Monday, November 12, 2012

Then and now

Then, 1959

And now 2012

The revolver I began with in 1959

This Colt 44 served me well for many years

Sunset over Windyville

A beautiful sunset in the above photo a few evenings ago over Windyville. Then and now is of me with an old revolver that has withstood the many years in between. I bought the British Enfield  in 1957, it was thirty years old at that time, but sadly in 1962 hard times forced me to sell it. Fifty two years later I bought it back, a most prized possession.  During those years from 1957 I began fast drawing against anyone who challanged me.When I lost the Enfield I continued on with another pistol, a Colt replica 44 precussion revolver. When at last many, many years later I was defeated after outdrawing twenty six men and one woman.  A man, the last to challenge me was the fastest. I knew it was bound to happen.Adios

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Country Roads are a link to the past

An Osage dwelling that once could be seen along an Ozark trail

An old country road to McKee Ridge

The colors of Autumn along a country road

Acountry road that will take you to Windyville

Prehistory artifact found along an old country road
It seems to me that country road are more personal this time of the year. The colors of Autumn mark a new begining at the cost of losing summer.
Country Roads are links to the past.
The birth of super highways across the U.S. undoubtedly began along the narrow leaf strewn traces of the first human inhabitants long before the arrival of the Europeans. Many of these trails can be traced back to the obscurity of prehistory and perhaps if one could discern their faded and often marred existence would lead to the origin of the first Americans. It is evident to me at least that many of these ancient trails were migration routes used by animals that have long since become extinct. Many of these trails offered the first explorers passage of least resistance across a wilderness with unimaginable beauty, dangers, wealth and discoveries. Many of these traces were so narrow they afforded little room to maneuver whether on foot or horseback, but later after the arrival of the Europeans they were widened with broad axes and so began the super highways and the scarring of the land  that even at the present day continues. No part of America was spared along these once narrow traces that scaled the highest mountains, or snaked across the most formidable deserts. They were lifelines for the Indians and were defended with a vengeance, resulting in death and hardship to both the natives and invaders, as is evident by the many unmarked graves and artifact that lies hidden in the brush.
The evolution of many of the old trails ultimately linked a new nation together, brutally destroying other nations, ripping apart landscapes of great beauty. Many of the old traces were abandoned or were lost or were simply reclaimed by the land. Country roads of the early years of this country often led men to battle and later whether in defeat or victory they returned along worn torn familiar roads to set about building back that which they destroyed. Country roads united a nation, but they cut through the hearts of a people who once blazed the way.
Yet there remain many picturesque country roads in the vast rural areas of our land. Unlike the impatient highways that flow maddeningly across our land, most country roads of today offer those who travel them quite memories, tree shrouded passage to the crest of a hill where the sunset lingers beneath clouds aflame with its waning light, the fragrance of new mown hay, the song of a mourning dove or a fleeting glimpse of a wily coyote disappearing into a stand of buck brush.  Memories abound along these roads where once you shared the moonlight with the love of your life. Country roads meander past old cemeteries of both white settlers and Indians or forgotten homesteads and sagging one room school houses where leaning out houses can be seen peeking out from plum thickets or ivy vines. Country roads are a shared heritage that should not be forgotten. Adios.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Point of View

A Path through a wondrous Creation 

As the movement of man through the ages occurred they began casting aside many of the gods along the way. Kingdoms were built and destroyed again and again in rejection of particular gods. After many years of unimaginable strife there appeared an ethnic group of great conviction, so much so they were forced into isolation for proclaiming the existence of an unseen God, the only true God, the creator of the heavens and Earth. These people wandered without homeland and often were persecuted to the brink of extinction.
Incredibly something changed the mind set of many humans and within a relatively short time numerous people became convinced that there was one God and man’s soul was eternal. The results established the beginning of fundamental values; however blood sacrifice still remained a prevailing aspect and then ended, (perhaps) with the crucifixion of Jesus. The written word of Jesus came into being and thus along with the Old Testament, changed forever the hierarchy of controlled region.
There is today a danger to those of faith and the indestructible staff of conviction must remain grasped tightly in hand. The young are the most susceptible for change is often minute, but in long term can influence or alter fundamental values.
At present the bookshelves in scores of Christian book stores and many others display numerous translations of the Old and New Testaments and slowly but surely revising these old books of the ages.
Dick and Jane is a wonderful book to read as is the King James Bible, but to reduce the scriptures to a children’s vestige will in time place it  on a dusty shelf of a museum for lack of intelligence and most important conviction to understand the true, unchangeable meaning of the written word of God.  Adios

Friday, September 14, 2012

Indian Creek Smokey- A Black and Tan Blood Hound. An old friend from long ago.
Good humor is of course is instilled in humans by our creator
And I believe that God also shares this trait and so with this in mind I present the story of the Noble Black and Tan Hounds.

