Petit Jean Mountain


Petit Jean Mountain
Petit Jean Mountain


This past weekend I attended a wedding on Petit Jean Mountain. Petit Jean is a nearby state park named for a young French girl who disguised herself as a cabin boy to accompany her sweetheart to America in the 1700’s. While exploring the Arkansas River, she died and was buried on a mountain later named for her.  You can visit her (supposed) grave site which offers a spectacular view of the river and surrounding valley.



The park boasts a lovely waterfall, Cedar Falls, an historic lodge, Mather Lodge, a restaurant, many lovely campsites, swimming pool, tennis courts, and several hiking trails. We love to hike. The kids’ favorite is the Rock House Cave Trail, which leads to a cave with Indian paintings on the walls and ceiling. It also passes over some neat rock formations called the Turtle Rocks due to their resemblance to a turtle’s shell. Personally, I like the 7 Hollows Trail, but it was severely damaged by a fire several years ago.  While it’s sad to reflect on the beauty that was, the regrowth is amazing to watch. Mother Nature is wondrous in her ability to regenerate herself.

The wedding took place at Lake Bailey on top of the mountain, with the reception in the adjacent rec center. The lake and the fall foliage provided a lovely backdrop to the even lovelier young couple pledging their lives to one another. I hope they are always as happy as they were that day.


Life is Good

President Bush spoke last night about the state of the economy and the planned $700 billion government bailout of the financial markets. As a very amateur investor and a minor follower of politics, I have been watching the recent financial woes of our country with as much disgust and apprehension as most Americans. I am disgusted by the greed of bankers and financial “experts” who should have known better, and yet I feel little sympathy for people making $50 grand a year who bought $400,000 homes. Fear, anger, confusion, distrust, worry are the emotions swirling through the towns and cities of America, and I am not immune to them.

And yet, life goes on. The amazing ruby-throated hummingbirds still chase each other around my feeders, and cardinals and warblers wake me each morning. The mist in the valley still shines like silver in the early morning light, and the sunrise still inspires. My children still chatter constantly about seemingly inane matters which are of utmost importance to them. My cat warms my lap as I watch my favorite shows. The sun is warm, the sky is blue, and we’re on track to have one of the prettiest autumns we’ve had in a long time.  The future is uncertain, and perhaps a bit scary, but don’t forget that money isn’t everything. There is still beauty and joy to be found in today.  



My backyard . . .

Petit Jean Mountain in the background

Petit Jean Mountain in the background

Not a Mile from Home

How far do you live from your childhood home? I moved from upstate New York to Arkansas when I was nine years old. Most of my family still lives in NY, and when I was a kid, I always thought I would go back there to live when I grew up. When I spoke of home, I was always referring to New York. We would go back home to visit my grandparents, to see my aunts, uncles and cousins. Home was where Mother was buried.

The differences between my old home and my new home were many. The plump, green spruce trees that dot the New York countryside were replaced with scraggly, slightly rusty cedars.  Instead of rich dark soil, the ground here is hard red clay.  Three feet of snow up home was just a good dusting, so the first time an inch of Arkansas snow sent me home from school early was mindboggling. The ubiquitous dairy farms of New York were replaced with the ubiquitous chicken farms of Arkansas.

I remember the kids in Mrs. Wald’s 4th grade class asking me to say words like ‘hang’ and ‘song’ so they could marvel at my accent, and my first boyfriend’s mom asking me not to talk so fast because she couldn’t understand me. I couldn’t understand how pin and pen were homonyms, but somehow these people’s strange accents made it so.

As the years passed, I became accustomed to life in Arkansas.  I adopted the local habits and speech, and even began to think of myself as a Southerner. I still thought of New York as home, though I came to realize, not unhappily, that my life would keep me here. When I moved to my house on the bluff overlooking the valley, I was surprised to realize that I could see my childhood home just below. As a matter of fact, it’s less than a mile from here as the crow flies. That’s when I understood that I was home, and home is where I will stay.