Archives for posts with tag: nature

Living in Oklahoma is not for sissies. True to the song, that wind does come sweepin’ and sometimes it’s a little strong. The beautiful plains probably handle it better than the cities. In Tulsa, we are in the corner of the state called “Green Country” by the tourist bureau. For those who think this state is flat and dry, you haven’t seen all of Oklahoma. We have gorgeous trees and hills in our lovely city.

This week, we had a blast of 70-80 mph winds that swept over our area, swirling and blowing until a large portion of the city was without power and nature had pruned our urban forest. It would break my heart to see the huge trees upended in yards all over the place, but I’ve been through it before and know that when all is cleaned up, we’ll look much the same around here with a few gaps in the sky. We have an abundance of trees. After our major ice storm a few years ago, the city looked like a war zone, but nature picks up and goes again. I’ve also learned from the National Parks, where they let nature take its course.

Getting around town has been slow as you dodge limbs in the streets and wait to go through intersections one at at time while the street lights are out. Poles are broken and leaning and crews are arriving from other states to help! I saw some poles propped up with a smaller pole bound to it.

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If there is anything good about storms like this, it’s the human spirit that shines through. Days without power make us more grateful for what we do have. After writing about Keeping Cool earlier this week, many had to live it in the humid heat following the storm. At least there are places to go with air conditioning and ice. Neighbors and families with power provide meals and cool places to sleep. We know not to open our refrigerators to keep them cold or put perishables in coolers with ice until the stores run out. Most people should have lanterns and flashlights around. Some have generators left over from ice storms.

One of the newest problems is charging all our devices. One of my daughters without power took all of her family’s electronics to her sister who had power to recharge…iPhones, iPads, iPods. We’re kind of an Apple family and need our gadgets to stay in touch.

On the other side, my brother doesn’t have power after three days and needs to be connected for health reasons. I check on him and make sure his phone works so he can get help if needed. I’m sure there are many like him. I have to wind through the back streets to get to him because he’s on a main street blocked by electric company workers trying to get everything going.

Power outages bring out our pioneer spirit, 21st century style. We’re not exactly without resources these days. Neighbors help neighbors move limbs until the hoards of trucks and men with chain saws flood the city. There’s money to be made following a storm.

I’ve been grateful to have power, although I lost my internet and cable for a couple of long periods. Hard to complain. In fact, it makes me laugh to think how deprived we can feel without things that are really luxuries. Reading books is back in style, by lanterns or on tablets, in a storm.

Here’s a sample of some of Tulsa’s damage this week. Multiply this times a bunch and you’ll see what we’re seeing…

Here are two trees uprooted onto the owner’s house…

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A tree broken across a fence…

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A multi-trunked tree uprooted onto the house and new car…

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and debris piled on the curbs for pick up…

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One of the major problems is our glorious oaks that die from the inside and look fine on the outside but are vulnerable to the winds…

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So, we’re picking up and going again. We survive wind, tornadoes (big wind), ice, heat and cold and floods here in Oklahoma. We’re OK.

This was my second trip to Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. The first was in the fall and I promised myself to come back in the spring. If you are in the area ever, go there for a spectacular collection of American art and for the beautiful 3.5 miles of trails. I don’t need to say much about it…I’ll share some pictures.

First, there’s the art. I fell in love with this glass sculpture as I walked by…

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There are so many treasures there. I love this little painting, “Haystacks,” by Martin Johnson Heade…

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And this Mary Cassett…

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And “Sun at the Wall” by Hans Hoffman…

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So much American history through art…

I wanted to be at Crystal Bridges when the dogwoods and redbuds were still blooming. I was afraid I was too late, but it was a perfect day. It was sunny and then cloudy, but a beautiful day.

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There were flowers blooming…

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My time on the trails was shorter than I wanted, but you can see how refreshing it is to be even a few steps into this calming, ethereal, blessing of nature…

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They even let you frame nature for your own work of art…

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A beautiful place, a treasure for all America to see. Always free to the public, thanks to Alice Walton and the WalMart Foundation…

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Next time, I promise to go back when I have the time to wander through all 3.5 miles of trails. And, visit the art along the way…

Monday, on the drive to Bentonville, Arkansas, my friend and I drove the scenic part of Highway 412 and then veered off onto country roads to take the back way into Bentonville, missing the interstate, traffic, consumer mess of a drive. It was a beautiful spring day to journey through pasturelands and little towns in Delaware County, named after the Delaware Indians who settled there, heading over to Arkansas. There were still some dogwoods and redbuds in bloom in the wooded areas along the way.