The Sixth Day
It is said in the Good Book that God created the heavens, the Earth, the creatures of the land and finally created man in his own image. But I have often wondered which animal he created first and so I reckon after much thought on the matter, God decided between the horse and dog. I believe the dog won out, but then he faced another dilemma, which breed to create first? Was it the poodle? I think not, perhaps he considered the Rat Terrier, but failed to act and put off this project for awhile and completed every thing else including man.
The sixth day must have been a long one as he pondered over the small mound of dirt at his feet. The Collie dog came to mind and was a likely candidate, for the love and devotion was deeply inherent in this beautiful animal and truly an inspiration of God. But in the end the Collie came in a close second. God smiled at last and then gently touched the mound of dirt and watched as the first long eared, bony framed, gentle eyed Black and Tan raised its magnificent head and bawled. God liked the hound so much he quickly created a mate for the first one. It took only a few seconds to realize the hounds were without purpose and sent them running into the woods to trail the opossums, squirrels, bobcats and all the other wild critters that Black and Tans love to trail.
God was so pleased with the hounds he wanted to immediately share them with others and so he instilled in Adam the desire to be with the hounds.
God was pleased and fixed up an old shack in the center of a beautiful track of land for Adam and Eve and called it Eden. This did not set well with Eve, for she didn’t particularly care for the hounds, but was kind to them and agreed to let them sleep on the front porch of the shack.
Hunting was rather limited in Eden and it wasn’t long until the hounds were straying into the adjoining countryside. Of course Adam went with the hounds and again this did not set well with Eve.
Eve asked God what she could do to make Adam stay at home more, especially in the evenings. He smiled and said to her not to worry for Adam was a responsible man and eventually he would straighten out.
God cautioned Eve about trying to discourage Adam from running with the hounds and forbade her from tempting Adam with freshly baked apple pies.
Eve was determined to discourage Adam from spending so much with the hounds. One day while alone in the shack and with the faint bawl of the hounds ringing in her ears she proceeded to bake an apple pie. Along about sunrise Adam and the hounds returned. They were noticeable weary from the long night of hunting and in need of food and rest. Adam had become a true hound dog man and before he entered the shack he removed all the ticks from the dogs fed them a generous helping of pork rinds and turnip greens and bedded them down on the front porch.
Adam went into the shack, his overalls caked with river mud and smelling very much like the hounds.  Eve smiled with a devilish gleam in her eyes and sat before him a warm apple pie. She cut a huge portion of it and handed it to him and watched as he hungrily devoured the forbidden fruit.
 It is only fair to note that Adam wasn’t as innocent as he appeared to be, for he knew Gad did not want him indulging in apple pie. He didn’t know why but was quite aware of the rule. Like all good hound dog men after a night’s hunt he never turned down fried chicken, mashed potatoes and red eye gravy and especially Eve’s freshly baked apple pie.
After gorging himself on the meal, Adam reluctantly agreed to limit the hunts with the hounds to three nights a week, if Eve would continue baking the pies. Pleased, Eve agreed. They promised not to tell God.
But as is well known, God knows all and a few days later he sent Adam and Eve packing along with the hounds.
God informed Adam he would now have to work for a living. Adam was devastated, for he knew this would take him away from time with the hounds.
God informed Eve she would now bear Adam’s children and ironically encouraged her to continue baking apple pies. The rest of story is history, except for one little known fact. Adam and Eve made their way to Arkansas by way of the Red River, and then headed north to the Niangua River Basin where they settled. Adam split rails for a living, but on Saturday nights he always went hunting with the Black and Tan Hounds. Adios

Monday, September 10, 2012

It is a wonderful morning, a prelude to autumn. I am looking forward to this aspect of the year and to the winter or at least the first of it. The follwing story, Lady and the outlaw is fiction a product of my imagination. Lady is the most important part of it. She lived here in Windyville until her passing, a beautiful and gentle mare. The picture of her was created by my daughter Tammy. So if you are inclined to read the story I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. There may be errors for I did not take a lot of time editing it. The next post will contaian the story of the Black and Tan Hound.
A pencil drawing of Lady

