Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DODGING TORNADOES

Last week hubby and I traveled to Tulsa so I could speak with the Tulsa Night Writers group. Now, ordinarily this would have been an easy journey of about 130 miles one way, but considering that there were tornado watches and warnings popping around the area like frog legs on a hot griddle, it became problematic.

A few emails and telephone calls into the day we were scheduled to leave convinced us that if we could escape Northwest Arkansas and get into Oklahoma we’d be safe. So, after assuring the group that we were leaving, but warning that if we ran into a wall cloud, we’d turn around and come home, we climbed in our car and started.

For years I’ve done all the driving when we travel together. It’s not that my husband can’t drive, he can and does, when he’s alone. When we’re together I drive, he rages. Yes, you probably understand that very well. You see he’s not only a man, he’s a retired semi driver, so no one knows what they’re doing on the road but him. Soon he’s yelling instructions to each and every driver, while dodging those he judges either don’t know what they’re doing or they’re doing it too slow. It becomes a ride very similar to a roller coaster.

Of course, with me at the wheel, I’m in danger of becoming a target of his criticisms. If you know me, you know that doesn’t work very well, though. So, off we went, into the throes of tornadic weather. If we could get across the Oklahoma border, we understood it was clear and warm.

The storm hit as we headed north toward Springdale, Arkansas. Rain, thunder, lightning and wind hammered at us until I could barely see to drive. In Springdale, we made our way west and had no more than left the city limits, till we burst free from the storm into nice balmy weather. You might wonder why we took the chance. It’s simple. I’d cancelled once on this group earlier in the year and didn’t want to do so again. I was determined to get there.

The remainder of the trip went smoothly and we arrived at the library where this group meets once a month. They invite a speaker for each meeting, and many of them are writers I’ve known for years but seldom get to see, so a good time was had by all. By 8 o’clock we were on our way back home.

Since that Tuesday last week we’ve had stormy weather, with tornado and flood warnings every day. Needless to say, we’re getting weary of it. At the moment I’m writing on my laptop with the Internet turned off and my computer unplugged because we’re being hit with yet another storm. This is supposed to continue through Wednesday.

If the sun comes out Thursday, as predicted, we’ll all do a naked in the yard dance to celebrate. Meanwhile, I’m trying to stay busy enough to ignore what’s going on outside the windows. Not an easy feat.



Monday, April 18, 2011

BATTLE OF FAYETTEVILLE RE-CREATION

Saturday, April 16, the Washington County Historical Society held a ceremony honoring those who fought during this Civil War battle, and memorialized those who were killed.
I was invited to attend and act as a greeter. Most attendees came in period costumes. Young girls in their hoop skirts flitted about in youthful abandonment while their more sedate mothers and fathers dressed for the 1860s visited and talked to the Union and Confederate soldiers who were there for the ceremony. Storytellers entertained groups on the lawn prior to the ceremonies.

Colors were presented by Union soldiers and they posted the American flag at Headquarters House. Confederate soldiers gathered on the perimeter and because in the original battle they mistook a house across the street for Headquarters house, they fired a shot off in that direction. Musicians played violin and guitarand honored both sides with the proper songs of the day, including Dixie and His Truth is Marching on.

Soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard, recently returned from Afghanistan, were honored, and received a standing ovation.

Biscuits and gravy were served for breakfast that morning and at noon a dinner of beans and cornbread was offered. Being there was like stepping back into the past for a few hours.

Celebrations honoring the Civil War Sesquicentennial will continue in Arkansas as many battles and skirmishes bloodied our soil during those brutal four years. Two of the larger battles took place at Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge. Bushwhackers from both sides rode rampant over the state, destroyed private property and killed those who took the wrong side. The state was split prior to secession and sent men into battle against each more than any other except Missouri.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A VISIT TO BAPTIST FORD CHURCH


Taking on too much as a senior citizen can sometimes cause life to stall out. Like an old car that sputters and dies pulling a steep hill, I often run out of the energy to complete tasks on time. For those readers who follow my blog, I apologize for not posting for a couple of weeks. A new project is in the works and taking a lot of my time. I'll write more about it later, or see my other blog.

I want to tell you about my recent visit to Baptist Ford Church. As a writer of regional fiction, I often look for unusual places to promote my books. In this case, visiting the church came about when an avid reader who has been the direct cause of many book sales, called and said her pastor had been wanting one of my books for a long time. Could she just pick up a few and take them to the Wednesday night services for some folks who wanted them. My reply was, of course she could, but would she like me to drop in before the service and sign copies? She cried out, you'd do that? Yes, please.

A little background on Baptist Ford Church. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Boston Mountains: Lost in the Ozarks:

"Beginning in 1830, nondenominational church meetings were held in a log building on this site. In the Sheriff’s census of that year, there were 233 heads of household in all of Washington
County. Many of the earliest settlers moved in where Greenland would one day grow years in the future. There is a cemetery next to Baptist Ford church where services are held today. The view approaching from the south on a coil of the old highway is picture postcard perfect.

"In the original community of Baptist Ford, there were seven members, four men and three women. Thirty years later, a final entry was made in the church records. It reads December 1, 1860. In the ensuing gap three large black letters are penned: W A R.

"In reading them, I hear the cannons’ roar, the thundering march of soldiers, the screams of the dying as the state was split apart by a dreadful civil war. The years 1861 through 1865, struck silent the strains of hymns and the laughter of children. During those dreadful times, the original log building was destroyed, as war knows no boundaries. Its destruction left only the indomitable will of the people who continued to gather in their homes to worship."

And it was to this church, sitting on the banks of the West Fork of the White River just south of Greenland, that I traveled last Wednesday evening. In order to reach the church today, it's necessary to leave the new stretch of four-lane highway 71 and take the old abandoned concrete slabbed narrow two-lane off toward the peaceful church and cemetery where services continue to be held today over 175 years after they first began.

Inside the church, a few folks had gathered early, as is their custom, to visit a while before services take up. Children play and giggle while grandmothers and mothers hasten to quiet them down. Near the altar the pastor runs the vacuum over the carpeted aisle. I'm made welcome and installed halfway up on a padded pew. Everyone who comes in spots me as a stranger and comes to welcome me and shake my hand, even before we're introduced.

I can't help but think of those original seven founders and what they would think of those who carry on their legacy so many years later.

It's quiet outside when I haul my books back to the car to leave. There's a fragrance of growing plants and moist soil in the air. The river flows like a whisper in the silent evening air and somewhere a redbird cries out cheerily. My grandmother always told me the cardinal is saying pretty boy, pretty boy, but its cries are varied and I stop to listen to each before climbing in my car for the journey home. I'll not soon forget this visit or the kind and friendly people I met there.