I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.
I drove south towards Little Rock this morning. I watched the sun rise over the valley below the rolling hills that descends between the peaks of the Boston Mountains and the valleys of Dardanelle Lake. The stark contrast between the northern and southern parts of Arkansas is what makes the Ozarks unique. Up on the mountain, at Owls' Knob, ferns line the hollers and huge oak trees stand tall on the hills and every step is a hike, up or down. But in southern Arkansas the land is flat and soft. Crops cover the plains and marshes fill in the wild gullies in between. Coming out of the mountains, I always feel exposed. Like the trees had protected my privacy and now I stand naked before the world.
The Arkansas River outside Little Rock
Then I approach the city. Little Rock has that big city vibe, unlike other small towns I frequent to buy groceries, it is filled with fast Mustangs, slow Smart-Cars, rude semi-trucks (which are anything but semi), and rage. Even when I manage to ignore the road rage, the signs confuse me. Being that I am from the countryside, I do not know the language of signs. Cities are so full of signs, telling you where to shop, what to think, where to go, and, oh yeah..., what exit is yours to follow. I am lost, even if I am on the right track. It seems as though my confusion only complicates the situation. A timid, bewildered driver is pushed aside and laughed at. I drive in the city like a gangster would identify Wild Comfery.