Lady and the Outlaw
The Pitts Cabin located in a small valley on the north bank of the Niangua River sat nestled on a high knoll overlooking the river. A granary, chicken house and barn rested on a lower slope a fair distance down from the cabin. A split rail fence enclosed the barn where Lady, a four year old gated mare stood sleepily switching flies beneath the drooping boughs of huge Elm tree. Cattle grazed below in an adjoining pasture along with two plow horses. An old rooster of considerable size stood in the doorway of the chicken house impatiently clucking, calling in two stray hens. Night, rapidly approaching brought forth the first of many choruses of wandering coyotes. The sound reverberated against the shadowed hills and bluffs along the Missouri Ozarks Niangua River.
Nine year old Emily, the youngest of eight children of Frank and Emma Pitts waited outside the two story log house until the last chicken entered their house and then ran down the hill and closed the door. Emily stopped at the corral with a chunk of molasses bread in hand and held it out to Lady.
“Pa says I can ride you down to the river and back in the morning.,” she said. I still can’t believe he gave you to me for my birthday. I love you Lady and have to go in now. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Night mist rising from the Niangua cooled the midnight air. A scent laden breeze stirring through the Elm brought forth a fluttering of birds roosting deep in the boughs of the old tree.
Whinnying softly; Lady pranced to the fence, the sleek body taunt as she searched the night air for tan elusive scent that troubled her. The scent was strong, coming from somewhere along the river. Again she whinnied, pawing the ground and began nodding. Suddenly the mare whirled and retreated under the tree and stood waiting. The scent of blood was now in the air.
A shadow figure appeared at the edge of a brush thicket not far from the corral and then began moving stealthily up the hill toward the corral. A shrill nicker burst from the mare and she moved deeper into the darkness around the tree. She watched silently the lone figure of a man duck below a top rail into the corral. 
The man removed a bridle from a fence post near the gate, turned and walked slowly toward Lady. “Easy girl, he whispered. “It’s been a long day for me and I haven’t the strength to chase you around.”
The stranger reeked of blood, but the reassuring words of the man eased somewhat the fear in Lady and she stood quietly, warily observing the intruder. The man expertly tossed the bridle reins over Lady’s neck and just as quickly the bridle was slipped over her head. It was too late for Lady to flee.
The blood soaked left arm of the stranger hung useless at his side and the face of the man was pale and drawn and glistened with sweat. Flinching, the man moved toward the gate with reluctant Lady in tow.  He stopped at the corral gate where a saddle and blanket sat astride the top rail of the fence. Mumbling incoherently he pulled the blanket down and laid it across the mare’s back and then hoisted the saddle across her back. The effort brought him to his knees and he sat for a moment blinded by the pain. Slowly he stood and with feeble strength pulled the cinch as tight as he could.  With sheer will power he placed a foot in a stirrup and arduously swung astride Lady and slumped forward clinging to her mane. Agonizing seconds passed until he nudged the mare gently with a spur and she moved toward the gate.
Fear of the law and a hangman’s noose prevailed and he found strength to pull up the latch and the gate swung wide. Lady obediently moved outside the corral and with no further prodding of the spur she walked slowly past the dark window of the cabin and beyond into the gloom of the forest. The steady beat of her hooves faded into the night.
Dawn found Lady and the outlaw at the western edge of a timbered ridge overlooking the Lebanon, Fort Scott road. Twenty miles now lay behind the pair and soon they were moving quickly along the well traveled trace toward the Kansas border and perhaps freedom for the outlaw. Fear clung like sweat to his tortured body, for somewhere ahead the law might be waiting and would not hesitate to bring him in dead.
The wounded arm was now bound to the outlaw’s gun belt and lay useless across one leg. The gaunt weathered face of the outlaw bore the mark of extreme fatigue but his eyes were alert and carefully scanned the trail ahead. The reins hung from Lady’s neck, with his hand near the Colt forty five. He watched each rider they met with eyes shadowed under the wide brim of his hat.
When at last many miles lay back along the road, the outlaw took stock of Lady and gently patted her neck. “I hope you don’t mind ol gal, but we still got a long way to go before you can rest,” he said. “I robbed a bank in Lone Rock and a posse bent on taking me dead or alive durn near got me. They killed my horse. Blood thirsty they were, but dang I got away with two thousand dollars. That’s enough to buy me a spread and some cattle and I reckon you’ll be a part of it.”
At day break the next morning Lady and the outlaw cautiously entered the front street of Hanley, Missouri. Slumped forward, with the brim of his hat pulled down, the outlaw prodded Lady past a large mercantile store, saloon, barbershop and a small two story hotel. Further on they came to a weather beaten livery stable.
“Can I help you’ll, young feller?” a man called out from a front door of the stable. “You don’t look so good.”
“I got hurt yesterday,” the outlaw replied. “I need to board the mare for a couple of hours, while I see a doctor. “Is there one in town?”
“Yep, Doc Gann,” the man answered. “He’s got an office in a room of the hotel yonder. “I’ll see to your mare.”
“Give her a good brushing and a feed of oats and hay if you would,” the outlaw said and slowly dismounted. “Later tie her to that tee over there. What do I owe you?”
“Awe, two bits will do.”
Lady was lead into a stall and the saddle, blanket and bridle gentle removed. She stood quietly as the man groomed her. When finished the man poured her a generous helping of oats and place hay in the trough. The man stood quietly at her side and watched her hungrily eat the fare.
 “I reckon there is more to your master’s injury than meets the eye,” the man said and turned to leave. “I have a feeling you don’t belong to him, but it ain’t none of my business. Do the best you can girl.”
Much later when afternoon shadows lay across the street near the old oak tree where Lady stood beneath its shade; the dappled sunlight catching the sheen of her coat. She gazed about uneasily, watching a man stagger from the saloon, haphazardly making his way toward her, cursing and yelling at nothing in particular. When it appeared he was intent on approaching her he stumbled and fell face down. Too drunk to stand he turned over and soon lay unconscious in the dust of the street.
