Every January, Freddy & I go to Devil's Den State Park in the Ozarks south of Fayetteville. It's a special place to us ever since our first visit during my family reunion in July, 2002 when Freddy & I had just started seeing each other. We made a reservation that time for the following January. When we checked out that time, we made another reservation for the following year, etc. This was our 8th visit. In between times, we carry Devil's Den around with us in our pockets like a delicious secret. During the rest of the year, we smile wryly as we drive past the exit sign on our way to Springdale or Nebraska, counting the months until we'll be checking in there, again.
There are rules for our stay in the cabin. These are them:
- No tv
- No phones
- No computers
- Fire in the fireplace, constantly
- Be as close to nature as possible which involves the windows and doors being open whenever possible. (this one is my rule)
Usually, the cell phones don't come in up there but this time, they did. A little. I could stand out by the truck in the driveway to the cabin and get a few bars. I'd check the answering machine at the clinic, primarily because I'm waiting on pins and needles for a go-ahead on a new massage gig with a pretty good potential. I'm about to run out of money to tide me over and keep me out of a full-time job back in the ER (which is the only place I'd work, although I'd bitch about it, unceasingly). This year they have phones installed in the cabins but our's didn't ring and we didn't use it. Simple.
Same with computers. We didn't bring one.
The fire rule is the way we are able to abide by the doors and windows open rule. They go together. Here's what we do. The first night, we check in, unpack, bring in arm loads of firewood. Then we go to Fayetteville and eat. Sometimes we eat in really nice places. This time we ate at Formosa Garden which was pretty darn good oriental food (I don't know the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai but I think it was Chinese). Then we go buy groceries. Well, because one of us stayed up way too late on the internet the night before we left home and only getting 4 hours of sleep, we (I) was too tired to shop after we ate so we just picked up a few things and went home. Then Freddy builds a fire, takes his place at the table and reads for 4 days. I open the window in the living room, fold the futon into a bed, pile onto it my books, magazines and art supplies, get two pillows off the bed for my back and one for my lap and wrap up in a blanket and start reading, writing or painting/drawing in front of the fire. And that's how we spend our week at Devil's Den every January. Oh, and the puzzle. I almost forgot the puzzle. That's the best part. The first January visit to the cabins I brought a jigsaw puzzle. How often do you have the time to do a puzzle, for Christ's sake? Well, I did one and I was hooked. I've brought a puzzle every year, since. For some reason last year I didn't work on the one I brought but I was back at my game this time. God, what a luxury to put together a jigsaw puzzle. I can't get over how much I love that. Try it. It's better than Zoloft.
I sit on the log chair outside on the rocky area beside the cabin. I wrap up in a blanket, take a mug of coffee with me and write, read or just watch birds. I stay until it gets dark and I stay latest on the last night because I don't want it to be over.
You can see the top of the cabin my mother and sister, Janet, stayed in during our family reunion. Seven years later, I still expect to see them in there when we drive past. It makes me miss them all.
I've been in this weird faerie-drawing mood, lately, that I'm not sure what's about. So while hiking on one of the Devil's Den trails, I took 191 pictures of cool places that looked like good backgrounds for faerie paintings or drawings. Little rocky out-croppings and mossy covered rocks with holes in them and hollow logs. What inspiration there. I hiked every day we were there.
I attempted a watercolor of the above photo. Wow. It's not as easy as you'd think. I did some art, what little I did, because Bobbi said, "Do some art while you're there," when we left and she's been especially sad lately and I wanted to please her. This painting won't, though.
These are some of my favorite pictures of the trail. There was a waterfall and ice all around that, on the trail making for some monumental puckering but breathtaking scenery. Freddy went with me the first day and after that I was on my own. One day as I was walking to the trail from the cabin, I came across an armadillo bumbling around in the leaves. I was able to get up close to him and every once in a while he'd look around and get startled when he saw me. He'd take about 3 fast steps and go back to rooting around in the leaves. Crazy thing. As if he'd outrun me in 3 crummy armadillo strides.
A park employee stopped when she saw me taking like 9 pictures of this armadillo and must've felt sorry for me. So she told me about this guy on the right. She said he'd be down by the lake between 8:30 and 9am. So the next morning I got up and went down to see and there he was. What a sight. I couldn't get very close and this picture is horribly zoomed and blurry but what an incredible sight. When I tried to get closer, he flew away and I wanted to flog myself. Next morning he was back, as was I and minding my manners better that day. I watched him as long as I could, there in the bitter cold and then I left him for somebody else to look at and I went back to the cabin to pack.
On the way home (not exactly. We live south of the park and Amanda lives north, but, anyway) we stopped to see the boys, oh yeah and Amanda. They're short-timers now and I'm gonna miss them a lot when they move to Nebraska. (Waaaaa!)
An old friend, Elizabeth, was visiting while we were there. It's easy to see that married life agrees with her! She looks wonderful. Doesn't she know you're suppose to gain weight when you get married? It only took the boys 2 hours to completely knock out any existing energy we had and we went home pretty early.
It was a wonderful trip, as usual. Is it not January 2010, yet?