning and the neighbor must be mistaken.
Some later I confronted the neighbor about his experience at the river and he without hesitation expressed gratitude for saving his life. He asked why I hadn’t stayed and had been a bit disappointed by my quick departure from the scene.
I told him he must have been mistaken and it was someone else who had pulled him from the river.
“No,” he replied emphatically, “it was you!”

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Hat and An Open Road

The above are some of my credentials and represent memorable events in my life and continue to do so. Adios

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take Notice Elizabeth

Short Stories, A Journey Across The Ozarks And Beyond

A Boy's Journey Through The Troubling Years Of The 1940's

This Morning Elizabeth I received your letter. The Book, Life Along The Dousinberry and South Through Barefoot Pass will be in the mail very soon. Both books will be signed and dated. I deeply appreciate your interest and I am quite certain you will enjoy the books. Thank you. Adios

Heidi And Me And The Secret Garden In Bloom

AS If To Say To Me, "This won't Happen Again."

The Sumac Tree Crowns The Wild Garden
The lilies Will Not Be Outdone

A Beautiful Jewel in the Garden

I found this old statue broken and put part of it back together and now it watches over the secret garden

Hollyhocks that originally came from England over a hundred years ago.

A quite, polite rain slipped across the crossroads this morning. Heidi waited in her house until it passed and then we went walking along a road bordered by wild flowers, nodding in the breeze. Heidi has changed so much in the last few weeks and I think she forgets at times the bad days of her past. She does not care for strangers and is a very private creature. This morning after returning from our walk she sat quitely while a photo of her and I was taken. The secret garden is in full bloom. Adios

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Old Man's Passage To White Mountain

A Woodcarving of Mine

A Time to Remember
The Journey
By Ronnie Powell
There is undoubtedly an abundance of stories hidden in the minds of all people, stories that too often are never revealed and too late when death occurs. They are aspects of life, often simple tales, yet compelling, exposing unique qualities that fall by the wayside like autumn leaves and swept away into oblivion. Knowledge of these tales I have learned can often be easily acquired by asking or showing interest in the individual’s life. They may not be promptly revealed or may follow a negative train of thoughts at first, nevertheless they are given up often in an unusual way.
I sat quietly on the floor next to Delmae, (fictitious name) an old man of Siouan stock; the face bore symbols of time, deeply creased, weather worn to the texture of old leather. Grey black hair shadowed the eyes that reflected the single flame rising and falling like an ancient warrior of old in a stone fireplace huddled against the wall. The old man sat with his head bent in prayer and I waited, sipping cold coffee from a tin cup.
Delmae and I were not close friends, but we talked and respected each other. He said to me moments after I arrived that evening the dark eyes boring into mine. “The white man’s defeat was Custer’s last stand, but the Indian paid a terrible price for the victory.”
This statement seemed to open the door to many haunting tales of his upbringing. He believed a savior would come to right the world and replenish the buffalo. Delmae openly mourned the destruction of the land, rivers and its animal inhabitants.
“A time will come when Mother Earth will grow weary of man’s cruelties and cleanses her-self of the rape. It will begin on the White Mountain.”
The following is but a small part of our time together during the evening.
The grey dusk lingering in the window of the small room faded as night crept close and as if on cue many flames rose up in the fireplace, dancing to a rhythm as old as time. The old man lifted from his lap a small cassette player and set it on the floor. The distant bellow of a diesel truck on the highway broke the silence in the room.
“Hey. Hey." Delmae said softly. “I am ready for the journey. I doubt if you will follow, but say nothing and listen.”
He bent over and pushed the on button and the machine emitted only wisps of sounds at first and then faint drum beats began, unyielding growing in intensity, demanding attention.
“Look,” Delmae said softly, pointing to the fire, “the sunset. I see a trace that leads to the mountains and the Great Plains, with grass as tall as the buffalo. See? “
I leaned forward captivated by the deep pulsating sound of the drum beat, tempted to join the hypnotic rhythm, but hesitated and was left behind. I listened to the voice, sensing urgency in it, but could not determine whether it held fear or reverent appreciation.
“I am standing at the edge of the plains and beyond lies nothing but desert that should not be there,” he said gazing intently into the fire. “There are huge pinnacles of stones scattered out across this waste land as far as I can see and I am turning back.”
Delmae said nothing more for a time, sitting quietly, swaying slowly to the beat of the drums. Night had claimed the room and if not for the firelight pushing aside the shadows dancing erratically on the walls I would not have been able to see the old man’s face.
Delmae smiled and raised a hand as if in greeting and then he spoke. “I saw nothing but the remnants of mountains and man’s skeletons, bleached white and I felt the icy touch of fear, but beyond I saw the White Mountain and knew Grandfather has not forsaken the tribes.”
He reached out and touched the cassette player and the journey ended, the drums fell silent. “Hey. Hey.” Delmae whispered and scooted closer to the fire.
Reaching into the fireplace he picked up a glowing ember and scooted back to where I sat. “Hold out your right hand, do not flinch, for no harm will come to you.” He stated gruffly.
Slowly I extended my hand; it was surprisingly steady suspended near his. I could feel the intensity of his eyes and without hesitation he laid the ember upon my open palm. The ember glowed wickedly lying there for perhaps ten or fifteen seconds and then he picked it up and tossed it into the fireplace.
“Hey. Hey.” He said. “You did well, you are human like the Indian. It is late, you should go now.”
Delmae again turned the cassette player on.
I did not leave.
Delmae’s journey continued for nearly an hour, raising an arm now and then, looking up, and lapsing into silence a time or two as tears slipped from his eyes. The recorded drum beat was a remarkable hypnotic aspect and vehicle by which he traveled and I am certain was never out of his control. Perhaps it was only the musings or reminiscing of a time worn soul and he sang.
“The whole world is coming.
A nation is coming, a nation is coming.
The Eagle has brought the message to the tribe.
The father says so, the father says so.
Over the whole earth they are coming.
The buffalo are coming, the buffalo are coming.
The Crow has brought the message to the tribe.
The father says so, the father says so.”