Lady moved closer to the tree and snorted disapprovingly, patiently waiting for the return of the outlaw.
Nearing sundown the outlaw slowly made his way along the street toward Lady. Lady welcomed him with a shrill nicker pulling at the halter rope. The outlaw smiled and hurried to Lady’s side. He reeked of whiskey and appeared to be free of pain. His left arm was now heavily bandaged and secured to his gun belt.
“We got to be on our way,” he said. “It’s still a long way to Kansas.”
The following eight day were especially demanding for Lady, as they journeyed across the vast and seemingly continuous plain. The perpetual wind, dust, burning sun and sparse water bore heavily on both man and horse. Large herds of Buffalo could be seen in the distance, their scent alien to Lady. The scent of horses frequently attracted Lady, mingled with the strange smell of humans clothed in raw hide clothing. Many times during the passing of the other humans, the outlaw sought cover in the tall grass, pulling Lady to her knees, often hiding there for hours.
If not for yet another scent born on the wind, Lady would not have responded so quickly to spur and rein, for an instinctive urgency kept her moving, stirring in her a persistent restlessness. Often at night while standing hobbled, with head raised high, she searched the fleeting wind for a subtle fragrance that taunted the very essence of her being. She listened to the mysterious, elusive drumming of hooves far beyond the prairie. The high current of the wind teased her with a substance of choice more profound than she had ever known before.  Often she would call out, to stumble against the hobble and then scolded by the outlaw. The further she traveled across the unbroken land the more intense the sensation became of strength and freedom like nothing she had never known before. It awaited her somewhere ahead.
Near the twentieth day of the journey as they neared the end of the prairie, an ominous appearing thunderhead met the pair near a high rise of stone and gullies. Rumbling from with in, flashing lightning, the fast approaching storm prompted the outlaw to find a safe cover from the storm. Dust devils skipped back and forth across the trail and sent a small herd of deer fleeing in all directions.
With little choice the outlaw laid the spurs to Lady up a steep slope in among the rocks. The wind blowing at gale force drove the pair deeper into the rock outcrop and down into a ravine where a bluff stood draped in vine. Dismounting, the outlaw led Lady beneath an overhang as large chunks of wood and other debris tumbled from the sky. The tail of a twister danced past the overhang and slowly ascended into the black sky. Exhausted by the day’s ride, the outlaw sat down and held a tight rein on the mare.
“The way you’ve been acting the last several days, I’m afraid to trust you,” the outlaw said to Lady. “I’cain’t imagine what has got into you. What is it that you see or hear out there?”
The storm past and Lady and the outlaw crossed a rapid moving stream then up a steep hill onto a broad muddy trace that would take them roughly westward. Several minutes later a building came into view and then another and ahead of the travelers a town came into view along a wide deeply rutted street. Instinctively the outlaw loosened the Colt in its holster.
The street was crowded with horses, wagons and people and no one appeared to take notice of Lady and the outlaw.  But that ended abruptly when a tall man wearing a fancy black leather vest stepped out on the street. The man was armed with a pearl handled pistol stuck in the waste band of his trousers. A large nickel plated Marshal’s badge hung from the vest and glinted wickedly in the bright sunlight.
“Luke Shannon,” the man called out.
“Are you hollering at me?” The outlaw asked, pulling Lady to a halt.
“I reckon I am Luke,” the Lawman answered. “I got a wanted poster on you. Step down off the mare real easy.”
“What am I wanted for?”
“Bank robbery in Missouri,” the lawman answered.
”You got the wrong man Marshal; I ain’t never been in Missouri.”
“Get down off the mare boy. I ain’t gonna tell you again.”
Oblivious to the gathering crowd of people along the street,” the Outlaw ignored the warning and remained in the saddle staring down at the marshal. His right hand lay across his right thigh near the holstered Colt and then he drew the pistol with the speed of lightning.  The slug from the Colt struck the Marshal in the chest.
The Marshal died instantly and fell backwards to the ground.
A bearded man wearing a yellow poncho moved to the edge of the boardwalk and brought up a single shot fifty caliber rifle and fired. The bullet hit Lady creasing a flank and she screamed and fell to her knees, only to be brutally brought back up by the outlaws spurs. Lady whirled and headed back down the street, running as fast as she could.
The bearded man fired the rifle once again, hitting the outlaw in the back, nearly unseating him.  He grasped Lady’s mane and hung on swaying precariously in the saddle. 
Driven by terror of the man and his rifle, Lady ran along the street, the reins torn and ragged dangling beneath her head. At the edge of the town she headed north westward over a high plain, beyond the settlement. The man called Luke and outlaw was no longer relevant.
Exhaustion finally brought Lady to a halt at the edge of a swollen creek and she stood with head down gasping for air. Lacking the strength to dismount, the outlaw fell to the ground and rolled over on his back. He drew from his belt a sheath knife and slowly reached up and cut the girth. He tried to sit up, but couldn’t and instead reached up and grasped the tattered reins, groaning piteously, completely blind now he pulled Lady’s head down and removed the bridle. He sank back on the ground, near death.
“I’m sorry girl,” he whispered hoarsely, “go now get out of here and find what you have been looking for out there in this God forsaken land.”
Sensing the presence of death in the man lying on the ground, Lady stepped away, dislodging the saddle and blanket and moved closer to the stream and without hesitation plunged into the swift current. Long powerful stokes took her quickly to the opposite side. She stood for a time searching the wind, with ears forward listening nodding as if anticipating what lay beyond.
Drawn again westward, Lady quickened her pace, stepping higher, faster, breaking into a gallop and then stretched out into a dead run. The motion was effortless of body and mind. A victorious mane and tail flowed in the wind. Ahead on the horizon she could perceive a bluish haze, a shimmering line so distant only a courageous spirit could perceive it. Further on in the distant mountains, images of her own kind beckoned her and among them stood one of strength that bore no mark of man, the essence of freedom and rebirth.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Niangua River snow scene

