9 Days and Counting…

With just 9 days until our little imaginary raindrop begins its odyssey, preparations are coming along well. If you are just joining us, I am sharing some moments from previous trips along the Great River Road to get us all in the mood for this grand adventure! 

Here’s an image and its story from a mid-November morning in Helena, Arkansas

If ever I wanted to stay in bed and luxuriate like the rest of the guests in this beautiful B&B, it was this morning. It was chilly, drippy and foggy. A look out my window told me I could barely see the yard light through the wet fog. The big feather bed and mountain of soft pillows wanted me to stay. I could smell coffee, then I could smell what I am sure was warm cinnamon rolls in the oven. This is what went on in my head…

 – aaawww jeez – just relax – you won’t get anything out there this morning anyway

       – You don’t know that – it could change in a heartbeat – get up                                          

– You had a long day yesterday – you deserve a break

       – You are not here on vacation – get up!

– God! That smells good! No need to be rigid about this…

       – GET UP!

– ALL RIGHT!!!!  (mutter, mutter, grumble…..)

So, I went – out in the murky drizzle, not even allowing myself to go through the dining room to grab a banana because I knew I would cave!

I had arrived in town late last night so hadn’t scouted the area and didn’t have any idea if there was river access. I had seen only some big industrial stuff that turned out to be a terminal where the barges were off-loaded onto semis. I followed a rutted, muddy road across the dike to an even muddier road to who-knows-where. I was still feeling a bit sorry for myself and a bit resentful and out-of-sorts. The fog was even thicker – I could feel I was getting nearer the river, but I could see no more than 10 feet in front of my headlights. If it got too muddy to go forward I couldn’t imagine how I would turn around – it was pretty swampy on both sides. I wondered grumpily if I would be rewarded for coming by getting stuck! 

Then in spite of myself, I started to marvel at the mystery of the fog – how it so totally transforms everything. I could drive this road on a sunny afternoon and never know it to be the same road. I turned up the heater and rolled down the window and smelled the river – that musky, earthy scent that never fails to stir something deep within me. I turned off the engine and listened. I imagined I could hear it – just over there – although maybe it was sensed by something below the level of physical hearing. I put the window up part way to lessen the chill, closed my eyes and meditated, letting the fog hold me and my car full of stuff in its soft, gauzy arms. Fog has a way of playing with sound. Deep in my meditation, the sounds were amplified and dispersed in funny ways – a bird call seemed to come from all sides like some high tech surround sound. A rustle in the brush sounded like an elephant coming my way. Eventually I opened my eyes, and all the rough, grumpy edges had been smoothed away. I was content to be alive in this moment. The fog was less dense, the drizzle had stopped and the air seemed a bit warmer. The birds were greeting the morning.

I decided that in the unlikely event anyone else came down here this morning I would be able to hear them, so I put on my rain jacket, took my tripod and camera case, left the car where it was and started down the road. My boots quickly got heavy with mud, but there was a sense of joy and wonder in my heart.

In a short ways the roadbed rose higher and there was water on both sides. The fog started to disperse from the top down and the bottom up, leaving the ground and trees shrouded while the sky above started to show blue and pink. As the warmth evaporated it more, I could see there was a bayou in front, then a strip of land, then the river beyond. I set up the tripod and by the time I was ready to shoot, the water in front of me had cleared and was now reflecting the trees and the soft warm sky. Thank you, God!  Thank you for dragging my lazy butt out of bed and bringing me here! I was so filled with gratitude and humility at the beauty in front of me that tears spilled from my eyes and a sound somewhere between laughing and crying came from my heart.     

Have a great day!    Gayle

About Gayle Harper

Travel Photographer and Writer
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