Category Archives: Springdale

Springdale & Brinkley Hold Lessons

This post evolved from a simple comparison of my geographical past. It grew to encompass parts of me and as such, is very personal. If you will pardon my generalizations and laziness toward exact writing, you might find something interesting.

I didn’t come to Springdale until the early 70s. My dad dragged our recently reconstituted family up here for the promise of a steady job, away from the geography which took the blame for so much of my dad’s heartache. His time in prison in Indiana and his involvement in the death of one of my cousins (unrelated to prison) had broken him of some of his desperate need to remain in his hometown. My dad had a brother here, my Uncle Buck, as well as a few cousins. Our move was prior to the miracle of the interstate reaching its tentacles up to Northwest Arkansas, so all trips to NWA were long, winding escapades. It seemed like we drove for days to reach the mountains of Springdale. I didn’t understand what a ‘hillbilly’ was. All I knew were the fields of Monroe County and the places my grandma and grandpa called home. Being with my dad was the last thing on my wish list.

Years take on a different meaning when I stop to consider that soon enough I will be exactly halfway between 1970 and 2070. Springdale and I both have changed immeasurably since I was young. The area of the Delta from which I came has continued a generally languid, shuffled march toward annihilation while NWA has become a beacon for commerce and lifestyle. It was sheer luck that my dad’s terrible fortune planted my feet here. And while the Delta was once the powerhouse of agriculture but found no clear footing to advance, Springdale and surrounding areas used agriculture as a springboard from which to dive into a diversified future. So many of us here live in houses situated on plots once adorned with grapes, apples, strawberries and all manner of other foods.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that the interstate running through Brinkley wasn’t always there, a fact which should have been immediately obvious. In Brinkley’s case, though, the interstate seems to have provided a convenient escape for the younger generation, as they ventured out and realized that the state had more to offer in other places. In Arkansas’ early history, roads were intensely local, often built to connect small town agricultural markets. For the affluent parts of the state, the interstate gave people and commerce alike the way to merge interests. While lifelong residents of Brinkley might wish to disagree, it is obvious that good roads shone a beacon toward better opportunities in other parts of the state. Brinkley could have been one of the jewels of this state, given its location. Even as I sometimes forget that I once loved the flatlands there, I will admit to its austere beauty.

I also forget that many parts of my early life are inexplicably entwined with those people who I deeply loved and those who were violent caricatures of real people. Geography mixes in my head and sometimes paints an unfair picture of those places, simply because the people walking across my stage were broken people. As we all do, I carry pieces of these broken people in my head, as such slivers are difficult to excise. I can hold the image of standing near a rice field near Brinkley, up to my ankles in mud, laughing; I can also imagine walking alongside a pungent Tontitown grape vine in August, my fingers cleverly stealing unwashed grapes and eating them like candies. I’m not sure which place or memory is more valid, but I do know that being surrounded by people with love in their hearts can make any geography welcoming, while immersion in the minds of lesser people will reduce the world’s brilliance regardless of where one’s feet might be. It’s how City View might have been a place of low resort for many, and a welcome mat for others.

Because of the reduced crucible I survived as a kid, on the one hand, there was so much about this town which remained unknown to me. My life was incredibly small. I could sense that it was an interesting place, though. My family moved over twenty times by the time I had reached adulthood. So many places around Springdale became familiar to me. In many ways, I feel as if this was advantageous to me, giving me a different perspective than someone who was lucky enough to remain fairly rooted in the same place growing up. In my family’s case, our ongoing moves concealed the array of abuse and violence camouflaged inside each respective new residence.

When I was in 2nd grade, I remember asking Mom what it was like attending school with black children in Monroe County. She looked at me like I had been hit with a shovel and said, “I didn’t. We were segregated.” (It was probably a lucky thing for them, though.) I wondered why Springdale was segregated, too, given that there were no black kids in class with me. How was I supposed to know that there were so few minorities living here? I was so naive. Even trying to understand that one of schoolyard buddies Danny was actually from Chile was beyond my comprehension. That’s how reduced my life was without education. Had I been born 100 years ago and remained in Monroe County, I could easily see myself in the role of unapologetic racist. My family would have raised me to believe that it was a certainty.