-Sioux Ghost Dance Song-

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Queen Ann and the Secret Garden

The Guardians of the Secret Garden and the Wee People who live there

I brought this home a couple of years ago.

The butterflys love it.

Queen Ann

The secret of my garden will remain with me. It is not a neat place, but need not be. Over the last few years I have found wild flowers that appeal to me and planted them in the garden and to me at least it is ammazing how much more beautiful a wild plant can be if left alone to grow and mature. In the garden are Blackeyed Susans, Indian paint brush, Daisies and many others. Last year I brought a start of Queen Anns Lace to the garden and forgot about doing that. This year it came up and in all the years I have admired the plant did not know how beautiful it can be. The plant is considered trash and like the dandilion is for the most part mowed from pastures and lawns. But the Queen is here now in the secret garden to reign surpreme. Adios.

Heidi On The Run

Heidi cooling off after her run

After laying in her hole.

Cleaning up a bit

With help from me, Heidi is clean again.

Yesterday evening a long about sundown I sat brushing the dead hair from Heidi, (she enjoys that) I took a break and laid down beside her in the grass. She looked down at me and jumped over me and began running around the yard as fast as she could go, leaping over me, nipping at my feet. This went on for about five mintutes and fearing she might get too hot I stood up and then she ran circles around me. She stopped and took off again and jumped into her pool and laid down. I decided to get a picture of her, but when Itried she got out of the pool. I went into the house and snapped a picture of her from a window. She laid there for a while and then ran over to her hole next to a fence and laid down and instantly got very muddy. She came to where I was sitting and laid down in the grass and began cleaning herself. Heidi is truly becoming a dog. She really enjoyed the run and playing with me. Adios

