Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Missing Donkeys

We did not have a lot of company when we lived in the woods of Sevier County near De Queen Lake. The terrain up there was hilly and rough and our remote dwelling was way up on a gravel road and back in the woods on two-rutted dirt. Many town folks don’t like to drive nice cars on such rough highways and byways of life, I guess, and there was not really much to do back up in there except talk to the donkeys and fight off raccoons. That is, until deer season. Then the region got quite popular. (I enjoyed conversing with donkeys and learned that sometimes what appears to be stubbornness is actually caution—that is true with humans as well).
We have a lot of company now that we have moved to the state park in Washington, Ark. The roads are paved here and there is a lot to do in our village. Plus, even when there is not much going on at the park, people are attracted to the historic restaurant’s famous “home cooking.” We like it when friends and family come to see us. And it is gratifying to see them enjoying the park and all it has to offer. (I miss talking to donkeys, though. It is not the same conversing with the park’s draft horses. They are not very imaginative).
The Jonquil Festival took place this past weekend. My wife wanted to set up a booth in our front yard to sell some handcrafts. She is on a board whose concern is for the homeless and she wanted to raise some money to buy towels for the local shelter. I joined her and sold some of my books, advertised on a card as works by local author Dan Ford. I signed copies and wrote a little personal note in each one sold. While we were dealing with some “customers,” we noted that a lady was staring at our house with a benign smile. Turns out she had been conceived in our house a long time ago—she would not say how long. She knew some things about the history of our place, too, and her information checked out with what we had learned.
Our house was built around 1918 by the author Claud Garner, whose most famous work was Cornbread Aristocrat. Our good friend is the curator of the state park and he has published a book of photographs of historic Washington. A snapshot of our house when it was new, along with a Model T and Garner himself appears in the book. Had we not been so busy with sales, we would have given the lady a tour of the place where DNA connected to start something that was not yet finished.
Whether friends or strangers, it is nice to be here in Washington. It is a rural setting but from time to time there are as many people walking our streets as in Hot Springs—or even more. I hear that we set records in attendance at the festival and I am sure the famous restaurant did more business than in past years.

So Washington sometimes feels as remote as certain sections of Sevier County, but occasionally as populous as any major city. (But there are no loquacious donkeys around here.)

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