A Painting of the barm where I grew up

Hot and I mean hot  dry weather has kept me inside for the most part. We are now recieving some rain and hopefully much more. A storm  blew through here yesterday with strong winds that tried to be severe, but no rain. I am looking forward to cooler and a bit of cold weather. The Celtic Festival will be tommorrow and we are attending it. Lots of Scotsman and Irish will be there in full dress. There might be an Englishmen
or two, I know of at least one who will walk proudly past the Irish and Scotts. It will be a nice gathering for folks. I have been writing a lot these past days and painting. Two paintings are posted. My next posting will contain a story, in honor of a man I used to know. He was a hound dog man. He loved hounds, especially Black and Tans. There is nothing better than sitting on a moonlit hill listening to Black and Tans running a fox. No one gets hurt, just a pastime for the hounds and a wiley fox. Adios

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My second painting of a buzzard

38 cal. Enfield (British) revolver, aprox. 80 to 90 years old.

The fist and last melon from my garden

It has been a month to the present since we have had rain. 100 degree is the about the norm and wildlife is suffering. Much of it has moved out of the area, to the river I presume. The grass has turned brown and a few of the trees and scrubs have either died or gave up their leaves to survive. Yet for all the devastation, I noticed  this morning near the ground a hollyhock is blooming. I have seen worse, but the drought is fast appraoching critical. Fire danger is not if it will occur but when, and it will spread rapidly even across a near barren field. I keep in mind that each passing day will bring us closer to rain.  I suppose I should try to do a rain dance. The photo of the small melon is the only one from my garden and the vine has perished in the drought. The painting is my second attempt at depicting a buzzard. The photo is of a Enfield revolver. Fifty years ago, in need of money I sold it for fifteen dallors. I ask the present owner of the gun if he would sell it back to me of which he agreed. The old weapon is now once again in my possession. The man who prevously owned it said the gun was stolen once, but he manged to get it back The pistol was dropped in a pound while frog season was open and remained there for several days, but upon recovery of the gun, it was hosed off, laid up to dry and reloaded. Many years ago the Enfield was the first weapon I used to begin my fast draw. It has colorful past and hopefully will remain with me. Adios.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The following is but one of many of stories and articles that will be featured in a book I am working on

