Saturday, April 30, 2022

Waddlin' with the ducks


The most common place I encounter the ducks is along the Mississippi River. These ducks are often in larger flocks and have a more wild attitude. Only by careful stalking am I able to get within twenty feet of them, and sometimes just walking towards them at a distance will cause them to thunder briefly into the air. They don't like to be crowded. But sometimes I get lucky and get some nice pictures of them bobbing along in the shimmer of the reflective water of our dark river.

Much more rarely I come upon a pair of ducks on Shadow Creek. Once it was below the falls. Today, to my surprise, I came upon a couple of them above the falls. The creek ducks, who are surely the same ducks as the river ducks, are, in that environment, much cozier in attitude. The creek seems to bring out their mellowness. For me that means that they don't too much mind my hanging out with them.

By "hanging out" I generally mean, with wildlife, getting within about ten feet of them and them letting me.

Naturally, from this special vantage point I took quite a few pictures of these ducks. But in working these pictures up I could see, as so often happens, that there was just one picture that really captures the feeling, that puts us right up there on water with the duck. Anything more in the way of photos would dilute it. 

So here then is the representative duck picture of the day- the one where we seem as close to the ducks as I felt and where we're maybe even close enough in to get just a tiny taste of our duck's personality. 

Grab hold of something.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Horses and rain

When it rains hard at my library we get leaks upstairs.

When the leaks collect in pools it attracts teams of horses.

When the horses come they roar, heaving through the library.

But nobody notices.

So I try to make them notice.

I don't know why.

The horses don't care.

The rain doesn't care.

And I am satisfied that there is magic in the world. 

No matter what anyone pretends.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Mississippi River Bird


I was out on the Mississippi River and I caught a picture of a little yellow accented bird. It was nothing really to get such a picture. I saw him hopping along some of the logs and detritus pushed in by the Spring runoff to line the shore. He was a stout little fellow, bouncing along from place to place, but brightly colored, so I thought he would make a nice photo subject.

I removed my camera lens and turned on my camera. I aimed at the wee figure to get him in my sights. He was quite small, so I zoomed in. As I did so he hopped away.


But he only went a little bit away. Now he was fetchingly posed on a bare branch, backdropped by the mighty river. I swept my camera over, got him beautifully in sight, and as I depressed the shutter button he flew away.

Just missed him.


But he only moved a few yards down the shore!!! So I followed along, aiming and taking blurry pictures and curious accidental shots of mundane and muddy scenes he just vacated.

Anyway, to make a long story short, after 40 minutes I finally got this shot. 

It's not bad, but some of the pictures I didn't get were gorgeous.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Elon Musk Buys Twister!


I haven't played Twister very often over the past 30 years what with my back problems and everything. Nevertheless I like to keep my eye on what's going on in the World just in case God pips by for a bit a advice. And during that time of... waiting, I couldn't help but notice Twister has been much in the news, rising from a simple party game centered on acrobatics, yoga, and colored dots, to a pastime of Presidents that's played obsessively by limber celebrities while the world watches.

In fact I have seen Twister become such an enormous worldwide phenomenon that it featured prominently in 2018's Princess Switch, starring Vanessa Hudgens and Robin Soans.

So it really caught my eye when the richest man on earth bought Twister for himself.

He must play a lot of Twister! He paid over 400 billion dollars to own a board game.

But I'll acknowledge it's not just any board game. It has a spinner!

And in the end I suppose I am left with the same question as everyone else:

Will everyone still be able to play Twister, or just Elon Musk?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Chapter 28: The Longest Walk


Chapter 28: The Longest Walk

My pick-up of my mailed package for our next hiking section went off without a hitch at the Kohlrabi Post Office. With a few groceries (mostly cheese) I was resupplied for another three to four weeks. But there was no excitement or sense of joy in opening up any of it. Oliver flatly and sadly declined to put anything I had acquired in his pack, although on a short break heading back to the woods I tossed him an nice bag of new gorp, this version containing butterscotch pieces. "Something to remember me by." I said. He smiled wanly, took a small handful out to eat, and then he packed it in to his half-empty pack.

After a month of my moping and worrying and dreading Oliver leaving, it was now Oliver who seemed inconsolable. I was the mature adult, reassuring him that all would be okay and he would have plenty of fun being a rabbit god without me.

