Winter’s snow descends,
Blanketing the world in white,
Silent beauty glows
Winter’s snow descends,
Blanketing the world in white,
Silent beauty glows
Way back in ancient times, sometime after the age of dinosaurs and before the invention of the computer and internet, and about the time I received an A+ grade for creative writing in 5th grade, I mean long, long-ago 65+ years ago, I raised chickens—laying hens, to be precise—and sold their eggs. Back then, I don’t remember ever thinking of chickens as being related to dinosaurs, much less the T-Rex. Although my brother did have a rather large and bad-tempered rooster with sharp, three-inch spurs that enjoyed making life miserable for any human who ventured out to the chicken yard and nests to gather eggs. He—the rooster, not my brother—I would have no trouble believing was related to the ancient dinosaur carnivores. No doubt this old rooster could recognize faces. He never attacked my father but came after me and my siblings at every opportunity and then boasted about it with exuberant strutting and crowing.
Enjoy these chicken facts.
If you are out and about in Fayetteville, Arkansas Memorial Day, consider attending this celebration at the Fayetteville National Cemetery:
Fayetteville National Cemetery will be conducting its annual Memorial Day Ceremony and invite the NWA community to attend.
Building from last year’s theme, “The Year of our Youth”, this year’s theme is “Recognizing Military Diversity” and highlights the many walks of life of our Veterans and their families. We will have a wreath-laying ceremony, special guest speakers, the Singing Men of Arkansas, the Ozark Highlander Pipe Band, and other guests as we honor those who served and the families who supported our Veterans.
The ceremony will be held on Monday, May 29th beginning at 10:00 am.
Please note that the road going south from MLK along Lt. Col Leroy Pond Ave up to National St / Dunn Ave will be blocked off to traffic.
For more information, please contact the cemetery at (479) 442-2566.
“A Creole beauty. Eccentric sisters and a black rose. One granny woman and a red button. Church suppers and bingo nights. A poet out of his element. Dreams of Mexico. The shadowy world of thoroughbred horse racing. If the Creek Don’t Rise is a collection of hard-used characters, tangled relationships, family angst, and fortitude. Step into the Deep South and experience the lives and hardships, hopes and dreams, of folk who have nothing except grit—and sometimes love—as their currency. Eighteen tales and six postcard vignettes, highlighted with artwork by Susan Raymond, make this collection a skillful and moving exploration of the commonplace, the hidden, and the unforgettable.
Review: “If the Creek Don’t Rise” is an appealing collection of Southern-based stories that captures the essence of the region. The author’s deep Southern roots lend an authentic voice to the tales woven within this book. Readers are transported into a raw, unfair world filled with relatable characters. The stories evoke vivid sensory experiences, allowing readers to feel, smell, and hear the surroundings while immersing themselves in the characters’ emotions. The honest and genuine dialogue transports readers back to a bygone era, reminiscent of conversations heard in front of a country store on a Saturday morning. The figurative language and storytelling of the South are a perfect fit, and Nancy Hartney skillfully addresses themes of race and gender. This collection is an interesting tapestry of Southern life, painted with diverse tales reflecting the soul of its people. It is an easy and enjoyable read, providing both entertainment and insights into life’s experiences. The characters come to life through the author’s keen understanding, making readers feel as if they truly know them and are present in every scene.
About the author:
According to her bio, Nancy Hartney writes short stories and, although she has lived in Texas and California, she is a daughter of the South loving its sweaty beauty and feeling grief about its dark underbelly.
She has contributed to Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, The Ocotillo Review, Arkansas Life, The Chronicle of the Horse, Sidelines, and the Horsemen’s Roundup. Her book reviews have appeared in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, motorcycle touring articles in American Iron, general interest pieces in Do South, Fayetteville Free Weekly, and Ozark Mountaineer. Her fiction has appeared in mid-west regional anthologies while Cactus Country, Frontier Tales, and Rough Country have featured her western tales. She writes for the Washington County Historical Journal Flashback (AR).
