White pelicans

Pelicans are birds we usually associate with points south, such as Florida or Louisiana. Even though Arkansas is in the birds’ wintering area, it’s still exciting to see them. Here, white pelicans dot the Arkansas River between Ozark and Altus, the epicenter of the state’s wine country. (Drive-by iPhone photo taken Feb. 17.)

White pelicans on the Arkansas River near Altus.
PELICANS — White pelicans on the Arkansas River near Altus.

Round bales on a gray day

The day before Labor Day was stormy in western Arkansas and as we headed home from the northwest corner of the state, drove through some fierce cells.  The sky began brightening from the west as we sped along U.S. 64 east of Altus.  I liked the muted colors, change in sky color from left to right and impressionistic motion blur in the foreground in this shot.

Round hay bales in a pasture


Just because it’s Sunday

Below is a view from St. Mary’s Church in Altus, the heart of Arkansas’ wine country. This image  — poorly taken in trying out the iPhone’s panorama function — is looking south.

In the 19th century, German, Swiss and Italian Catholics immigrated to Arkansas, spurred by religious persecution at home, and encouraged by the acres of rich  farmland being offered by railroad companies serving the Arkansas River Valley. The railroads figured if they could bring in farmers, the farmers would need a way to get their crops to market, and their friendly, neighborhood railroad would be the way to go.

Arkansas’ wine industry grew out of the immigrants’ need for sacramental wine for Mass. Today there are  commercial wineries, not only in the Ouachitas, but also north in the Ozark mountains.

ALTUS -- Altus, Ark., looking from the parking lot of St. Mary's church.
ALTUS — Altus, Ark., looking from the parking lot of St. Mary’s church.