My new book from my shipment was Don Quixote. When I showed it to him, Oliver, with all the spark in him completely snuffed out, weakly said "I would have liked to read that one." 

Forty years on no one has ever called me "Guv'nor" again.

We climbed back towards the woods and the main Agua Fria Trail. Oliver was leading. It started to drizzle. 

Oliver turned back to me and said "You know, you have less than 2,000 miles to go."

I said "Maybe we should try and do it all today." He smiled without a lot of heart.

The land was open for some miles away from the town of Kohlrabi. When we came upon the woods again they appeared suddenly out of a mist. Up ahead I saw Oliver enter them, the entrance a dark blot in the face of a wall of trees. I trudged along behind in my familiar quest to catch up to Oliver, who I would regularly find resting comfortably, munching gorp when he could, always waiting. But this time I kept going and did not find him. Indeed, I never caught up. I kept hoping I would, long after I knew I wouldn't, until I came to my bag of butterscotch gorp, lying, abandoned, on the middle of the trail. 

A rabbit dashed into the woods.

I heard a roll of thunder. 

It started to rain. 

"This is the driest thing I know." I said softly to myself, and walked on.

Monday, April 25, 2022

The price of doing the right thing


Once upon a time here at my library, I developed a fascination with doorbells. So I acquired one for our front desk. This allowed people working at the front desk of the library an opportunity to call for help from the backroom when their lines grew too long.

But so many things darken with time.

And what I once pictured sunnily as a way for responsible, overworked co-workers to have a way to call for help, slowly changed. Now there are people who ring that bell when a single person is waiting in line. 

I have regularly dropped some bit of work in the backroom to dash out to the front desk of the library to answer a question like "Are you open tomorrow?"

"Yes." I say.

Thank god that person didn't have to wait an extra ten seconds!

And, okay, maybe it's a good thing no one had to wait an extra ten seconds. As many as 15 percent of our library patrons are busy people who do not have time to kill! But I have nevertheless come to feel as if ringing that doorbell is a signal of defeat or failure. While sometimes I recognize that it is unavoidable, I loathe disturbing my co-workers in the back room and feel that outside of rare circumstances, if I work carefully, efficiently, and with speed, wisdom, and alacrity, I usually shouldn't have to.

I believe this reaction comes from the fact that I have become certain that some of my co-workers adore that doorbell, with an unholy fervor, and seek every opportunity to ring it. Today my library has been open for four busy afternoon hours. I have been alone at the desk for two of those. The doorbell has been rung about 15 times now.

I, who have covered the desk for 50 percent of the time, have rung it once. Once!

Was there a second time I should have rung it? Should I have rung it earlier the one time I did ring it?


But did I need to abandon the transit bin I was unloading to race breathlessly to the front desk so that the man who hung out in the parking lot for two hours waiting for us to open didn't have to wait an extra minute to find out the copy machine he used yesterday was still in the same place?

Yeah, probably. Who am I to judge? 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Chapter 27: Kohlrabi


Chapter 27: Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi was a tourist town, a gateway to the outdoors. And with Summer just rearing its mighty head it was hopping with visitors. After spending months in the wilderness this was strange and disorienting. People seemed cartoonish, like caricatures of themselves. To this day I feel this is the honest view of people in general, but no one can naturally hold on to a view like that. From that clear view one won't be able to interact with other people. The common presence and every interaction will serve to generalize one in the world. The sharp lines of a person's individuality dissolve as if in an slow acid. We are made permeable of, for, and to society. The world will make a person relentlessly more common on one hand, but on the other hand solitude works like a corrosive base to tear at your organizing structures and leave you mad. And so at first Oliver and I struggled to be intelligible to others, fast enough, simple enough, less stupefied by all the lunacy. But the world quickly and efficiently pushed us along and tenderized us. And soon the waitress was bringing pizza.

And by the third pizza place we were much more acclimated to civilization. We got a large olive and onion pizza. We were full and satisfied already, but neither of us wanted this dream of luxury to end. Fortunately I think the third pizza was by far the best one. It was already mid afternoon, and we worked slowly away at the slices. We clung to our idyll.

Somewhere in the midst of this I noticed a disquieting presence. 

Had it been there all along, or was it just that now that I was aware of it it was impossible to look away?