I have discovered over the years many life stories hidden in the minds of people in all walks of life, some are remnants of the distant past. Remarkable tales too often may never be fully revealed. Intimate aspects of life that are compelling and unique but sadly fall by the wayside when death occurs to those who posse them. Trust is the key to open the door to these remarkable experiences. I alone was fortunate to have been allowed to share a life experience with a man who did so reluctantly.
I sat quietly on the floor next to Delmae, (fictitious name), an old man of Siouan stock: the face bearing symbols of time, deeply creased, weather worn to the texture of old leather. Gray black hair shadowed the eyes that reflected the single flame rising and bending like an ancient warrior of old in a stone fireplace located next to a wall of the room. The old man sat with bowed head in prayer as I waited next to him and sipped cold coffee from a tin cup.
Delmae and I were not close friends, for between us lay hundreds of year of white man’s deceit, but we shared a personal trust and respect. He said to me not long after I arrived at his home that evening, his dark eyes boring into mine, “The White man’s defeat was Custer last stand, but the Indian paid a terrible price for that victory.”
This bitter statement appeared to open the door to many haunting tales of his upbringing. Delmae unquestionably believed in a savior that would come to replenish the buffalo and this soothed his troubled soul. He openly mourned the destruction of the land, the rivers and his beloved people.
“A time will come when Mother Earth will no longer tolerate all man’s stupidity and deeply cleanses her-self of the brutal rape she has endured. It will begin on the White Mountain.”
The grey dusk lingered in the window of the small room then slowly 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 cassette player and sat it on the floor next to him. The distant bellow of a diesel truck on the highway broke the silence and he frowned deeply.
“Hey, hey,” he called out softly. “I am ready for the journey. I doubt if you can or will follow, say nothing but listen.”
Delmae bent over and pushed a button on the cassette player. I heard nothing for a second or two then I could detect the faint sounds of a drum, beating low, unyielding and it grew stronger, intensifying, demanding attention.
“Look,” Delmae said softly, pointing at the fire, “the sunset and I see a trace that will lead to the mountains and the Great Plains where the grass is as tall as the buffalo. See!”
Captivated by the pulsating sound of the drum beat I leaned forward, tempted to join the hypnotic rhythm, but declined, for I was there only to observe. I was quickly left behind as I listened to the voice of Delmae.  I sensed urgency within the gruffness of the voice, but could not determine whether it held fear or reverent appreciation.
“I am standing at the edge of the plains, for I know them. I have been here many times and beyond lies nothing but desert that should not be there,” Delmae replied with quite, but deep emotion. “There is a wide road that cuts through this unfamiliar land and along it I see the lodges of the White man. As far as I can see there are no Buffalo, no grass only a waste land and I am turning back.”
He sat for several minutes with trembling hands on his lap, staring into the flames that now had had risen very high. He then began swaying to the rhythm of the drums, moaning softly. The shadows around us began swaying also rising erratically at times to the ceiling, embracing the old man. I sat very still waiting, afraid to speak for fear of intruding.
The darkness of night claimed the room and if not for the firelight I would not have been able to see his face. I swallowed the last of the cold bitter coffee and quietly waited for Delmae to return.
 Delmae’s face of stone unexpectedly broke into a smile and he raised a hand in greeting and spoke. “I saw nothing but remnants of the Great Plains where Buffalo graze no more and a haze shrouding the mountains and the many skeletons of past tribes of the people, bleached white. I felt the cold touch of fear, but I looked more closely and saw the White Mountain and knew with out a doubt that Grandfather has not forsaken the tribes.”
He reached out and gently touched the cassette player and the journey ended as the drums fell silent. “Hey, hey,” Delmae whispered and scooted closer to the fire. Reaching down he picked up a glowing ember and scooted back to where I sat. “Hold out your right hand, palm up, no harm will come to you,” he gruffly instructed.
Slowly without hesitation I extended my hand, surprised at how steady it was. The intensity of his eyes held mine as he calmly laid the glowing ember on my open palm. Glowing wickedly the ember remained there for perhaps ten seconds when he picked it up and tossed it into the fire.
“Hey, hey,” he smiled, you are human like me. It is late you should go now.”
Delmae’s journey had lasted an hour. The drum beat was a remarkable hypnotic aspect of the journey and a vehicle by which he traveled and I am certain he was in control. I can only say that of which I witnessed was perhaps a memory of old or the reminiscing of a time worn soul.