It’s funny now, my ignorance. In my early youth, I had never heard the word “segregated” except as a muttered curse. For most of the whites in the Delta, segregation was a word equated with government distrust. When I started learning history, it astonished me that there was such a short jump between our Civil War and WWII.

My dad took us back to Brinkley for my 3rd-grade year, to attempt to run a gas station in the no-man’s land on Highway 49 outside of Brinkley. While my home life was a slow-moving mess, school was fascinating. Just as I got acclimated to flat lands again, Dad’s failed business drove us back to Northwest Arkansas.

I remember my Uncle ___ saying that he was jealous of my dad, Bobby Dean because Springdale didn’t have ‘the plague’ of so many blacks. Other family members said the same and I only share this memory reluctantly. Perhaps it’s not wise or fair to generalize about my recollections of prejudice. On the other hand, they are my stories and as a sage once reminded us, perhaps people would behave more appropriately if they knew an observant writer was living amongst them. Truth be told, racism took a back seat when contrasted to the casual violence of my dad. I had a couple of god-fearing aunts and uncles who remind me that we should never be surprised by the sheer hatred some racists harbor in their hearts. One of the prevailing lessons they taught me was that religion could easily be twisted to justify and condone all manner of hate, all the while sitting behind a pearly-white smile and opened Bible. When I was young, I endured many a comment from them regarding my views on homosexuality, race, and language. When I grew up and realized that they were simply unadorned racists, their arguments dried up. The revisionists in life will insist they were great people and in many ways, they were the product of their times; in another way, though, they deliberately refused to change their minds, even as they paid pretense to the societal demands that they keep their boring and unimaginative racism mostly closeted.

Even though so much became second-hand to me, Springdale itself began to break away from its parochial roots; languages and color slowly entered and once inside sufficiently, kicked the door in and changed the fundamental nature of everything here. Even as I learned the town’s geography, it was already changing rapidly around me. In 1970, Springdale’s population was around 17,000. In 2015, it was on the high end of 77,000. (My hometown lost 1/2 of its population in the same time period, by comparison.) No road escaped the necessity of bulging outside of its small borders, and many signs became incomprehensible to the earlier residents. I was lucky enough to be present during many fits and tirades from Springdale residents insisting that hating the presence of another language wasn’t a sign of prejudice. They seem ignorant to almost everyone now, but the angry spew of their spittle was a sight to behold back in the day.

Springdale was akin to a debutante sent away to school in some exotic location; upon her return, she was unrecognizable as the same person. But almost everyone could look upon her and admire the changes. It’s almost impossible to turn back once someone or somewhere has caught a glimpse of the vastness of the world.

I’ve heard many people refer to Springdale as once being a Sundown Town. I don’t remember seeing such signage. On the other hand, I didn’t need to. My family provided all the exclusionary language anyone would ever need. Their distrust for minorities was amplified by our move to a white community. As strange as it is, I remember when my mom started working for Southwestern Bell (AT&T) in Fayetteville as an operator. She often came home, angrily ranting about blacks in her workplace. It was the same language she used in Monroe County except now she had a home base to retreat to, one which seemed to encourage her racism. Mom was an angry person most of her life, so the language was a symptom of her defect more than any commentary on her surroundings. Both my mom and dad fled back to Monroe County in the late 80s, after a long succession of disappointments.

Before I forget to mention it, my mom’s last job was as a custodian for Brinkley schools. The person who treated her the most kindly there was one of the black teachers there, proving that truth is stranger than fiction. Like so many racists, Mom’s racism tended to intensely situational. She couldn’t understand why I, as a white person, would ever stoop so low as to learn another language, much less love its differences. Her life was reduced by her prejudices.