In the darkest corner of the pizza parlor sat a woman. She seemed disfigured in some way that I couldn't put my finger on. Her face didn't seem quite right, especially her mouth and the shape of her head. Her skin was shiny and lacked pigmentation in some subtle, unsettling way. She was much older than Oliver and I, maybe in her forties? She sat extraordinarily still, perching over a plate of what I think was just a bunch of lightly broiled pepperoni. She only seemed to move when I looked away.

"That woman over there is kind of freaking me out." I said to Oliver.

"Yeah." He said. "She would. But you'll get used to her."

"No." I said, my heart dropping.

"Be nice to spiders?" Oliver said in a sheepish sort of way.

"Holy crap." I said. "Do we have to say hi or something?"

"Oh, I'm not going over there. No way! But you can wave if you want."

I looked over and thought she looked back, but I couldn't tell exactly behind her large mirrored glasses. Wait, was she wearing glasses? I nodded weakly towards her.

She raised an extra arm from somewhere, separate possibly from the ones on her table. Was there a glove on it or no hand at all? She then slightly waved it at, maybe, me.

"You'll be fine." Oliver said, and I was not reassured.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Chapter 26: End of an Era


Chapter 26: End of an Era

The last full day of our hike, before hitting the town of Kohlrabi, was 22 miles through the woods. And though these weren't the first woods of the Agua Fria Trail, they were the first gothic woods- the first mysterious and ancient woods. The other woods that we had traveled sometimes long miles in were lovely, but they were dry and neat. Needles and sparse plants covered the ground. They transitioned up from high, clean desert and then neatly back down. The air in these woods was sweet and thin. Everything smelled of pine, a refreshing smell people have bottled and sold for decades. The paths were clear and bold, open and steady. 

This ancient wood we now found ourselves in was dark. Its smell was rich and without translation, a brew of moss and maple syrup and mushrooms and dead things. The forest floor was heaped and wet, slimy and bursting with death and flowers and color and predatory plants oozing bait. Life and death teemed, or teamed, or both. We no longer roamed a planet here, we moved through the very guts of a single, complex, living thing. 

It was the first place I don't think Oliver liked.

In the morning we walked waving sticks in front of us to break the mass of spider webs woven across the trail. Sometimes there were such prodigious Globe Spiders, sitting in their giant webs, that we could not bear to knock them down and clambered instead through ferns and slimy mosses and dead, tangled trees to circumnavigate them. I led at all times, which was unusual, and though there were no big climbs, all the mud and careful footing required seemed to foil Oliver, who, for the first time ever, I found myself regularly waiting for.

With all the richness of this forest I felt sure the pathetic last dregs of our rations would be padded out by some fabulous, foraged mushroom stew of Oliver's, but in the evening, when we made camp, he had no interest in poking about. We nibbled carefully the last bits of all our food, meager as it was, down to a small square of extremely hard parmesan cheese that we carefully split. We would now have nothing but water until Kohlrabi in 10 or 15 miles.

I lit a large fire, our first in at least a month. It was hard to get going due to the damp in everything, but once we got it going it made quick use of our vast fuel as we piled it on. The fire seemed to bring back some life to Oliver. He smiled weakly once again, and talked a little. When I saw him out of the corner of my eye though he seemed almost transparent. Once, coming back to the fire with yet more wood, I thought he had wandered away until I nearly was right upon him. He warmed himself at the flames that I could almost see through him. The more I burned the more Oliver seemed to come to life and we soon had a massive bonfire. It was reckless and thrilling, but not really dangerous in the green and damp forest.

The next morning we woke early and Oliver seemed to be in better spirits. I was in an especially good mood for reasons I didn't understand. We were both hungry and eager to be on our way. That day I saw my first Goldenflower tree, the tallest trees in the world. Here on the fringes of their domain they were not particularly tall, but their elegance was unmistakable and some of them were beginning to flower. These were small and dense, and actually not technically flowers, and among the unusually dark foliage of the trees the golden clusters seemed to glow like stars in the night.

Soon the trail, now an offshoot of the Agua Fria, took us down and out of the deep woods and gradually into civilization. We crossed into the city of Kohlrabi on Paradise Street, and took that street down the hill to Main Street, which was bustling. Looking left and right we could see at least three pizza places for sure.

