Memphis for Thanksgiving

The two-hour  drive to Memphis yielded some interesting sights. The most  interesting Thanksgiving day sighting  was a flock of wild turkeys on the roadside east of Biscoe. Must’ve been about 10 of them just doodling around on the verge between the bottomland and the roadbed of  U.S. 70.  Rather risky business on the biggest turkey-eating day of the year. (and did we have the camera ready? nooooo.)

Another great image was that of a large hawk sitting in the shoulder of I-240, the loop road around Memphis. It was just sitting there watching the holiday weekend traffic whiz by. (did we have the camera ready? noooooo.)

Still, we did manage to pull the camera out for some of what Memphis had to offer (with a little help from Photoshop and apologies to film purists.)

Memphis sklyline in black and white
The Memphis skyline captured from the Hernando de Soto bridge that carries I-40 across the Mississippi River.
I-40 bridge over the Mississippi.
One of the two beautiful steel arches that make up the Interstate 40 bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee.

World wide webs

Along U.S. 70, silken threads covered the fields, fences and utility poles between Forrest City and Brinkley, Ark. The low-riding autumn afternoon sun back-lit what seemed to be millions of miles of webbing. In addition, long threads with parachutes  or sails of silk thread drifted across the roads and lifted from the fields.


Webs waft in Brinkley
Webs waft over U.S. 70 in Brinkley.



Webs cover Brinkley
Webbing covers a large swath of eastern Arkansas.




UPDATE: Spirit of Christmas (near) Future


The tree has arrived in Washington! See:

Thanks for the update, Bill!

Our brother-in-law Bill, a former TV station photographer, is still  newsman through and through. While driving home from work last week, he spotted something unusual on the interstate in Memphis and maneuvered for a closer view. His instincts were right on. This was no ordinary wide load. This was the 2010 National Christmas Tree en route from Wyoming to its placement in the nation’s capitol. Oh — and kids, don’t try this at home.

Long bed truck carries the National Christmas tree to Washington. (iPhone photo)
Signatures of anyone who had anything to do with the National Christmas tree adorn the tarp protecting the tree en route to Washington, D.C. (iPhone photo)


Our patio heater has become the primary home for this wren, who goes about her business chatting away and conducting high performance climbs and dives in and around the deck.


Little wren on the deck rail
A wren peers out from a perch on the deck railing.



Arkansas autumn color

In late November, a series of rainy, windy cold fronts is stripping the colored foliage from the trees.  However, there’s still plenty of color and textures to be found in the Ouachitas (although the argument could be made that the gingko in the photo below is growing out of the West Gulf coastal plain).

Yellow Gingko leaves
Yellow gingko leaves contrasted against a clear blue sky.
Last fall, the unmown areas were full of these blue helmet flowers. This year their numbers were down, probably due to the summer's drought. Thanks, once again, to Jon Barry at the SW Research and Extension Center in Hope for his plant IDs.
Red cosmos
This cosmos, whose plant was topped by hungry deer, produced another flower months later.
Lichen clings to a vertical face of the native Stanley shale.
The recent wet spell has been a boon for the local fungus population.
Upturned mushroom
An overturned mushroom shows its earthy colors.
Contrails across the sky at sunset
Contrails criss-cross the evening sky.

Safety First II

The  University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s urban campus  offers terrific people watching as students and faculty cross tree-lined brick paths en route to the next class or the library or something sushi or Taco Bell-ish at the student union. The campus is in something of a tough, but improving, neighborhood. Being aware of your surroundings is always a good idea.

Campus police maintain visibility and call boxes are located across campus, all for safety’s sake. But sometimes, things just don’t work.

Out of order call box on UALR campus
A passing wit's scrawl offers sound advice on an out-of-order call box. The call box has since been fixed.

Gordon Lightfoot

The daily run on the treadmill offers ample time to really listen to music. One song that came up today was Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song for a Winter’s Night.”  Always liked the song, which is why it’s on the old school (big) Nanopod.  Today, I heard the song with fresh ears.

The arrangement is what hit me. Of course the sleighbells set the winter mood; but the strings sound like walls of champagne powder hoisted by the wind. The most interesting part of the arrangement though, are the horns. They start out in an almost call and response role. As the song progresses, the horns become the voice of the singer’s lover, echoing his lament. The horns’ line rises in grace and intensity through the last stanza as the narrator’s longing becomes more intense and intimate. Lightfoot’s voice and the horns intertwine as the evening in the song ends.

It’s the kind of ending that requires Kleenex; musical or real.

The song appears on Lightfoot’s 1967 album “The Way I Feel,” and also on the 1975 compilation, “Gord’s Gold.” A video for the song, created by a fan, is posted at (It was hard to find one that wasn’t a cover version.)

Mr. Lightfoot performed in Little Rock not long ago at Robinson Auditorium. It was a pleasure to hear him live.