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Polly Anna

Pup Polly Anna

Polly Anna at about five years of age

A Time To Remember
Polly Anna
Over the many years of our lives, stray animals found their way to this little town above the Niangua River. Most were in desperate need of care and most found it at our home. We located homes for a few and others, especually the cats stayed to live out their lives. The dogs that came were often just runaways that eventually left to return home, but there were those who also stayed with us. I could name many, but that would take awhile and so I will recall a few. Bluto, was not a stray, for we aquired him as a puppy. King was an adopted dog as was Maggie.
Indian Creek Smokey, a bloodhound was purchased. Tootsie was a stray that lived with us for many years. And there came another one day with her brother and sister, foot sore and and hungry. The brother was given away and the females stayed with us and then one day one of the females disappeared and that left Polly Anna. Polly Anna beacome family and lived with us, shared our home for eleven years. We were told that she was part pitbull and redbone hound. But I have never known a more gentle and compassionate dog as she. She was completely devoted to us and understood many words. While sitting on the back steps one evening, she brought me a baby rabbit and laid it down carefully at my feet. Another time she brought me a baby starling. But of course the years past and she grew older. Then it was discovered she had cancer and I let her live on until one day she could no longer get around, but worst of all the pain had become unbearable for her. She died peaceably in my arms when the vet gave her a lethal injection. When she passed away, a part of me was gone, but I have my memories of her and that is a wonderful aspect of life. And now there is Heidi. Adios

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Reckless Adventure

From Where The Reckless Adventure Began

The Hole

The First Passage

The First level Above Main Cavern

When deciding to post this story, I could not come up with a title other than a reckless adventure, which after much consideration seems quite appropriate.