We both grinned. "I'm not really hungry, are you?" I asked.

"No." Replied Oliver calmly. "But we should probably get one pizza at each of those places so that we will know where we should go if we do get hungry."

So we did.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Four abstracts


As you know, one of my ongoing photography pursuits has been to create abstract images of stream environments. I have always found fully abstract images to be complicated, and though they have never been my favorite avenue in visual arts, I am also aware of their counter intuitive power. Despite the ridiculous old saw of "My five year old can do that!", the truth is that making a fully abstract image that works visually, and perhaps even is affecting, is insanely difficult and far less common than one might think. I suppose a less tutored version of myself could look at a Kandinsky or Pollock and, while impressed, still wonder about how easy that might be to make. But the common abstract images of my life, less famous- a large painting posted just past the entrance of my library, the circle painting of my elevator lobby, the quirky amateur abstracts of my local resale shops, are readily available, telling examples of just how flat and lifeless abstract painting is by default.

I have never had any strong interest in abstract painting, nor any sense I'd be much good at it, so it was a surprise when I found it cropping up around the edges of my photography. As suggested in the paragraph above, it is by no means something I have found simple to do, but having stumbled upon a few small successes along the way I take a delight in it.

Because I am working with photography there are unmistakable reflections of real world imagery that modify the level of abstraction in my pictures. But a couple of days ago I was down a the base of Shadow Falls, where shadow creek runs thicker with mosses and algae. This seemed to help my cause. Among my large collection of pictures from that day I got a few that were over towards some of the furthest parts of pure abstraction I have yet managed.

Naturally I wanted to share them with you.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Chapter 25 Into the woods


Chapter 25: Into the Woods

Climbing 7,000 feet out of Paradise Canyon (which wasn't really called Paradise Canyon at that point anymore) wasn't hard. I had been backpacking endlessly through difficult terrain for almost two months now and was in the best shape of my young, notably sedentary life. But I still manage to remember that hike for its unpleasantness. It was just so... uphill. And though it was full of dramatic views, that was only if one looked back. And looking back always gave one the incredulous feeling of "Is that all we've done so far?" So the main view one inclined to was of the way forward, and it mainly consisted of hard, stony trails, winding, dry switchbacks, and of course, Oliver, whose fitness and nimbleness was always two levels better than my own, no matter how good mine managed to become. And so there he ever was, a hundred yards ahead.

But I think the real problem with this hike was we just didn't bring enough water.

It was a hot day, bone dry and cloudless. We drank all the water in our canteens by the time we were halfway out. Then we simply suffered. Unlike the few places one could hike out of Paradise Canyon in the National Park, here there was no defined rim, and in the end, after several weeks, we wound unceremoniously away from the canyon on the sketchy trail, climbing along gullies and ravines. Trees started to show up on the land. The view behind us became more mundane, and the world attained a roundness with big hills mounding into bigger round hills under a round sun and a round sky.

Finally the trees thickened into forest to swallow us up in their blissful shadows. And best of all we came to a stream. It was hard to be patient enough to treat our water there, but we did. We drank in almost desperate gulps, thinking we would be able to drink forever. But we weren't able to drink forever. It's a funny thing about being dangerously thirsty. It's everything, and then it's not. It all seems too easy.

We looked around. Yes, we were in the woods.

"Maybe we should just camp here?" I suggested, struck suddenly by the peace and punctuation of the place. Oliver nodded an assent. We were now two nights from the town of Kohlrabi. 

Our rations at this point were thin and wretched. Oliver found a handful of rough, wild and bitter greens, and three mushrooms. I left him to it because I could still eat some barely passable salami. We rationed one handful of gorp each. It had been a reserved few days between Oliver and I, and quiet ones. We were both thinking our own thoughts, and the cloud of his leaving had hung over us. Sitting there, finishing lunch, I pulled out my last secret stash from town- an individual sized bag of Taco Doritos. We feasted and were very hungry.

We talked about pizza and played gin late into the starry night. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Winter clings desperately on


I was out tramping through the mud along the Mississippi River this morning. I climbed down to the soaking base of Shadow Falls. And there, among the fascinating dribbles of mud, the drooling waterfalls, and the thick carpets of lurid green and yellow algae and mosses, was ice.