The differences between the racism of Springdale and Brinkley were striking. It wasn’t until I was much older I surmised that Springdale didn’t need to be overtly racist. The whiteness of the faces walking the streets communicated a clear message as to the population. Springdale was a town waiting to be changed both monumentally and one person at a time, whether it saw the tidal wave approaching or not. It confused me how two places in the same state could be so markedly different, yet both have residents generally fixated on differences based on skin color. I’m generalizing of course, but I know that you understand the distinction I’m drawing. Most of Springdale’s residents weren’t prejudiced, of course, just unsure as to how to accommodate the changes to their towns. Racism tends to discolor a disproportionate number of people around it, giving it a larger circle than reality warrants. This circle of influence sometimes gives the wrong impression of tolerance toward prejudice and many of those practicing it become adept at hiding under its umbrella.

It’s strange to me that both Springdale and Brinkley had so much to build upon. Frankly, Brinkley had the advantage when I was young, and if a few visionaries had the temerity to act upon it, it would be flourishing now. Instead, Northwest Arkansas seized these opportunities.

Against the backdrop of economy and money, Springdale acquired deep populations of Latinos, Marshallese, and other minorities. Most of us who were paying attention and curious were amazed at the changes brought to us by different cultures. Since I’m naturally curious, I loved the overlap of cultures and couldn’t wait for it to become entrenched. Others, though, peered at it through narrowly-turned blinds, wondering if the small town they grew up in was gone forever. Thankfully, the answer was ‘yes.’ Change brought a greater viability to our town. The overlaps of other culture became so large that in many cases people felt conflicted about which culture was their primary one. That is the ‘melting’ we claim to honor as a country. The melting works much better when it is in both directions, with those who were here first welcoming the inevitable changes brought by new faces.

The same didn’t happen for Brinkley, despite it attempting a few rebrandings. The remaining base shifted out from under when it lost its Wal-Mart. People continued to flee, even if meant they’d be exposed to a greater variety of cultures elsewhere. For those who left, many have an idealized memory of what it once was. The truth, though, is that it was never really that place. People voted with their feet and the results are the only conclusion which needs no clarification. One day, hopefully, Brinkley will discern a path toward revitalization but all such paths are dead ends without new faces and new opportunities.

Springdale, albeit with a few hiccups still to come, is a place which can be a foundation for everyone to look back upon and feel a sense of community. It defies an easy definition, precisely because other groups came here to stay.

 

 

 

 

Early Morning Delights

To all those who followed me later on the trails, you’re welcome. I didn’t do the spider dance voluntarily but I did it repeatedly and with great enthusiasm on the dark trails, most of which was carpeted with a dank tapestry of leaves from last night’s torrential rains. I’m assuming the spider dance counts toward one’s cardiovascular regimen. There were 2 or 3 spots where the fallen leaves hid the dimly-defined edges of the trail. These were particularly laden with spider webs. Some of these spiders are enormous and when they have the time to do their work without interruption, their webs become as thick as my grandma’s favorite thread.
 
The only other vehicle or person I encountered the entire length of my walk was a patrol car exiting an access road leading to a school as if the officer had returned to brush up on his ABCs. (‘A’ is for arrest, ‘B’ is for breaking and entering…) Had the officer seen me a few minutes before, doing my spider web electrocution dance, he or she might have stopped to ask if me I was alright. As it was, I was probably just a silhouette in the eerie darkness.
 
I parked my car at was once Silent Grove Church. The church has long disbanded, once a hub for fervent locals to share their community gospel. One late night, over 3 decades ago, I parked my Dodge Fury there and ran for miles, so many that I could barely lift my legs when I finished. This was before the road was anything except a serpentine and narrow road which was sparsely populated before Springdale had aspirations of even reaching its municipal tentacles to those places on the periphery of anything substantial. The thought of a trail access in that area would have been ridiculed by everyone except the most visionary back in those days. When I finished my run, I laid across the hood of my car and somehow fell asleep, as it was probably 4 a.m. or later on that night so many years ago. The next morning, the sound of a honk and a school bus door swishing open awakened me. I’m sure I was quite a sight to the kids on the bus; the driver certainly was wondering whether I was dead, drunk, or dead drunk.
 