A Reckless Adventure
Several yards northwest of Jones Crossing on the Niangua River stands a massive bluff well above the floodplain of the river. The bluff faces roughly south where in a portion of it is one of the largest and deepest caves in the area. I will not reveal the cave’s name. A large field lays along the river a little southwest of the bluff and was used by the Prehistory Indians as a camp site and at one time artifact of these ancient people were abundant along with burial sites and deep remnants of lodges.
The cave has for over a hundred years been a favorite place for people to gather and in the early days of legend and folktales tell of outlaws hiding out and moon shiners making and selling white lightening within the spacious front cavern. The enormous entrance is now cluttered with years of trash extending well below the surface of the floor. Beer cans and bottles, assorted soda containers, broken shovels, tinfoil, decomposed condoms, spent rifle and shotgun shells and quite possibly hundreds of plastic forks, spoons and cups are but a part of the litter left behind by thoughtless people.
Deep holes and associated mounds are evident in the dirt floor from many years of digging and all but remnants of prehistory artifact is now nonexistent. Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, approximately 1920 much of the artifact was removed and included burial sites within the cave. The stories I have heard are conflicting. Some say it was a sanctioned dig, but others have told me it was pot hunters who ravaged the cave entrance. I cannot prove or disprove any of the tales. Perhaps a thousand years from now people that are interested in Nineteen and Twentieth century cultures will come to dig once again.
A steep incline must be ascended to access the spacious front cavern of the cave. The opening is protected by a massive overhang and portions of it have collapsed over the years. The opening to the cave is approximately forty to fifty feet in height and about sixty to seventy feet wide and deep. The shelter would have been ideal for multifamily or small clan occupation. The walls of the front cavern are honeycombed with cracks, crevices and deep ledges, a haven for birds, small mammals, bats, wasps and spiders. I can remember a clear running stream of water flowing from deep within the cave along the west wall.
Three major passageways lead off from the rear of the front cavern and all but one go very deep into the bluff. One passage veers off to the left, merging into a channel where sweet clear water used to run. Up until 1960 at least, the stream was teeming with life. The stream bed was rather wide and about knee deep and was abundant with salamanders, Cray fish, fish and frogs and many of theses creatures were nearly transparent. The stream bed gradually ascended upward deep into the bluff and ended too close to the surface where I am certain a sink hole fed the stream. Years later I made one last journey up the stream bead and found the ceiling had collapsed. I managed to squeeze round the huge mound of rock and soil debris to a point where I could see tree roots protruding through the ceiling. I wasted no time evacuating the area, a very dangerous place to say the least. The source of water had been effectively shut off and only a muddy stream bed remained. The distance from the front cavern to the cave-in was approximately a quarter of a mile. Gone were the many forms of life I had noted years before and in their place was rubbish left behind by again thoughtless people.
The center passage takes a direct course straight into a very large cavern with a very high ceiling where water falls from high above. Along the outer perimeter of the dome shaped ceiling perhaps a thousand or more bats clung and were easily disturbed. Guano is quite deep around the pool of water on the floor. I call this space the Cathedral room and as far as I know magnificent stalagmites and stalactites are still there, high enough to have not been damaged, but unfortunately through out the rest of the cave many of these formation have been destroyed.
The right passage meanders for about fifty feet to a wall of stone that rises to a height at twelve feet where beyond I could see passages fading into the gloom above me. Water dripped from the high ceiling and red mud oozed over the wall to the floor below. Although above me in the semidarkness the passages did not appear to be an ideal and perhaps a dangerous place, I mentally began planning an exploration into the unknown.
Two years later in the spring of 1960 accompanied by Gene, a friend, we returned to the cave. We located a small dead cedar log about twelve feet in length and carried it inside and leaned it at an angle against the wall passage. Gene and I were equipped with hardhats, one carbide light, one kerosene lantern and two small backup flashlights and fifty feet of small rope. We also carried other miscellaneous articles. We began the climb up the wall at 10:00 a.m. with the intentions of returning in three hours. Our objective was to try and locate the water source that drained into the Cathedral room.
Several minutes later after successfully climbing the log we stood in ankle deep mud observing several passages, or I should say a maze of dark tunnels. Most were too small to enter and we chose the largest and then began a steep ascent upward.
It didn’t take long and we were covered from head to toe in mud, slipping and stumbling precariously regaining footholds on the treacherous slope. We slowly continued upward arriving at the entrance of the passageway in about thirty minutes. The tunnel appeared to be large enough to enter and just barely high enough to stoop over. The ascent continued although not nearly as steep as the first climb.
Gene and I entered the passage and sat down next to a wall to rest. Our hands were caked with mud and we cleaned them as best we could to take a few photos and smoke. Sitting there neither of us speaking, I played a beam of light into the far depth of the passage and could see several large stones scattered along the tunnel about sixty yards beyond, I saw what appeared to be the crest of the incline. Water dripped from the ceiling, enough to create a small stream flowing past us. It was obvious at least to me the water source was not all that far away.
After resting awhile we began exploration into the tunnel, a slow process that kept us slipping back down the slope. Not far from where we had rested, near a very large stone we came upon a hole in the center of the tunnel and below could see standing water. We had about two feet next to the north wall to traverse around the hole. With my back next to the wall I slowly made my way forward, digging my heels into the mud. It took me several minutes to clear the hole and I waved to Gene to come. He reluctantly did so and completed the process successfully, although upon arrival he voiced his concern and suggested we turn back. I refused to do so for curiosity of what lay ahead had taken the upper hand.
The immediate danger that now faced us was slipping down the tunnel to the hole, for the passage had steepened and not far a head a smaller hole confronted us and when we looked in could see no bottom. We were now on our hands and knees clawing at the mud, digging our feet deep into the red muck. By the time we reached the crest, regretfully two hours had past, jeopardizing our scheduled departure. We sat for time discussing the situation and decided to venture on for a time.
The passage had widened some and we began a short descent, however we could no longer stand stooped over and had to crawl on our hands and knees. Muddy water flowed freely down the slope. We were soon forced to sit down and slid on our butts, using our feet as brakes. The mud deepened and had formed small dams, creating rather deep pools of water. Progress down was very slow and unnerving. I believe approximately an hour had passed when we reached the end of the decline where we found a large vertical opening in the passage. The opening covered most of the floor area, offering only a narrow passage along a stone ledge at the north wall. I turned the beam of my flashlight into the cavity and at that moment was convinced we had found the source of water flowing into the Cathedral room. I could see about a hundred feet below to a large pool of water and detected the squeaks of bats.
Gene insisted we turn back, a very sensible decision, but as I played the light beam across the large crevice I could see the passage had entered the opening of a huge cavern. The opening appeared to be only a few hundred feet on up a steep incline eroded by flowing water. The urge or perhaps impulse to proceed on was strong and unyielding and I informed Gene I was going around the hole for a look inside the far cavern and he could wait for me if he wanted to. This did not set well with him but he nodded and said he would wait.
Curiosity or the desire to go beyond the next hill so to speak is not an oddity among humans for without that instinctive trait humankind would not have amounted to very much. But of course it can be foolish at times, deadly in some cases as I have learned over the years. Falls have been frequent, snake bites, attacks from wild animals have not diminished my desire to find out what lays ahead.
A few moments of rest and after cleaning my hands and shoes, I tied one end of the rope around my waste and taking the lighted kerosene lantern and one flashlight I cautiously stepped upon the ledge with my back to the wall. I dug my heels into the soft grit that covered the ledge and with the lantern in my left hand; I pushed ever so slowly with my right hand and began moving around the hole. Gene held the other end of the rope firmly. About midway around the hole, one of my feet slid forward and Gene pulled on the rope throwing me off balance. I let go of the lantern to try and get a hand hold, but too late and I fell. Strangely the lantern caught my eye and I seemed to hesitate in midair watching it hit some rocks below me and explode into a fiery ball, sending rivulets of fire cascading down the steep slope into the darkness below. I do not remember the first impact, but it knocked the breath out of me and I rolled down the jagged slope and up against a large stone where I lay gasping horribly for breath. I could faintly hear the frantic voice of Gene and feel him tugging on the rope. I manage to sit up and called out to him not to pull on the rope. My senses cleared somewhat and I found I lay near the burning lantern and for whatever rationality that comforted me. The entire situation was surreal, but soon reality slapped me in the face. I discovered my legs were a bit numb and also realized I had either broken or bruised a rib or two. I called out to Gene that I was alright, but needed to rest a bit. The beam of his flashlight glanced off the walls around me and helped considerably to clear my mind.
After about an hour or so I was told I crawled up the slope to another large stone and sat down. The numbness in my legs had significantly sunsided, but each movement I made brought considerable pain and I could hardly take a deep breath. I realized at the time getting back up to where Gene stood would be extremely difficult.
I decided it was time to try and get out of the hole and pushed the rope further up under my arms and gave the word to Gene to start pulling me up. I stood up and leaned forward and Gene pulled slowly on the rope. I staggered toward a small ledge and managed to get a handhold and held on. Pain slashed through me each time he pulled and I kept my protests as quiet as possible. About midway up I crawled upon a wide ledge and shouted for him to stop and let me rest. I was sweating profusely and my breathing was agonizingly painful. A few minutes later I motioned for him to continue and quickly found hand and foot holds that eased the burden on Gene. Finally after several minutes of near unbearable pain I slid over the rim of the chasm and lay wallowing in the red mud.
The descent to the main floor of the cave was a slow tortuous event and when at last we stood looking out of the cave entrance, found the sun nearing the horizon and evening shadows lurking along the river. I had thrown caution to the wind and paid the price with bruised ribs and abrasions. I have never returned to the second level in the cave, but I still wonder at times what I might have discovered if I hadn’t fallen into the hole.
The man that now owns the property where the cave is located has banned people from going there and that is a good thing. Perhaps the old cave will begin healing from all the abuse it has endured over the years, however some of the damage is irreparable and I also believe more cave-ins will occur, for erosion has been constant and will eventually change much of the interior. Man’s presence in this once pristine cave has destroyed its history, but as time passes its history will resume, for another culture will leave its mark. Adios

