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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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


By 1840 Elks were extinct in the Ozarks.
Between 1981 and 1986 the Game and Fish Commission transported 112 elk from the Rocky Mountains.
Today elk thrive here once again.

      Elk graze throughout Boxely Valley, walking slowly, eating constantly, and attracted tourist from all over the east coast. Mini vans, Jeeps, and RVs line up along the roadside, often blocking the highway’s lane. They take pictures rapidly from out their open window, as if the magnificent creatures might bound off into the forest at any moment. The single male of the herd, with his wide rack, receives the most attention.
      Day after day, the elk just stand there, staring at the tourist, the real spectacle to the viewed, the non-native, invasive animal. I see elk at least once a week. It is nothing special. They don't live exciting lives. Rarely do you see an elk bound, jump, or even trot. Like cows, they graze. I just can't see all awe and wonder.
      Nevertheless, while driving down a dirt road the other day, I came upon a herd of elk bulls. An alpha bull claims a harem of female cows. It is the alpha bull in the valley, parading like a pimp proud. Other bulls are cast aside, undesired and unwanted. They ban together to create a herd of bachelors.
      This particular herd stood blocking the road ahead, staring at the truck with awe but without fear. I edged closer. An old bull closest to me walked into the woods. The other docile males followed. Watching the way they strut with their heavy head held high, I gained admiration and respect. These gentle giants managed to maneuver through the under bush with absolute grace. Each step was taken with precision, like a ballerina on her toes. They stared as my truck passed by slowing. I leaned out the window, snapping pictures. I saw my reflection in their eyes, a tourist marveling at simple creatures' everyday lives.
Yet, I also saw the wonder and awe.   

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