I spent some enjoyable time this weekend at my favorite local independent bookstore in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Pearl’s Books.
To read more about Pearl’s Books and the Independent Bookstore Day, I recommend you visit author Susan Holmes’ wonderful blog, Waterside Kennels Mystery Series. She has an interesting and informative post worth reading!
March is a month of transition, a time when winter starts to give way to spring in the Northern Hemisphere. March is typically drier than February where I live, which is good news for anyone who may have grown tired of winter’s rain and cold. It isn’t all clear sailing, however; March isn’t without its share of stormy weather. Not even close. Blustery winds can whip through the state, sometimes bringing thunder and lightning and the ever-present danger of destructive tornadoes along with them. And while the daffodil may mark the impending arrival of spring, the early blooming flowers can fall victim to late season wintry weather. In fact, in my 76 years, Mother Nature has never failed to drop either frost, hail, ice, or snow (and sometimes all four) on those early blooming beauties.
Despite that, or perhaps because of that, the daffodil remains a symbol of hope and renewal in March. The bright yellow flowers’ emergence from the ground is a welcome sight and a sure sign warmer weather is on the way, fingers crossed.
In the Northern Hemisphere where I live, March marks the return of the spring equinox. The month derives its name from the ancient Roman calendar and is named after the Roman god of war and Martius, the first month of the original Roman calendar. Then, it was a month of celebration and new beginnings. Today, March is still a time of new beginnings, as clocks are turned forward for daylight saving time. Many enjoy longer days and more time outdoors, although personally I’d prefer it if the practice of daylight savings time was cast aside.
Just as the arrival of the daffodils and the start of spring bring hope and renewal, March reminds us that change is inevitable and there’s always something to look forward to, no matter what the weather.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of my favorite places to visit. It is quirky, beautiful, full of unique artists, craftspeople, writers, entertainment venues, and natural scenery. It is a town built seemingly overnight in July 1879 following the discovery of what was then and is believed to be now curative powers in the waters of the many natural springs in the area.
In “A Fame Not Easily Forgotten”, researchers, historians, and authors June Westphal and Catharine Osterhage spent four years culling newspaper articles, historical records, written accounts, and rare photographs to compile a reasonable and accurate description of what many call the “City That Water Built.”
In mid-December 2015, just prior to my departure on a thirty-day winter holiday, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with June Westphal at her book signing at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. I was impressed by her extensive knowledge of the town, its inhabitants, and the entire region.
Here’s an excerpt from the Preface of A Fame Not Easily Forgotten: An Autobiography of Eureka Springs:
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a remarkable place—and utterly improbable. Why would anyone in the late 1800s, traveling on horseback or in wagons, traverse dirt paths through the steep Ozark Mountains to what must have seemed like the end of the earth? Why would they settle and build elaborate structures on sharp, rocky inclines?
The answer is, water. Pure, abundant spring water reported to have extraordinary curative properties—hope of healing was that powerful and that compelling. So, come they did. Build, they did. And while the water may not have reached expectations, the beauty and magic of the place captured the hearts of so many, they stayed, or kept returning. They still do…
The extensive research is well documented, includes many old pictures of the early days of expansion and growth of the town, and makes for interesting, informative, and entertaining reading. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the area and its history. You can order your own signed copy of this book from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.
Forget Black Friday sales events. On this blog it’s Jack Friday.
Actually, it’s a sales event that goes beyond just this Friday featuring the Kindle editions of both my short story collection and my Celtic murder mystery novel. They’re on sale now through December 5th for just $0.99 each. From December 6th through December 23rd they will be half their usual listed price.
Grab a copy for yourself or purchase for family and friends.
The Eureka Springs Historical Museum will host its 7th annual “Voices from Eureka’s Silent City” cemetery walking tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 15th, 16th, and 17th. Then again on Friday and Saturday, October 30th and 31st. The living history tours feature live actors in period costumes portraying early citizens of Eureka Springs.
