One of my favorite things to do when I go home to northeast Arkansas is to spend time walking around the farm. Timing is the secret to a successful farm walk. The ideal spring farm walk must be wedged between monsoon-like floods, the beginning of mosquito season, winds roaring in from Midland, Texas, Oz-ish tornadoes, and blistering hot sun.
Last week, I managed one farm walk before the rain moved in, unpacked its bags, and stayed for a long weekend. One good walk is enough to re-set my body head to toe. One good walk clears my mind of clutter and allows important things to filter back in. One farm walk and all is well. Everything is as it’s meant to be.
Wanna walk with me? Come along and I’ll include a tour through the eyes of Gracie Lee. (Who’s Gracie Lee? Click HERE.)
Ready, set, and…
hold on to your hat | brain | wig | britches. East to west, the wind is tough blowing across the field as we walk by the irrigation pump. Bonus! Wind adds extra weight resistance and double the exercise.
There’s permanency here. As I walk I always think about Daddy and Papa Creecy. They drove down the turnrows surrounding these fields. Daddy could often be seen walking between rows with hoe in hand. If he spied even a blade of Johnsongrass waving mid-field, that weed’s time was limited.
A few months ago, I began my Arkansas Master Naturalist training. (I’ll graduate soon.) Let me tell you, being a master naturalist in northwest Arkansas is different from being a naturalist in northeast Arkansas. Everything is different—the trees, birds, especially the terrain. Even the water found in the Arkansas delta supports a different sort of life. During our walk, we won’t find clear-running streams to wade. Even so, the ditches around our farm fascinate me.
The corner (above) at the back of this field is one of my favorite spots. A beaver makes his home there (to the dismay of farmers who prefer water to flow). Although you can’t spot them in the picture, the trees are filled with red-winged blackbirds. Gracie Lee spent lots of time on this ditch bank thinking about big picture issues. She may have buried something here, too.
How high’s the water, Momma? Not that long ago, it was up to a very definite water line (below). See the twigs and sticks? We could build a raft and float down the Mississippi River a la Huck Finn.
Our field is freshly planted with rice. In the distance, the Bat Cave holds all the memories. I grew up there. It’s Gracie Lee’s home, too. (The Man in the Gray House lived just down the road.) If you don’t know the origin of Bat Cave, click HERE.
During my childhood, this field was likely planted in soybeans. Sometimes cotton. Gracie Lee remembers cotton. She kept an eye on the bolls and couldn’t wait for them to burst open. Other than Christmas, harvest was the best season of the year. Her Daddy said it was the only time of year money flowed into the bank instead of out. In a good year, of course. We don’t like to talk about the bad years.
Gracie and her sister, Abby, loved to make mud pies. When the soil had baked just right, they pried a section loose and spread mud along the top like chocolate icing. Left to dry in the sun, maybe on the ditch bank, later it was the center of their afternoon tea party held under the mimosa tree.
The edge of the field just beyond the gas tank? If you read The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, this is the site of the short-lived garden Ann Abbott planted with Gracie and Abby. We (as in Momma, Staci, and I) may still be bitter about that debacle. Yes, it really happened much as Gracie described it.
If our farm walk lasts long enough, we may see a stunning sunset. Dusk comes quickly on the farm.
Two days later, we have a lake view. Not quite as deep as the backyard flood Gracie and Abby discovered one morning, but deep enough to delay further farm walks for a few days.
That’s Savage Crossing (Keiser) in the distance.
Maybe next time I’ll take you on an inside Bat Cave tour of Gracie Lee’s favorite hiding places.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Buy here: ACCIDENTAL SALVATION
Bebe Rexha – Meant to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line)