If you look down at the bottom right corner you will see that the date is April 20. But Winter simply refuses to let go here. Oh, Winter is losing the battle this far into Spring. It tries to snow and half the time it turns to rain. It attempts to be bitter cold, but it can only manage to get into the thirties. And what ice it can produce has to be snuck into the cavernous shadows of riverside cliffs. But it will not give up the hunt. It is remorseless. And as its last moments of hanging on, by torn and bleeding fingernails, slip away, we are, I must admit, inspired by its bloody-minded ferocity. 

But also, we are not the least bit sad to see it go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Blood curdling co-worker behavior


The co-worker in question is a librarian. The time of the event is three minutes after the closing of the library. The librarian is part time, and of the chair-filling variety- so not one I particularly respect, but neither of the sort to have done noticeably irritating things over the years.

Until the event in question at which point he went into the record books!

Most librarians stay to clear the library after closing, but not all of them, and not this sort of librarian. I was scheduled to stay to empty and secure the library myself, and we had just done it. The doors were all locked, the bathrooms checked, and the upstairs "all clear" had been given. At this moment the librarian in question decided to leave the library through the front doors.

The staff do not, as a rule, leave through the front. We have a back door. But whatever his reason he needed to leave through the front. Fine. Perhaps he was walking or heading south. The doors are crash door locked, that is they are locked from the outside, but if you are inside they will always unlock with a push to let you out.

He pushed the door to exit.

As he did so two groups, totaling six people, were approaching the closed library. Instead of this librarian squeezing through the door and making sure it closed behind him, or instead of telling any of the people approaching "I'm sorry, we're closed." this librarian calmly threw open the doors and walked obliviously away, leaving the door easily accessible for everyone arriving. Six people poured into the library.

I don't really think I need to say anything more.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Is the mike on?


Oh, hi.

You're probably here for the blog post. Well, statistically speaking you're probably not here, but technically speaking you actually are here, which is probably the top argument for reality over statistics.

 Anyway, in case you didn't know, this is clerkmanifesto, where we post super entertaining content every single day for an amazingly uninterested Internet.

But let's not go into all that. 

We've been running this daily blogging content for so long I've stopped counting. I used to count it all the time. At one point my number of blog posts was the top topic on this blog. Now I don't have any idea about that number. That's how old this blog is!

My top topic on this blog at the moment is, I guess, the serialized memoir of my youthful through-hike on the Agua Fria Trail. The next chapter is probably Wednesday.

Originally this blog was mostly about working in a large, near urban, public library. Then, like an unreasonably large rock thrown in a pond, the subject rippled out from there. Clerkmanifesto has at this point probably 20 or so main subjects, but none of us would profit from me attempting to count them. After many years of adamantly opposing having pictures on my blog, with the advent of Covid-19, I got a camera and started featuring just gobs of photographs here. So at any point this blog might get stuffed full of photos.

This post is probably safe from any photos though, in case you were worried.

Once, briefly, I tried to switch this blog over to a website called lifeisafountain, but it was too cumbersome to work with, so I came back to this.

I still tell stories from my library here. In fact, that's what I came here today to do. I had a really good one about something awful one of my co-workers did yesterday. But when I sat down to write I couldn't remember the story. So I just started writing this. I guess the idea is to catch everyone up. Although statistically no one reading here had any need to get "caught up", and also technically no one needed to get caught up either. 

This is the top argument for reality and statistics being the same.

Oh, since we're catching people up,  I got a new t-shirt that says "Greendale Community College", after my favorite TV show. I'm wearing it today. Also, did you know that for a brief period during the early years of Clerkmanifesto I set aside one day a week for light chats like this one?

I did! 

I guess it's making a comeback.

Also, I remembered my library story. I'll tell it to you tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Library snapshots


It has been a quiet day at the library today and, since I carry around a camera of sorts at all times now, I thought, rather than write anything on this well covered (by me) territory about how things are at my library, maybe I could just take a few representative snaps that might give a flavor of today's library vibe.

So I headed out and took some fairly random pictures upstairs. It's pretty mellow up there with the Spring sun streaming in the windows.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Chapter 24: Paradise Canyon Forever


Chapter 24: Paradise Canyon Forever

The funny thing about the famous, wonder of the world, Paradise Canyon, is that it is bigger than you think. It is famous for being bigger than you think, and so, knowing this, you think you're prepared for all its grandeur and are girded against it being bigger than you thought, but no matter where you've set the marker on it, it yet manages to be bigger still.

