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By Joseph Dempsey Tolley

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Going forth with a camera on the roads less traveled is like fishing in the Arkansas River. You never know what you will catch.

Just east of Mountainburg, Arkansas, I saw an old building which I deemed needed a good shooting. As I busied myself with the anal-retentive aspects of the art — in this case, digging through my rats nest of a camera bag looking for a misplaced tripod connector — I looked up and lo, there was a guy at standing at the tailgate of my truck.

He wondered what I was up to. I responded that the old building intrigued me and I wanted to shoot it. He allowed as how this was his property and that was why he was curious. I allowed that since it was his property, his curiosity was appropriate and well-placed and did he mind if I photographed it. He allowed as how that was just fine and allowed me to proceed. As I set up, we introduced ourselves and struck-up a conversation.

However, before the setup was complete, up drives one of his friends in a welding truck. He, too, was curious in a benign sort of way. He cut the engine, a noisy, rattling diesel, and joined the conversation. Once the explanation was in full gear and the newcomer understood my intentions, both of my newfound friends allowed as how there was another exceptional photo-op just a few miles away. I allowed as how I was interested. And they revealed the details.

Turns out, there's this old (real-live) log cabin, intact and close by.

The late owner and occupant, elderly Mrs. Tolley, was implored by relatives in Dallas (the one just east of Fort Worth) to abandon the cabin and take up residence with them in the Big D. Mrs. Tolley steadfastly refused their generosity for years, but toward the end of her life, she relented and moved out west.

During Mrs. Tolley's several years as a member of the rural neighborhood round about Mountainburg, all of the neighbors checked on her frequently, ensuring that her living needs and daily requirements were well taken care of. She, Mrs. Tolley, it seems, was everyone's shared responsibility. Sounds to me like the folks in that neighborhood had some good "up-bringin.'"

Finding the cabin was not a navigational challenge. Just turn right at the sign which says "Tolley's Hole." When you pull into the place, there it is, live and in living color. A log cabin. Here an explanation is due. Years ago when folks acquired a "place," the first order of business was to construct some sort of residence to get in out of the weather. As the family experienced successes here and there, additions were made to the original structure.

These houses were never complete. Work-in-progress fits nicely.

Frequently, these beginner homes burgeoned into a lot of square feet.

Design was by the seat of your pants. Some of them became large and probably required a map to find ones way through the rabbit warren of rooms.

This was not exactly the case in Tolley's Hole, although the principle was in place. The front and back of the cabin are pure log construction.

Some slats and various other permutations of cut lumber make up the outer walls. There's bound to be a paragraph or two to explain this, but the information was not forthcoming and escapes my imagination.

The first thing you see is a large tree emblazoned with eyeballs, a nose, and a set of lips (not exactly Rolling Stones, but comfortably close). Under that is a Beware of Dog sign — from a hardware store probably. There was no dog, but the sign is still a fine threat. Also in plain view was the requisite "Private Property, No Trespassing" sign affixed to the front of the cabin. There are probably 18 gazillion of these signs currently on display in Arkansas. Must be something in the water.

My thanks to JR and Rick for sticking my nose in this opportunity. This whole adventure of suspicion, reasonable explanation, and subsequent discovery of goodness is a refreshment we all need on a regular basis.

It's there. You merely have to let it happen.

N O T E :  
Tripod mounted Nikon D200 with remote release cord / Nikon G f3.5-5.6 zoom / ISO 100 / Post processed with Photomatix HDR and Photoshop CS3

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