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..."

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Story of Its People, The First Hundred Years...

Many years ago, in this wild unsettled west
Where grasses, seldom trod, grew upon earth's breast
A rippling brook flowed swiftly down
Through the canebrake, cataract bound;
The song-bird twittered and warbled low;
A rattlesnake glided and slided slow,
Out from the rift of an old fallen tree,
The wild beast awoke and wandered the lea.
A spreading forest, a tangled way,
 With smiling sunbeams there to play,
Mid the jungle's rustle, where winds came to tease
The flowers and trees with a laughing breeze;
Bending blossoms faced the sun each day,
Ungathered and unnoticed, save along the way
Came an Indian maid, an Arkansas true.
Gathered and shook from the petals the dew
Thus a scene in a forest far away-
The Caucasian knew not his possession one day.

~Ella Molloy Langford, 
A History of Johnson County Arkansas, The First Hundred Years, 1921

"Indian arrow-points once found by the hundreds, but now seldom chanced upon, a few fast fading chiseled markings, and a now limited number of grave mounds almost flattened by time and tide, are all the records left by a primitive people to the present habitation of this country.

"with love and ties of human kindness..."
A few of the old settlers, for few are left, tell posterity that this or that is an Indian graveyard. A graveyard indeed - for buried underneath that soil, as also in the silent pages of a long forgotten past, is an unwritten history:  A history of a life, with love and ties of human kindness; of wars and warriors, and struggles for existence; of sadness and sorrow, and death, flits across the mind of civilization, as a myth and a dream:  A dream that is romantic and beautiful because of the uncertainty of its outline, yet a dream of a past that is fundamentally true."

Note:  I found it interesting that my great, great, great grandmother was listed as one of the contributors to this history, but died before it was completed.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Good Neighbors...

"The Harivansa says, 'An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning.'  Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them.  I was not only nearer to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those wilder and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely, serenade a villager, - the wood thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the whip-poor-will, and many others."
                                                                                                 ~ Henry David Thoreau's Walden

We are "caged," in a sense; and we, like Thoreau, are fortunate to be neighbors to many birds - birds of all sizes and colors.  By day we enjoy the songs of the mockingbird, and on spring evenings , we listen for the lonely call of the whip-poor-will.  We do have good neighbors.
This was a week of close encounters with the Great Blue Heron that randomly appears, first at one pond, then another, and at various streams here and there. The first encounter was, literally, right in my face, when he was surprised by my passing near a stream in which he was feeding.  Of course, I had no camera.  And, another miss...one I so regret, for I had almost taken my camera... occurred at Deep Pond when the old cowboy and I were crossing the bank in the tractor to "get to the other side."  Right under our very noses, the Great Blue Heron stood with a fairly large fish in his beak.  Ordinarily, he would have been long gone when he saw us, but he was intent on the task at hand...to swallow that magnificent catch.  There was nothing to do, but to enjoy the moment (which might have been a good thing), and later to record the data in the journal notebook (always good to know the wheres and whens in one's studies).  But, I did carry my camera with me for the rest of the week; and, it was a good thing, for there was to be a third encounter...

It happened at Upper Pond, along which the Chip Butter Trail passes.  Frightened by my approach, the big blue bird lifted his tremendous wings and rose into the air, but...  he did not fly away, as he normally does, but alighted in the top of a huge pine tree.  His beak was parted, so he surely must have been uttering his harsh, prehistoric-sounding squawk, which I would have liked to have heard.  After a bit, he was up and away...

For the past few years, I have become quite taken with the Bunting bird families.  I often see the extremely attractive Indigo Bunting near thickets where woodlands meet open areas.  There is no color quite so beautiful as that of this small bird, although I have read it has no blue pigment, but is actually black.  It is the diffraction of light through the structure of the feathers that makes them appear blue. Could have fooled me!

It was a few years ago that I first saw a male Painted Bunting.  As I was driving along, a couple of  very colorful little birds flew up from the highway right in front of me. I wondered what rare bird they might be, and hoped they were both safe.   But, when I got home, I found one of them in the grill of my truck - the male Painted Bunting - bright red underparts and rump, green back, blue head, and red eye ring.  I held that lifeless little bird of many colors in my hand, and felt sick. Only once, since that day, have I seen another.  I will keep looking, and I will record it here...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

After the Rain...

It's a "Splish, Splash, Splosh" trek over the Chipbutter Trail these days, but I'm not complaining, for I did make a pledge during the terrible drought of 2012 that I would never complain about rain again.  The Old Cowboy said at that time that I might "eat my words one of these days."   And, I may, but I haven't yet...