This conundrum has never been foiled.

I won't talk about the breadth of Paradise Canyon here in this chapter, or the mighty height of its great cascade of walls. And I don't mean to discuss now the monumental size of the National Park, one of the country's largest, and the hundreds of miles it took to cross its boundaries from north to south. Also there is the matter of the complexity of the canyon that is not my subject here, where the Paradise Canyon exists on so many levels and in such astonishing folds and breaks and windings and hidden corners that each mile contains another ten hidden miles within.

No. As befits the story of a through-hike, I want to discuss just how long Paradise Canyon is! 

Oliver and I hiked through the entire length of Paradise Canyon National Park. It was amazing and long and beautiful and long and challenging and long. And then finally we came to the border of the park and so in theory were done. But the Agua Fria Trail took truck with none of that and continued on just as it was. The trail followed the same valley of the Bluestone River for a long, long time, and it  was pretty much the same deep canyon of the park- deep and colorful, massive and complicated.

It turned out that the whole "National Park" thing is just a trick, the perfidy of the labels of Man and the quiet con of his maps meant to entice and repel. I might even venture to say that the next 100 or so miles upstream of the Paradise Canyon National Park were prettier, more varied and more astounding even, than that which resided inside the fabled park itself. But Oliver and I probably wouldn't have ventured to say anything of the sort back then because we were just so tired of it all. There was so much endless navigating and rock climbing and sun and hiking up and down and down and up and up and down forever that we had, to some extent, had it.

In short, we continued through miles and miles more of Paradise Canyon, but when a person is hiking thousands of miles they become prey sometimes to what I like to call tunnel hiking. This affliction could come on one at any time and turn a complex, beautiful nature journey into a forced march, a pounding, bleary-eyed trudge of one foot in front of the other forever. Oliver was less prey to it than I, but looking back now I can see why I had one of my worst episodes of tunnel hiking during this particular phase of my Agua Fria journey.

The first reason was that due to what I had found in the future paradise of Paradise Canyon I now knew that ending my hike early, a tantalizing balm I had long been soothing myself with, was now only possible at the expense of a terrible disaster for the whole world. The second was that I knew I was in my final few weeks with Oliver, and it turned out that not only did I really really like Oliver, I was also profoundly scared of being all alone again.

For the first of these problems there really wasn't much help, but Oliver eventually came through on the second, sort of. It was on the day where we had come to Paul's Ferry, which was the second bridge over the Bluestone River in hundreds of miles, and marked an important point in our trail. Here we would cross the river and actually, finally, climb all of the way out of the canyon, heading out to the high elevation woods and ultimately to the town of Kohlrabi.

We were lunching by the river, which, for all our long traveling along it, was a surprisingly rare event because our hiking was nearly always working along two or three levels of cliffs above it. Our gorp was running dangerously low, but we had some good water and a few precious lembas left, which we had decided to finish off then and there as a way to say goodbye to the canyon and river. 

During that lunch Oliver turned to me and said "You know, I would continue on with you all the way if I could." He paused. "But I can't."

"Why not?" I asked trying not to be sullen.

"I can feel it already." Said Oliver. "I can't be too far away from my own land. I'll just fade out."

"So how long?" I asked. It felt to me like he was dying, or maybe I was.

"Kohlrabi for sure? Maybe a few nights after." He said, referring to our next town.

I nodded.

"Someone else is coming after me, you know." Oliver added. "To, you know, help."

I looked up at him.

"You won't like her at all." He said in a way that gave me a chill. "But try to give her a chance. She's on our side."

"What side is that, exactly?" I asked.

"See." Oliver said. "She'd probably answer that question.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Picture break with tigers!


And now this:

An exciting odyssey through an assortment of vaguely recent picture taking!

First, this fascinating fellow from a fresco on the wall of one of the local churches:

A tree growing out of the yellow stone on the Mississippi:

A rare self portrait from out of a lawn ornament:

Taking pictures from my hastily assembled duck blind, I am suddenly spotted!

The promised tigers, some of them famous! There may be as many as four.