The Place I Call Home: The Missouri Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains Missouri

I now live in the Ozarks.  It’s a great house in a great area of Missouri.

In past blogs I wrote on the people here that I am proud and honored to be allowed to call my friends and neighbors.

This blog, though, is about my cabin even further into the mountains.

The Cabin in the Woods Salem Missouri

It is a log cabin set on a hill looking down into a glade which is part of Pine Hollow.  On most any morning, as the sun rises, one can watch wildlife wake from their slumber.

Ground squirrels scamper about under foliage and leaf cover looking for a morning meal.  Birds start singing, then flying the skies by picking up the winds to glide among the wistful clouds.

Embers in the wood burning stove caused fresh logs to blaze and cooked coffee in an old, blue metal pot.  The aroma forces a person to pour some of the black liquid into a matching blue metal cup.

Sitting on the steps, blowing on the coffee as if that would cool the hot beverage, your attention is again drawn down the hill.

Deer in the Woods

One by one, the deer enter the valley to graze.  They see me sitting and drinking my coffee but know from my disposition they can continue their eating in safety.

By the time the cup is empty, the bacon in the cast iron skillet is crisp and the grease is ready for the eggs.

Inside the Cabin in Salem Missouri

The log structure is small and even smaller inside.  There is enough room for one, cozy for two.  Light comes from two windows during the day and kerosene lamps in the evening.  Water is in five gallon containers stacked in the corner.

After breakfast, there is wood to be cut from down wood.  Some to be stacked inside the cabin, some outside under a cover, the rest just stacked by the fire pit.

When my son and daughter were small, they carried all the rock to line the bottom and sides of that fire pit.  That was thirty years ago and the rocks are still in place.

By the time I finish all the chores, the sun is below the treetops and it’s time for supper, consisting of a steak and veggies.

While eating supper, I listen to “The Radio Reader” on the local PBS station.  Every evening during the week a chapter of a book is read over the radio.

The coffee is hot again and there is the sound of a truck pulling up the hill to the door of the cabin.  It’s a friend and neighbor.  His name is Dan and the coal black hair is grey now.  He still walks with a small limp.  He lost his leg to a landmine but unless you knew that fact, you’d think he just had a rough day.  Dan has never been bitter about the loss of his leg.  He always has a smile and a good word.

Over a couple cups of coffee and a few cigarettes we talk about his family and then mine.

Original The Wolf's Moon Book Cover

The night gets late and under a clear sky the full moon lights the road for Dan to drive home.

After I’m sure Dan is safely down the hill and onto the gravel road headed home, I sit with the last cup of coffee in the pot and make notes on paper and on the neat little voice recorder my wife, Sandy, gave me.

I know that it’s time for bed when the coyotes start yapping, calling to their young.

With the stove full of wood and coffee set up for the next day, I pull my wool military blankets over me.  I know peace.

Tomorrow, I’ll write.

Copyright © 2013 Patrick Jones All Rights Reserved

THE POND SAGA UPDATE…Grand Kids Continue to UPSTAGE Their Pa Pa!!

Grand Kids Pond

UPDATE!!  Grand Kids continue to upstage their PA PA.  The Saga continues.  The Grand Kid’s Pond continues to hold water and gets bigger DAILY!  Stay tuned as they continue “THE DIG”.

The Pond

The First Pond

The First Pond

Several years ago, after turning the side yard into a garden, I decided what was needed was a pond.

At the time, my wife worked out of town most of the time.  I thought, as a surprise, I would dig a pond for her.

It was late March so the ground was soft enough to dig.  I marked the ground with orange spray paint, picked up a shovel and went to work.

Three days later, I had a hole twenty five feet wide by forty feet long and three feet deep.  From the bank of dirt to the inside of the hole, it measured a little over four feet deep.

I located the pond between five large oak trees.  My thought was a walk around the pond built from sandstone.  That was going to have to wait until May or June.  The creek has layered sandstone to mine but I needed the water level to drop.

When my wife arrived home the following Friday, she was impressed at the size of the hole I dug in the yard with a shovel.

She was not impressed that my back was not going to allow me to walk.  I have a problem with my back from time to time so she was not happy with me, but was with the pond.

The rain came in April and it rained a lot during the month; enough to fill the hole turning it into my pond.

When the rains ended, so did the pond.  The water drained and left me with a muddy hole in the ground.  Asking the neighbors around the area, they said digging the pond between five large trees was not a good idea.

My daughter is a geological engineer.  When she finished snickering, she told me to try bentonite.  It’s a powder that, when mixed with dirt and water, gets “gooey.”

Off to the feed store I went and bought ten bags.  I mixed and mixed with dirt, then spread and packed it on the bottom and sides.  Taking the garden hose, I lightly wet the mixture until the water started to settle in the bottom.  I could feel the success ebbing from my breast!

I let the hose run with the intent to fill the pond but Glenn, The Weatherman, predicted rain for the next several days.

It rained, the pond filled, then the water left me again.

The cost of a liner was prohibitive.  A friend suggested “roofing rubber.”  He used it and got great results.  I went to our local hardware store only to find out I could not get the size I needed and it was far more expensive than a pond liner.

So, for the next several years while I saved the money, the grandchildren used the hole as a fort when playing soldiers.

The Fort

The Fort

One day I decided that a roll of 4 mil thick plastic would (maybe) work.

To my amazement (and my wife’s as well), it held water.  We went and bought 3 koi fish.  We had a wonderful time watching and feeding the fish.

A year later, we had the driveway graded and new gravel laid.  The man doing the work, Don, said he could dig the pond deeper and pack it with clay.  My wife jumped at the chance to have Don do the work.

Three days and several tons of clay later, he finished.

The Second Pond

The Second Pond

It was a wonderful job.  We built a walk around the top and my wife put plants on the outside of the bank.  All that was left was water.

I took the old garden hose and filled the pond.

There was one small problem:  It wouldn’t hold water and still does not.

Now I have taken you through a tale of woe, but it gets worse.

My four year old grandson dug a pond in his backyard – just like Pa-Pa.

His pond is holding water.

Grandkid Pond

Grandkid Pond

The Summer Garden

Red and Yellow Columbine taken in Spring Missouri USA

Copyright (C) 2013 Sandra Jones, All Rights Reserved

A few years ago as a birthday present for my wife I dug an area next to the deck and made a flower garden.

My wife knows about flowers; when to plant them, where the sun is best, etc.  As for me, I figure if it goes in the ground and it gets sun and water, it’s going to grow.  It will produce flowers if I did those things.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Even though it was early summer and we had enough spring rains, the ground was rock hard.  Using a shovel, I dug an area thirty feet wide and fifty feet long.  The ground was full of rocks.  There were small ones and large ones and a few VERY large ones.  Two days later the ground was turned over, preventive weed cloth was down, assorted plants were in and all covered with pine bark.

My wife was working out of town and was to arrive home the afternoon of her birthday and I had, in addition to the garden, planned a party.

That evening I had far too many people telling me about the plants in the wrong spots.

Keeping my mouth shut, smiling and nodding my head, I listened to why nothing that I planted would grow.

Most, after the party, went home.  A few stayed over and the next day was actually no better.  My lip now has a permanent indentation from my upper teeth.

Once they had all gone to their own homes, Sandy and I relaxed to the quiet on the deck.

She smiled at me and said how much she loved the garden.  Later that day we moved some of the plants to other, more correct, spots.

Since then we have more flower gardens than anyone else on this road.  Each garden has different flowers but all beautiful.

I know your question:  What does a flower garden have to do with writing?

Not a damn thing.

Copyright © 2013 Patrick Jones, All Rights Reserved