For nearly twenty years bats flew up the hollow every evening (except when hibernating) around dusk. A couple years ago I realized that I was no longer seeing them and this left me concerned about the spreading bat disease I had been reading about. Late Saturday night, however, I was driving up and out of the hollow when I was happy to see a few bats dipping down into my yellow headlights and grabbing insects before flitting to the darkness above. My hope for them has returned.
Just like a year ago, a black vulture nested in our barn and raised a young one. Last summer, she had two babies. I was just watching the chick, who has finally lost all of his fuzzy white feathers and looks like an authentic buzzard instead of a weird muppet creature. It was sitting in the barn window. looking around and then would suddenly swoop down inside the barn with wings spread. It would fly a circle and then land back in the open window and strut back and forth and make a gravelly sound of pride. It was cute. I have yet to see it fly outside of the barn.
It has been pointed out to me that I had a factual error in my January 7, 2015 column that appeared in the Eureka Springs Independent newspaper. The following is the corrected version.
My wife Diane grew up where the Pig Trail Kart n Golf (formerly The Fun Spot) is located on Highway 62 East in Eureka Springs. If you go back to the early 1980s, it was still a beautiful family home place, with an abundance of flowers, bushes and large old trees around a house with a big yard. There was some pasture and Duane O’Connor sometimes ran a few cows. Diane and her brother Doug would play in the front yard and periodically a car would pull up and tourists would ask for directions to the Passion Play. After being given directions, the tourists would sometimes ask how many blocks away it was. Diane didn’t know how to answer that.
Thirty years ago, we kept my Cousin Jim Sisco’s mare Lulabell at our place and I spent many a happy hour riding across the countryside. I wanted to go to my grandparents’ farm, but didn’t want to ride down through the curves on the shoulderless highway. (I’d done that before and didn’t want to repeat it.) My Grandpa Jack McCall knew all kinds of shortcuts, so I asked him for directions. He suggested I take the old road over the mountain and through the woods. Turns out his definition of a road and mine were different (mine undoubtedly influenced by living in East Coast suburbia.)
I still remember his directions. I was to turn left at the red oak snag. I found it. I was to stay straight at the giant dead elm. I found it. I was to watch for the dogs at the house where the hippies grew dope. Those dogs found me before I found them. Lulabell and I made it through that section pretty quick. Looking back, I realize that she and I did a lot of trespassing without a second thought.
Speaking of Grandpa and hippies, he told me once that he’d heard that there were hippies in Eureka that didn’t get out of bed until nine in the morning. He was incredulous. I’m glad he didn’t know what time I got up.
For thirty years, O’Connor’s Texaco Service Station operated in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In about 1954, Duane O’Connor bought an old Dodge Power Wagon so they could offer a wrecker service, too. Over the years he bought a number of different wrecker trucks to be used in the business. The one pictured below is a 1955 model Chevrolet truck. He eventually sold this vehicle to Howard Weems. Duane operated the wrecker service until his back gave out in about 1980.
In my little workshop building, there is a backroom I use as an office. I was sitting in there yesterday with the cat upon my lap, when in through the open door walked a young raccoon. I assume he was just looking for cat food, but thinking him rude, I told him so and off he ran in surprise.
My sister bought a copy of the 1954 annual yearbook of the Eureka Springs High School. Below is the front cover.
Next is the list of students and faculty sponsors who comprised the staff of the 1954 edition of the annual yearbook. There are several familiar names on the list. Donna O’Connor, for instance, is my wife’s aunt. Tommy Walker is the father of Laura Loudermilk who was the maid of honor at my wedding. Many of the surnames listed represent the oldest families of Eureka Springs and the Western District of Carroll County, Arkansas.
For the last couple of days, this owl roosted in the open window of the barn. It appears to be a barred owl to my untrained eye, which makes sense because we have several of them in the hollow. We often hear their distinctive call or occasionally they chatter like monkeys. They have raised young several times since we’ve lived in the hollow and it is a joy to hear this occur. I took this photo with my cell phone and it looked so dark that you could barely make out the owl. I turned it over to Barb Weems-Mourglia and in just a few minutes on her phone she had enhanced it into this beautiful photograph.