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-

Monday, June 25, 2012

Facing outward of the large entrance of Liga Cave

Me, standing above Liga Cave

Looking south toward Bare Foot Pass

A time to Remember
Liga Cave
By Ronnie Powell
Liga Cave is undoubtedly as far as I am concerned, one of the most unique caverns I have discovered along the Niangua River Basin. The cave is situated on a bluff high above a creek and a bottom field. A spring flows from the main entrance, although it is more of seepage at present day, but in time past would have provided fresh water for the Prehistory Indians. It is said the cave was named after Liga, an old woman who washed her clothing there many years ago.
Liga Cave is one of the last bluff shelters I visited and although I left little of my presence there, others had left their marks by plundering the remnants of a lost civilization. The beauty of the surrounding area is breath taking, beyond words of description, but in the years since I have learned it has been logged off and I am certian many of the old growth oaks are no more. The cave is secluded hidden from view, a small vestige of a once pristine wilderness.
On a beautiful late spring morning in 1983 I left Windyville, fording the Niangua River at Barefoot Pass and headed south over McKee Ridge in search of Indian artifacts along trails and open fields. After descending the eastern end of a ridge I came to the tail end of a bluff that stood shinning majestically above a creek which flows into the Niangua River a short distance beyond. mist was rising from the creek, drifting upward, forming short lived clouds. The discovery of the bluff stirred in me wanderlust to travel once again into time forgotten and to explore its craggy realm. I sopped for awhile to enjoy the beauty of the sun, the mist and the wonderful but haunting calls of the Mourning doves.
I began to notice during the years of my journey that slowly but surely my freedom to wander the land was being diminished, not by the people of whom I had known all my life, but by those who came later from outside the Ozarks. Perhaps I was unwilling or of a mindset that I didn’t realize at first the reduction of my freedom, for as yet I had not encountered too many people who objected to my presence and most of all no hostility. I would learn a hard lesson that day and discover with certainty my freedom was in jeopardy.
 A corn field caught my attention below the base of a bluff and considering the location of the field which was high  above the flood plain of the river I knew would be an ideal place to walk between the rows of corn and look for artifacts. The plants were still in their infancy, barely six inches in height, an irresistible setting. Many times before in many other cornfields I had walked between the rows looking for chert arrowheads and other stones tools. Blissfully content I began walking across the edge of the field and hadn’t gotten far, perhaps halfway when I heard the sound of a human an angry human voice and looked up to see a man at the far end of the field shouting and waving a shotgun. I stopped, standing about three rows from the timberline and the steep slope leading up to the bluff. I did not hesitate and darted into the timber, for the language that came from the irate man left little doubt as to what he was going to do. I ducked below an old barbed wire fence and seconds later as I was about to enter the timber the man fired the shotgun and I could hear buckshot tearing into the leaves overhead. I quickly distanced myself from the fellow. I sat for a time on a high point above the field among several large stones on a relatively narrow ledge. I watched the man leave the field and eventually headed westward into some timber I took a deep breath and removed my Stetson from my head and found a hole near the top of the crown. The buckshot had passed through the hat. I thoroughly enjoyed a cup of coffee and my briar that morning.
 Later after my nerves had settled down a bit I decided to follow a ledge around a notch in the bluff and came to a small opening in the stone. Again, to make certain I was alone I sat down and slowly looked out across the field I had just fled. I sat there for a time until satisfied no one was about.
I found the opening to be large enough to enter and pushed my backpack though and with a flashlight in hand quickly entered the opening to see a long narrow tunnel that appeared to reach deep into the bluff, but most striking was the discovery that at least part of the tunnel was being or had been inhabited by a person or persons not of Prehistory origin. Empty tin cans lay next to one wall, along with bread wrappers and other assorted debris. A deep ash pile was situated near the entrance and at the base of one wall lay a grease encrusted tin frying pan. A fire blackened coffee can and several newspapers and magazines each bearing the mailing label of a different person were also present. It is my opinion the magazines and newspapers had been taken from mailboxes along a road in the area. Further in the tunnel lay a very dirty, tattered quilt. After closer scrutiny I decided it had not been a recent inhabitation and moved into the tunnel to further  explore it. I hadn’t gone far on hands and knees when I felt a cool breeze on my face. A short distance on I was able to stand bent over and moved quickly around a curve in the tunnel and before me I could see a large entrance. Elated by the discovery I ran down a short incline and looked out into a tangle of vines and brush and to my right noted a smaller opening into the bluff. This opening revealed a muddy area where water trickled into a pool outside and flowed over rocks into the creek some one hundred feet below.  Further exploration along this tunnel revealed old water marks on the walls, up to about three feet and suggested to me it had once been a free flowing stream of water. Returning to the main entrance I looked up through the brush and vines and could see the crest of the bluff about fifty feet above me.
I remained in the cave until near sundown, crawling about, probing the earth along the walls and near the entrance observing remnants of Prehistory occupation. A sandstone shaft smoother, a small chert drill and two side notched arrow points were among the artifact discovered along with several earthen potshards representing Prehistory habitation. Four plastic or celluloid buttons, a short length of copper tubing and a small brown bottle were exposed near the entrance. I discovered near the rear of the cave at the base of the incline leading to the tunnel an area that appeared to have been partially excavated in a haphazard manner to an approximate depth of forty inches where human bones lay in an haphazard display. I surmised two burials had been removed and were probably the work of pot hunters
Liga Cave, unique in part due to the small entrance running through the bluff to the larger opening where at times the wind howls as it passes through and is an unnerving sound  to say the least especially at night sitting before a fire in the inner shadows of the cave. The larger entrance opens to a notch in the bluff, rimmed on one side by a unstable wall leading up to the top of the bluff where on the lower side a near vertical drop off to the creek below,  deeply eroded by water once flowing from the cave. It is truly a wonder of nature.
Unfortunately most of the cave floor had been excavated haphazardly and as I learned from repeated visits to the cave much of the artifact removed and undoubtedly taken. I discovered with reasonably certainty at least eight prehistoric burials had been violated and I secured as many of the bones I could and buried them outside near the base of the bluff. I found inside the large entrance on the east wall faded and damaged prehistoric hieroglyphics, depicting what appeared to be human figures and possibly a large animal. Near the floor of the same wall, directly below the drawings laid a sand stone much too heavy to carry that had been used as a base for grinding nuts or perhaps maze. Two pestles were also discovered and both had been heavily used.
The main cavern of the cave contained several stalactites and stalagmites, but all had been broken to some degree.
As far as I could tell most of the pottery was thick, plain and of a dark hue. The remnants of stone points were typical of early habitation, where as in the field below, most of the stone points appeared to be of late woodland people.
The skeletal materials, with the exception of one burial contained no skulls and were probably removed by pothunters to later sell. The skull I found was of an especially small child and the bones of all the human remains had been scattered about to the extent I could not determine what belonged to any particular skeleton and could not determine the sex of any particular individual with the exception of one I believed to be female.
During my visits to the cave at no one time did I encounter anther human and believe the excavation I found was a one time event that took place a long time before my arrival.  Liga Cave and the surrounding area is truly a marvel of nature and once a very secluded place where early folks of the Ozarks lived, raised their young and died.  It seems nothing is scared anymore and the secrets of the Niangua River are most certainly in jeopardy One must look closely and envision another time into a wilderness of unimaginable beauty where the forces of nature were often brutal and unforgiving to a people of great endurance.  Adios