This year, actors and guides will be presenting compelling stories of some of Eureka’s former leaders in service and philanthropy who now reside in the Silent City, the Eureka Springs City Cemetery: A WWI Army Colonel, a socialite, a prominent lawyer/mayor, a descendant of a Native American Chief, and an early proponent of baseball, among others.
I will be attending this event. It should be a fun, interesting experience.
For more information and pictures from previous walks take a jaunt over to Eureka Springs Historical Museum!
Here’s a re-blog of fellow Arkansas writer, Susan A. Holmes, on ‘Folklore In Fiction’ with an excerpt from her book Deadly Ties. She will be speaking at the Fayetteville, Arkansas Public Library, October 11th from 2 – 4 p.m. Event will include her presentation, questions and answers, meet and greet, and books sales and signings. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit with the author. More information on the presentation can be found here.
And now, the re-blog:
I’m an “up close and personal” kind of researcher. So when I’m working on my regional series, that means I’m often out in the hills, meeting people and listening to the stories that have been handed down, one generation to the next, keeping the old legends alive. The story of the Yokum Dollar is one of those legends that I heard on multiple occasions, with each storyteller claiming some connection with the families involved. I stayed true to the heart of the tale when writing the legend into my own book, while fictionalizing elements as needed to suit the plot. Here’s the excerpt from Deadly Ties:
….Maggie wandered among the exhibits, watching craftsmen make brooms and baskets, tapping her foot to the dulcimer music, and listening to the storytellers who had drawn a sizable crowd in the shade of tall oaks. She stopped to listen to a woman dressed in a style Maggie imagined was common among frontier women long ago. Sturdy boots peeked out from beneath the hem of her skirt, and the simple cotton blouse she wore looked homespun. Her steel gray hair was tucked beneath a bonnet.
“This here story has been handed down through my family ever since 1826,” the woman told the audience. “That’s about the time the first Yokum—that’d be Jamie Lee Yokum—settled along the big river herabouts. My family farmed the land down-river from the Yokum place, which is how I come to know this tale.”
“This land belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and they were good neighbors, always sharing what they had. They were good traders, too, and pretty near famous for their beautiful silver jewelry. They always had plenty of silver but nobody knew—’cept the Indians, of course—where it all came from. Some said it was from a silver mine, and some claimed it was Spanish silver, but nobody knew for sure.
“When the government decided they wanted the Indians’ land, the Yokums traded some of their wagons and supplies in exchange for information about the source of that silver. As the story goes, the Indians shared their secret with Jamie Lee. They told him where he might find some of that silver, and he told his brothers. Times being what they was, and money being about as hard to come by as an honest politician, the Yokums decided to use that silver and make their own coin. They minted their own dollars with that there silver. For years, people all over the Ozarks used the Yokum dollars as legal tender.”
The storyteller looked across the crowd. “Well, you can probably guess what happened next. The federal government didn’t take too kindly to somebody else making money. They didn’t like the competition, my granddaddy said.” There were chuckles and murmurs of agreement from some in the crowd.
“The federal agents confiscated all the Yokum dollars they could get their hands on. What they really wanted was the source of that silver, but Jamie Lee wouldn’t tell ‘em where to find it. After a while, the agents gave up and went back to Washington.”
The storyteller paused for a sip of lemonade. “It wasn’t long after that when Jamie Lee Yokum passed away. His two brothers died soon after, crossing the Rockies on their way out to California. Those men were the only ones who knew the Indians’ secret and they took that secret to their graves, but they did leave some clues in letters they’d written to their cousins. Over the years, a lot of people have searched high and low for that silver, but nobody’s ever found it. But who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to learn the truth about the Indian Silver Legend.”
Deadly Ties © 2013
To this day, people continue to search for the famed silver, with many a treasure hunter convinced a mine or cave does indeed exist somewhere in the hills. Some believe the answer lies near or under Beaver Lake in Arkansas while others argue the location is Table Rock Lake in Missouri. And so the legend lives on…