Thursday, June 3, 2010

From Heidi and Me, Thank you

Thank you for your kindness

I really mean what I say

Thank you everyone for your kindess and comments on Heidi during her continuing journey with me. Each day she surprise me with delightful antics. Adios.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Heidi, Then And Now

Heidi nearly a year ago

Heidi at present day

Yesterday while looking for a lost item I came across a photo of Heidie. She was still in the control of the facility where I found her. I could hardly bear the sight of her for in those sad eyes only a soul with little hope remained. Now some may say that man is the only creature with a soul, but I strongly disagree. Heidi lay there looking at me with a fear beyong anything I could comprehend. During the last several months I have posted photos of her with updates on her continuing journey with me. Look closely and compare the first Heidi with the present Heidi. During that time she has grown more beautiful, more trusting and life burns bright in those almond eyes. Two nights ago a very intense thunderstorm arrived. I could hear it approaching, sweeping across an old cedar forest northwest of the house. Lighting was fierce and thunder crashed like a thousand canons. I hurried outside and found Heidi standing outside her door and urged her to go in of which she did not hesitate. I closed the door and hurried inside to get her a favorite treat and joined her in the little cabin. She was very glad that I was going to stay with her for awhile. She and I sat in her bed, side by side and watched the storm around us and after awhile, she laid down and nibbled at her chicken jerky. She had bravely weathered the storm, unlike the creature I had first seen many months before. She and I are at ease now with each other. I can't imagine any human who dislikes animals for in them is a great gift of mortal life on this Earth. Adios