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June, 2012 painting

June, 1965 painting

Following the Niangua

The Beautiful Niangua River
Spring is about to merge into summer and I must say it has been amazingly beautiful. I have posted another painting to compare with another I painted in June of 1965. The suject is geese flying and the older one has three geese and the present one 47 years later has four. It is very warm this morning and I will take shelter in my room upstairs where my view is quite spectacular. I have decided to post more writing on  my journey to the Dawn of Prehistory, where my footprints may be found often along the way.

The Niangua River of legends, mysteries and folklore
The Niangua River the dominat force in its basin rises from its ancient cradle in Northern Webster County, Missouri, where it eventually flows into Dallas County where I reside, meandering past a vast array of rugged hills, hollows and magnific limestone bluffs. The Niangua loops at least three times through Laclede County, then flows into Camden County and is fianally buried in the Lake of the Ozarks. The direct distance overland or as the crow flies is aprox 45 miles, but follow the river on its sinuous course and the distance will exceed 140 miles. Many springs and creeks flow into the Niangua and were once cool and clear, nurturing an abundance of life. Sadly, however many are poluted at present and some have ceased to exist. Yet the Niangua survives to flow fleely to its destination. For those people who have not experienced a camp fire on a cold winter night, hunkered beneath a shelter of cedar boughs, sipping cowboy coffee, listening to coyotes along the river while anticipating the journey ahead or recalling days past where I stood at the entrance of Mckee Cave watching fog rise from its entrance where images gathered to be swept away, you may follow me. I have sat at the grave of the tall one, an acient Osage Warrier that would have stood seven feet in height and reflected on his life. I have observed as closely as I dared into the many secrets that abound along the Niangua and left without leving behind my presence. Salt Peter, McKee and Liga Caves are but a few of the sites I visited and found astounding discoveries. The secrets of the past remained where they fell or were buried, often representing unrelenting changes in fragile lifeways of a people plaugued by traumaic land and climatic upheavals. I have searched among the scattered remnants of lost civilizations and I too at times was lost in the obscurity of the dawn of man. In part my journey was an inherent disire for adventure. Adios

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Heidi, getting a little plump

A beautiful Hollyhock peeking in the window

A Niangua River scene

Chief Lone Eagle, last free Osage on a high ridge, Niangua.
The painting is much larger

Spring and summer offers many things to do outside along with mowing and a bit of gardening and traveling here and there. After much thought we hired a tree trimming outfit to take out a few of our precious trees, for they were leaning and hovering over the house much to close. It had to be done. Heidi is doing quite well and is losing her winter coat, with the help of a brush. She is much diffrent than she was when she first came here to make it her home. She is a beautiful creature quite content in a large fence yard with a house of her own. She loves to walk with me along the the roads out of town and looks for grub worms to eat.Yesterday  I saw a fellow coming toward the house. He was stranger or so it appeared for he wore a long gray beard. When he approached me within speaking distance, I spoke as did he and  he kept moving toward me. When at last he was close I saw beneath the beard a friend I hadn't seen for at least forty years. It was a great moment for the both of us and we spent the next few hours talking and catching up with our lives. We have made plans to float a portion of the Niangua River in the autumn. It will be a two day journey and camping for one night. I truly appreciate those friends of mine who now and then after many years come to see me. I do hope someday, Two Lanterns will once again come to visit. I have no idea where he is and I have been unable to locate the rascal. My next posting on this blog will contain the contiuation of the Foot prints into the Dawn of Prehistory. It has been several months since the last episode. This spring has brought the holly hock more beautiful than they have been for years. A couple of them have grown to over eight foot in height. I have finish two paintings since last time I posted. Adios

Friday, April 27, 2012

Butcher Redoak
A thunder storm with a lot of lightening and rain has gone its way. I sat with Heidi on the back porch while it was passing. At one point she seemed a bit concerned about the hail that briefly fell. We shared a penut butter sndwhich. I have been busy with work around the place and I think I am about to catch up. I did finish a small painting. I have by looking everywhere at swap meets for ammo for my Webly & Scott 38. It takes 38 S&W, a bit hard to find, but I now have 4 hundred rounds and will buy another hundred rounds. I'll will have enough then to have the cases reloaded. The seventy year old piece is my favorite. It is quick and very accurate. One of the first handguns I owned was a Webley 45.Adios.