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I’m fascinated by the rural areas, being a city girl. Every state has them, so don’t go getting snobby on me. It’s just a different lifestyle, some things better than the city, some not so much. I always try to imagine life out here or what the area has been through in its history. You can see the stories in the buildings that are standing in various stages of decay. Sometimes you see a barn falling down right next to a new one. Or a house that has been deserted by its owners. You see them quite a lot, actually.

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Traveling with my iPad, I look up the history of towns as we go. You learn a lot reading about why people settled here and what happened to make it rise or fall. Most of the towns aren’t growing. It’s a tough way of life out here in the country. The little community, hard to call it a town, of Colcord, with a population of 819 used to call itself “Little Tulsa.” I’m not sure, even in its thriving days, where they got that unless none of them had ever been to Tulsa. I guess the town leaders hoped…

I think it was in Decatur where we saw the Iva Jane Peek Library. I take photos zipping by areas so pardon the mistakes sometimes. I’m constantly trying to capture something that catches my eye as we whiz by. I love the name of the place and wonder about Iva Jane and her influence. I haven’t found out who she was…yet!

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Chickens were and are a big industry in the area on into Arkansas, where we began to see Confederate flags every once in a while. If you look at a google map from above you see rows of thin silver roofs, chicken houses, all along the way. We saw a lot of deserted ones, but lots still active.

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Bentonville was known as Osage after the Osage Indians who came from Missouri to hunt the area for months at a time. Eventually, the white settlers took over and named the town after Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator who fought for Arkansas to become a state. At the turn of the century, being the 1900s, apples were the main resource, followed by chickens until WalMart was added to the mix to make that area a pretty bustling area for a town of 35,000. I’ve been to Bentonville from the interstate and from the backroads, which gives you a picture of the growth surrounding it. I like entering the back way best.

There’s something about traveling the backroads, seeing the honesty of it where you live your home is what you make it. You don’t have to worry about what the neighbors think about your well manicured lawn if you don’t want to. You can have it any way you want to. If you want to leave the remnants of the house or barn and build right next to it, you can. I kept thinking that some design person would drive through and make a nice offer for the reclaimed wood that they could sell to an upscale business or homeowner for an authentic look. I’m all for that and there’s a treasure trove out there for the clever and creative.

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The rural roads fuel my imagination, writing stories in my mind of the families who came before, the individuals who lived in tiny houses in the side of a hill. There are so many questions you have driving by.

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And then you just enjoy the wide open views of the sky,

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the rolling roads,

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and watching the variations of spring greens in the hills which will turn darker as the season goes on.

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When I see the skyline of the city in front of me, I know I’m heading home to bustling streets and landscaping and order of a sort. I’m comfortable with that life, but I love the spirit of the countryside I’ve traveled. Everyone should get off the main highways now and then. We’re in such a hurry and look at what we miss…

Today was sunny, cloudless blue sky, the wind that blew you hair felt good and was cool enough to keep you comfortable, not an Oklahoma gale. I took an afternoon walk by the river along with the human parade of Tulsans. There were walkers, runners, strollers, toddlers, children, bikers, dogs running or walking on leashes, skateboarders, wheelchairs, fishermen/women with poles and even a bowfisher, sunbathers, families, expectant families, grandparents, parents, couples, singles, and friends of every ethnicity, all out on a lovely spring Sunday. The parking lot was crowded and the people came in shifts all day long.

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What struck me today was how quiet it was. There were quiet conversations overheard, Canadian geese honking overhead, birds singing loudly, but nothing was really loud. Usually, I hear the thud of runners, the hum of bicycle wheels, more talking, more laughing. Nothing was wrong, but it was noticeably quieter. People smiled or nodded if you looked their way, but everyone seemed a little more inward today.

