A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in Heber Springs, Arkansas. It was my first visit to this charming town in the central part of the state. Not sure how that’s even possible.
When I visit a new place, especially if I’m traveling alone, I explore. I search for the library and I seek out the old historic cemetery because to me, cemeteries are a way to connect to the town. I walk the downtown area to see the architecture. Heber Springs gets a big checkmark for having a courthouse in the middle of the town square. Yay!
Walking is the best way to discover a place. Driving through, you miss all the things.
Y’all, Jitterbug Coffee House was fantastic!
After getting my green tea fix, I searched for the lake. I knew Greers Ferry was close by because I could see Sugarloaf Mountain from my hotel room (NOT to sound like Sarah Palin), The truth is, I can’t not see the lake, being a lake person and all.
I took a road that seemed promising, and yes, I can feel when a road leads to water. Clues point the way. Road names end in Bay or Cove or View. A bait stand or boat repair business is a good indicator, too.
A sign for a dock construction company led me meandering down a road through the trees. I found water but not a lake. I walked to the edge of The Little Red River and felt truly in awe of the stunning landscape and the surprises Arkansas holds. The air was at least ten degrees cooler. A critter rustled the leaves behind me and I thought about how no one in the world knew where I was at that moment. There’s something satisfying in that.
And then I sent my Momma a text just in case.
Before heading back to town, I followed the road a bit further and admired the homes tucked away all quiet and hidden near the riverbank. A man was busy planting his garden. He waved to me and I wondered what it must be like to live in such solitude. I think I would like it.
On the way back to my hotel, I noticed a sign for Sugarloaf Folklore Society outside a building that looked much like the old church I attended as a girl. I pulled into the gravel lot because how could I not with a sign that said Live County Music & Dancing on Friday at 7:00.
And it was Friday night at 7:00.
While the band (also called Sugarloaf) tuned up, I was welcomed in and introduced around by the people there who greeted me like a celebrity simply because I was a visitor. By the time the first dance started, my dance card had a wait list.
Blurry, of course, because we were dancing… (My boots were in my hotel room!)
Flashback: As a Baylor freshman, we had a Friday night ritual of driving to the Fraternal Hall in West, Texas to country-western dance (which in Texas is called kicker dancing). There’s nothing like line dancing to the Cotton-Eye Joe in Texas. End of Flashback.
Well. Line dancing, for whatever reason, is NOT ALLOWED at the Sugarloaf Dance Hall and I never quite understood why. No matter. There was plenty of dancing to be had. I even learned to do the East Coast Swing. At one point I had to hide out in the bathroom to catch my breath. Not kidding.
On the way back to my hotel room, I stopped at Pizza Pie-Zazz for soup because the front desk clerk told me they had the best soup ever. And they did! I had turnip green soup and it was seriously delicious. I even had a refill. Tell me, where except small town southern U.S.A. does your waitress offer you a soup refill? (And p.s. the owner, Todd Slayton, is also Mayor of nearby Pangburn. He was super personable, bought one of my books, and promised to review it.)
I felt a little sad when I pulled out of town the next morning. The people of Heber Springs completely swallowed me up and made me want to stay a while longer. But I hit the road feeling revived with my music cranked up. And my drive was idyllic.
I feel so at home on these rural country roads that lure me to slow down and stop for a while.
And I drove over the dam at Greers Ferry on the way out of town. Bonus.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Maren Morris, My Church