I recognize my privilege. I have the good health to walk, a car which gets me to these new places, and energy leftover from working, and a city which grew out its parochial insistence toward maintaining the imaginary “what-once-was.” These trails and places would not have been possible if those who demanded allegiance to the past had been the most effective voices.
 
Now that I’m older, I find myself laughing at the ease with which I could fall asleep in strange places. (Before my back began to groan like a dissatisfied older lady waiting at the store register, her 16 items stacks neatly on the counter, waiting for her impatient turn to question the cashier about each and every item.) As we age, almost all of us demand our nightly rituals, with each pillow fluffed just so, the fan at the exact speed to comfort us, and our world categorized around us. Our affluence estranges us to adventure.
 
This morning, there was no meteor shower nor anything particularly eventful – just an array of small delights: the sliver of a slowly rising crescent moon on the horizon, the rush of the creek underneath, an immense tree fallen next to the bridge, probably having surrendered to the insurmountable push of water yesterday evening, the feeling or smooth and yet uncertain footing across an infinite number of fallen leaves. The air was so heavy with moisture that I could trick myself into believing that it was pushing back against me as I walked.
 
Out there in the darkness, there was an absence of bickering saltines, no one making fatuous arguments regarding predatory relics in our evolving midst, no pointing fingers of superiority toward other beliefs. Just the methodical hum of a billion insects and feet moving forward, step, step, step. I walked much further than I intended to. The miles, though, seemed to accumulate without notice.
 
Alone, with my thoughts, wondering and with wonder.

Confederate Stones, Withering Trees, and Change

Observing the long view of history and social forces:

“A city or town isn’t the past, who founded it, or who once lived here. It’s who is here now and the children they’ll have. Those who were here first have no greater say in its disposition than those who moved here to be one of us. It’s one of the most overlooked lessons of history. A family changes as it accepts new members and towns can be no different. Roots grow into trees and those trees must adapt to the changing environment or wither to become the firewood for those who need it.

You can fight change with all your vigor or you can understand that all things perish, even ones carved in immortal stone. The things that we hold dear are not things at all. They are flesh and blood, love and hope, compassion and intellect. Those things which do not advance us and bind us together must be willingly set aside in favor of the great invisible.

Nostalgia for the way things were is the most human of traits. But we must always remember that we share these fields and places with those who look upon us with new eyes. Even our children will one day peer back with wonder at the things we valued over one another as people. As we are renewed, so too must our attitudes flourish, blossom and envelop those who do not share our history and culture.”

Peace

Meteor Shower Surprise in Springdale

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Thanks again, Springdale. This morning, I walked along the Razorback Greenway on the north side of Backus, near AQ. It was a fortuitous choice.

I was incredibly lucky because not only did I have the entire trail to myself again this morning, but as I walked north, a portion of the Perseid Meteor shower put on a show for me. Frankly, I had forgotten about the possibility of seeing anything. As I reached one of the beautiful steel bridges crossing Spring Creek, the trees relented and the sky opened above me and I stopped and stared as a meteor slashed across above me. The moon was bright and behind me, but no other lights invaded the wide spot afforded by the bridge and the creek beneath me. At 5 a.m., it was a delight to assume it would be the only meteor. Two more brilliant flashes arced across the sky above me. I had the urge to turn and say, “Did you SEE that?” but all the sane people were in bed, dreaming of their own fascinating sights.

So, it came to pass that I stood alone in the midst of nature, watching the sky drop burning reminders of the vastness of space. As I walked back, happy to have been witness to it, I saw a cat on the edge of the trail, walking ahead of me. I picked up my pace to see if it would spook. I turned on my flashlight app on my phone and lo and behold it was Pepé Le Pew, bright white-striped tail now raised in alarm. I stepped back so quickly I think I traveled back in time, laughing at the idea of me returning home smelling of skunk.

When I returned to my car, I walked over to the new pavilion next to the old Heathman building and sat watching as the edges of the sky slowly brightened. Two more bright meteor falls greeted me. I wondered how many early risers might have witnessed these with me. Then again, I remembered that the city of Springdale had built all these places solely for me, to be discovered in singular succession. I will hoard these memories.

