The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for - Louis L'Amour
About Blog Title...
As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."
I am standing along the back waters of an Ozarks Mountain stream. It is a hot day but the heavy shade above provides some respite from the heat of the fierce summer sun. I am always on lookout for the black bear I have seen here before; surely he, too, will be seeking a shady refuge on a day such as this. It is here, on a previous visit, that I had seen the great white heron, so why not a bear today? At each step, I am wary of reptilian critters that make these waters their home. As I look upward, I am amazed by the height of the tall trees - the oaks with wide reaching arms, and the beeches, dressed in their best splotchy grey bark, that seem to climb forever into the sky. I find myself wondering about a smaller tree which bears large leaves and a strange fruit that looks vaguely familiar, but isn't. The leaves have been nibbled on, perhaps by white-tailed deer that like to loiter here. There are more questions than answers really.
The bear did not come that day, but I did see the great white heron again. We had a nice picnic by the creek, and we sat for a time splashing our feet in the cool waters. When I got home, I went to the source of all sources for information on trees in our state, Trees, Shrubs, & Vines of Arkansas by Carl G. Hunter, and found all I needed to know about the small tree I had wondered about.
Umbrella Magnolia ~ A small magnolia with light gray bark and large, paddle-shaped leaves whorled or clustered near the ends of the twigs, about 2 feet long, without lobes at the base. The large white flowers are about 10 inches wide with 6-9 narrow petals that are shorter than the sepals, ill smelling. Fruits up to 6 inches long. Valleys, coves, usually in headwater areas of small streams. Mountainous counties of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountain regions. Flowers, April - June.
I hope I can be there next spring when the magnolias are in bloom. And, I hope the bear will be there, too!