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It’s been a rough week if you stay glued to the television news. And all of us are a little broken just from everyday life. Our bodies and/or our souls have little, or big, nicks taken out of them from personal experiences, illness, grief, heartache, worry, stress. It’s part of being human. Even if you’re happy and content, you might need an extra boost to keep that going.

Today was a healing day. You can’t breathe that clean, fresh after rains air without feeling a little cleaner inside. Even in an urban area, walking by water helps you feel part of a stream of life. I didn’t feel alone walking, I felt part of that lovely parade of people. We were all connected to the beautiful day we were experiencing and we were all soaking up the beauty.

Sunday is a day of rest and regrouping before people start another work or school week. Our lives in the city are all geared that way, even if you’re retired. All these people returned home refreshed, feeling better and stronger, ready for whatever. A beautiful day is always a gift. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Sometimes I feel like getting out of the city and driving around the countryside.  I get that from my mother.  And my father.  And my husband.

Yesterday was one of those days that I couldn’t sit inside and I’d already walked and it was probably the last day of fall color with the windy & rainy weekend predicted.  All the beautiful leaves will be in piles on the ground in a few days.  So, I took off looking for the hills of color.  I sat a a stop light deciding which way to go and headed east, towards Arkansas, navigating the horrible construction on I-244 to get to Hwy 412, one of the nicest drives anywhere.  At first I thought I’d missed the color, but then I hit the hills and all the colors shining in the glorious sunshine.  Looking at the map, I realized it wasn’t that much further to Bentonville and Crystal Bridges, so I headed that way.  I’d been wanting to do this anyway.

There is something about driving on a beautiful day that clears everything out of your head and floods your brain with fresh thoughts.  That’s easier now that I’m retired and don’t have to push all the work responsibilities aside in order to enjoy what I’m seeing.  Hwy 412 meanders around hills in a leisurely way, even on the turnpike route.

I had seen the pictures of Crystal Bridges, but it still doesn’t prepare you for the first view.  It’s in a neighborhood, a lovely neighborhood built up by the WalMart influence on the community.  It doesn’t have a big entrance and you could miss it if you weren’t looking for it.  You’re in town and in the woods at the same time on this 140 acre gift to the people.  On another note, after doing fundraising for a museum for the past 7 years, it’s a dream to start out with an $800 million endowment.  Admission is free, thanks to WalMart.

I’ll summarize my views quickly with photos, but you can get details at http://www.crystalbridges.org.

Coming up to the main entrance, I was stunned by the silver tree, “Yield,” shining in the sun.  Incredibly mesmerizing…

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I was on the top level, so my first view of the museum was looking down and I wasn’t prepared for how beautifully it is situated in the location, down in the valley.  The building itself is a work of art that is appreciated from every angle.

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Inside museum

The collection is a fabulous selection of American art from Revolutionary times through today.  I found works by many of my favorites and some new ones that I will be glad to revisit at any time.  You’re sure to love many, many pieces and find your own favorites.  Moran, Norman Rockwell, Mary Cassatt, Calder, Warhol, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Hart Benton, Bierstadt, John Singer Sargent, George Innes, Rothko, and so many others.

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CALDER SCULPTURE

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I loved the little reading rooms sprinkled in the galleries with stacks and shelves of books so you could sit down and read more as your curiosity made you want to learn more now!

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The restaurant is lovely and bar area is beautiful and a nice place to take a rest.  The museum shop is a gem…spoken by someone who owned a gift shop and worked around a museum shop.

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But, I was there to enjoy the fall day and took to the Rock Ledge Trail that wound above the museum and the lawn.  There are six trails for over 3 miles.  I didn’t get as far as I would have like because I was losing daylight to get home, but it is stunning.  I would walk there every day if I lived in the area.  You could do a different trail and see something new all the time.  I can’t wait to see it in the other seasons.  Lovely…

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Cardinal in the woods

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My favorite thing was the frame on the trail.  Isn’t this a simple, great idea?  I bet a million people have posed in that frame, but I love the scene itself.  You feel like you are a painter…or a real photographer…beautiful!

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I didn’t get enough time for all I wanted to do, but I’ll be back many times for sure.  Thank you, Alice Walton!  What an incredible gift you have given for all to enjoy.