As I headed back east, toward home and my disoriented cat, a deep fog rolled in from the hilly terrain, blanketing my approach. As I write this, everything seems to have been draped by the most diaphanous of gauze. Had I not stood in the middle of the beautiful nothing and witnessed the meteors, I would have thought I had dreamed it.

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Razorback Greenway Interactive

X Explore Springdale

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I’m not quite sure how to take it. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce revised the horrid waffle-fry logo and made a variant for the Springdale Advertising Commission: Explore Springdale. It is a similar logo, except the crazy waffle-fry base has been morphed into two overlapping Xs. I’m really going to miss seeing the waffle-fry logo so often because those seizures it elicited were becoming my best friend. I’d apologize to Springdale for mocking the design logo, except that it was done on purpose instead of as a result of a lost bet, as I had originally speculated.

Here’s the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/ExploreSpringdale/

Here’s the website: http://explorespringdale.com/

As a citizen of Springdale and the only resident legally named X, I give the double-X variant two left thumbs up. It’s phenomenally better as a logo than the crisscross polychromatic nightmare known as the waffle-fry.

Before I forget to say something useful, Explore Springdale is an informational page for tourism and goings-on in our fair city. These are the same folks who sent the last Mayor to Mars and also promised to give a free taco lunch to each resident of Springdale twice a year. I made those last two claims up but since I received a cease-to-exist letter, I can no longer pretend to be the spokesperson for any city official of Springdale. (They took my company car away from me, too.)

You can also follow Team Springdale: https://www.facebook.com/teamspringdale/, Downtown Springdale: https://www.facebook.com/DowntownSpringdale/, and Springdale Stories: https://www.facebook.com/Springdale-Stories-1763247583924…/…

Keeping up with all the activities here is quite a task, even if you have two secretaries like I do.

Springdale is no longer the town I grew up in, thank goodness. It’s better by almost every measure. As much as I chide the logo debacle, it’s looking spectacular out there these days.

PS: The obvious “X” in this logo is much appreciated. I keep joking that you are building me trails and new sights – just for me personally. This logo variant certainly adds evidence to my positive paranoia.

An Early Morning Walk in Springdale

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When I went to bed last night, I instinctively set both alarms. Dawn double-checked, both due to her infallible nervous condition and the fact that she has an allergic reaction to klaxons blaring at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning. (She also dislikes bagpipes and trumpet practice at that hour, too – a lesson I learned the hard way.)

Regardless, the feline alarm started meowing at 3:30 so any concerns about the alarm clock accidentally waking us were misguided. As I was practicing my dedication to the slumbering arts, I foolishly attempted to ignore the cat the first few times he attempted to rouse me from my horizontal and stuporous state. Ten minutes later, Güino upped his game by adding involuntary massage via cat paws to his repertoire. He’s been known to gnaw on exposed toes if necessary. One of these days I’m going to coat my toes in cayenne pepper to surprise him.

I decided to get up and take a walk earlier than I wanted to. I drove and parked near Emma Street in downtown Springdale. It was sublime. Again, I had the feeling that most of the inhabitants of the place had been whisked away by an unseen hand, leaving me the entire run of the place. The new Walter Turnbow park by Shiloh Square is spectacular enough during the day; seeing it without people before the sunrise was both eerie and interesting. I walked the trail in both directions, and only toward the end of my long walk did I meet any other souls on the dark trail. A motley group of youths was long-boarding the long incline toward the rear of the fire station. I could hear the crescendo of the wheels on the concrete long before I could discern their silhouettes approaching against the distant lights. Their laughter and jabber approached and just as quickly swept by, retreating to a whisper.

If you’ve never walked the trails in the dark, they are spectacular, especially the portion running near Bluff Cemetery. It never occurs to me to feel unsafe, either for the unlikely presence of uneven pavement or from nefarious passersby. French fries are a greater danger to me than walking in nocturnal environments could ever be.

I stopped and took my picture by the Chamber of Commerce sign facing Emma Street as my backdrop. The hideous logo adopted by Springdale a while back openly mocked me as I did, its alien crisscross of bizarre tic-tac-toe still reminding me that there is no accounting for taste. (Note: Springdale has done an amazing job these last few years, one worthy of frequent mention. The logo, however, is as inspirational as getting one’s face spritzed by underarm perspiration on a languid summer day.)

So far, each time I’ve chosen to walk somewhere different, I’ve found a little corner of Springdale that had been concealed to me. I appreciate all these people working to make these new places for me.

A Fine Morning

 

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The birds floated above me, even as the rain came and went, in five-second bursts, as if controlled by some intermittent unseen switch. It’s easy to imagine that the world is permanently comatose on such mornings. The cool air and light breeze make walking around almost divine, especially given that no day of work lay ahead of me on this day.

It stormed here last night. The winds on the east side of my neighborhood somehow were more atrocious than elsewhere; as I walked in the sparse light, I could see that one neighbor’s air conditioning unit was titled sideways, partially off its pad. Slats of someone’s forgotten IKEA-knockoff were scattered in the road as if tossed there by some angry Christmas-morning father.

There exists no scene more urban than dozens of scattered and windblown trash and recycle bins tossed around randomly. As people sleepily look outside, they are going to mildly curse and weigh the benefits of leaving them scattered or pick them up later, when their enthusiasm for the day might have brightened. Most will choose coffee and procrastination, the stuff by which American dreams are powered. Those lucky or unlucky enough to have teenagers in the house will vainly attempt to shout them into going outside and picking them up at some point in the morning.

 

PS: It was difficult for me to avoid adding a Godzilla or two to this picture.

The Monster Is Always There

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Do you want to read some words which will take you in a different direction?

No matter where I live, invariably there is a neighbor behind me with an apparent need to recreate the jungle and underbrush of some faraway land. It’s never the landscape featured in tourism photos, either. It’s the type of terrain which tends to appear in crime scene photos or as seen in a disturbing documentary about abducted people.

The house where I now live is new, but the subdivision it’s in abuts the rear of Green Acres Road in Springdale, a much older spur of Springdale.  Unlike the tv show with a similar name, this ‘Green Acres’ heyday has long since faded away, leaving the footprint but stealing the foot.

There are days when I peer through the extra bedroom window, where I just know that some fantastical monstrous face is going to return my curious gaze, eyes blazing with danger.

Or so I hope.

So far, though, my expectations of interesting mayhem have clashed with reality.

I have sun catchers in the window facing west. These power the illusion of things unseen coming in and out of focus as I watch. Most days, these prisms cast out intricate webs of color. As with most such things, though, it is precisely through this sort of misdirection that things also take advantage of in order to slink from the shadows.

Optimist that I am, though, I peer out and draw in a breath, especially on those majestic evenings when dusk approaches and the sky is already darkening from impending rain.

Many people may not be aware of this, but dusk cleverly invites such monsters and rain makes them feel welcome. It’s a truth that most of us as human, frail and subject to disconcerting biology, feel in our bones but rarely utter. Such utterances bring the reality into focus. Rain tends to cluster people inside, where human nature boils in a slow cauldron.

There are days in which I identify the monster as the reality, the one so hell-bent on hiding its kaleidoscope of truly deep shadows from me. I know that most of our universe is empty space, even as I reassure myself by leaning in against the horizontal slats of the blinds and looking more closely at the underbrush facing my house. It’s precisely the empty spaces and the dark where we cower with the most silent vigilance.

On such a day when the monster materializes, I think instead of drawing away from the rush, I will lean in for an embrace of the unknown, even if its salutation comes teeth first.

I can only wonder at spilled paint cans which not only surround you but hide in plain sight, waiting for eyes to focus on them.

Jim & His Produce Stand

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Looking for something good? Go see Jim at his produce stand over by Don Tyson Parkway. He’s there most days early and until 6 p.m. His place is near the intersection of Ivey and George Anderson. If you’re coming off Don Tyson, it’s toward the eastern end of Don Tyson Parkway, near Butterfield Coach. There’s a balloon-laden sign where George Anderson Road intersects to catch your eye. East Springdale is truly bereft of many of the benefits of the other side of our town, without a doubt, but I sometimes speculate that the new parkway was built just so that people could get to Jim’s with less delay.

This morning, when I pulled up, Jim was out, busily arranging his array of fruits of vegetables: okra, tomatoes, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, potatoes, and several other things. He guarantees the quality of his produce. His stand is deceptively spartan; trust me, you’ll find much more than you expected to when you walk up to see for yourself. It’s a trick older people seem to have mastered.

In case I forget to mention it, he also keeps some of the produce in a refrigerated trailer, as well as stocking it with both seeded and unseeded watermelon. In this day of political unrest, I recommend the seeded variety, both for the better taste and for the excuse to spit frequently.

Most people take a casual glance at me and don’t recognize the vegetable fiend that I am. You’d think 75% of my meals are comprised of pork rinds washed down with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. As I often boast, I look exactly like you’d imagine a bowling pro would look like, or the ‘before’ picture in the back of most magazines. Most of my problem is that I’m a lazy eater. Even though vegetables can’t run from me, they do require effort. (I often eat a can of spicy tomatoes directly from the can for breakfast, a fact which causes more than a few wrinkled brows.)

This morning was a fresh 65 degrees, the dew still on the grass, and the produce stand cloaked in the shade of the trees behind it. More importantly, though, the smell of ‘fresh’ slapped me. I wanted to run over and take a bite out of one of the tomatoes on the far end. (He had green tomatoes, too, which made my mouth water and remember Cotham’s and the other kitchens of good cooks.)

It’s not just the produce that’s good. It’s the moments you can stand and talk to the owner, a 78-year-old man with some interesting stories. He might tell you about that fateful day back in ’94 when a drunk driver slammed into him doing 80 mph; his face still carries the scars of the misery, but his voice and laughter erase any misgivings which might accompany them.

I admit I went a little crazy today with my selections. Jim ignored me and insisted that he help carry my purchases to the car. I left with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, corn on the cob (he has shucked and unshucked), and peaches. I stopped short of filling the car because it’s just two of us most days at my house, although I tend to eat for three myself, just in case the zombie plague hits us without warning – it never hurts to have a small blubber reserve for those contingencies.

But, if you’re looking for something beyond the store produce, beyond even the busy farmer’s markets in NWA, I recommend a visit to Jim’s. It’s hard for me to pinpoint how pleasing it is to drive up to his stand on an early Saturday morning, anticipating not only the delicious variety of food but also seeing the owner standing there, appreciating the words and the business.

PS: I always tip him, which catches him off-guard. Just tell him to pass it along as a gift to his grandson and he’ll smile as he accepts it.

 
You’ll leave with more than you arrived with, even if by some miracle you don’t buy any produce.

A Totally Untrue But Probable Story

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A quick creative home and garden story to brighten your day…

Last week, my friend Marilyn drove all the way from Oregon to Springdale, Arkansas to attend a h̶o̶t̶b̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶z̶i̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ work reunion for Springdale Hospital. (Oregon is allegedly a ‘state’ of the United States, although this information cannot be confirmed.)

Also, if it is so great there I can’t imagine why she’d leave, even for a vacation. 🙂

On the way back, a snowstorm stopped her cold in Wyoming. Marilyn became so enamored of the frigid temperatures and snow that she’s decided she doesn’t need a house or living room any longer – she’s going to take the idea of an outdoor space to a new level. Naysayers will warn that it’s dangerous to live outdoors or that it’s even more unsafe to reside in an ice-covered intersection. Marilyn didn’t get to her age without considerable risk to life and limb, which explains how she survived working with the crazy folks from the Springdale Hospital.

According to sources, it is possible that she will literally be stuck in Wyoming until August 2017. If you have dinner reservations with her, you should either cancel them or take a snowmobile to meet her there.

As you can see by the signs to both her left and right in this picture, her new space is conveniently located near parking lots, which will satisfy the exacting vehicular requirements of her husband, Larry.

Please wish her well in her new living space.