photo of the week

St. Mary's Catholic Church

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is clearly the dominant structure in tiny St. Vincent, Arkansas.  What St. Vincent lacks in numbers, it more than makes up with the obvious spirit of the community.  The grounds of the White House or the Palace of Versailles are kept no better than those of St. Mary’s.  The community has been in continuous existence since the mid to late 19th century.  (I am derelict that I did not write down the year, my apologies to all).  The building we see here was completed in 1931.

a day across Arkansas

Sunday, November 3, 2013
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Late October is a good time to traipse across the geography of Arkansas.  The weather is for the most part pleasantly on the cool side and leaves are beginning to change.  It is harvest season.  The environment is on point as it anticipates a season's change.  The deal was on:  A backroads trip winding through the foothills of the Ozarks, through the Grand Prairie, and finally back to the home stomping grounds of the Delta.

Though our departure point was Morrilton, Arkansas, our first stop was St. Vincent, an old community that straddles Arkansas Highway 95 north of Morrilton.  This was not our first visit to St. Vincent.  Last year about this time, we visited LBJ’s Beer and Groceries, the cornerstone of St. Vincent commerce.  Our first visit was in the afternoon when St. Mary’s Church was backlit.  We made a mental note at the time to return in more favorable light — and this was it.

Old Glory

To Remember and To Honor

The good parishioners of St. Mary’s remember their veterans and honor them with these monuments as Old Glory gently flies in a light fall breeze.

magnolia berries

Fruit of the Magnolia

Though not in either of the church pictures, there is a nice Magnolia tree on the grounds.  The tree is in a family way, showing off what could become the next generation of Magnolia trees.  The trees make these large pods about the size of an average pine cone and offer their colorful seed to the world.

Geologists have known for a long time that there were large deposits of natural gas deep below the rolling hills of central Arkansas.  Until the last decade or so, extracting these resources was not cost effective, and there were technological challenges to accessing the gas.  In contemporary world energy markets, the cost-effective barrier fell like the House of Usher.  Concurrently, engineers developed cost-effective methods to bring the marketable hydrocarbons to the surface.  That said, drilling is common in the area, so St. Mary’s is now in second place for the tallest structure in the community as a nearby drilling rig takes the prize.


Rig at Rest

The crew on the drilling rig not far from St. Mary’s in St. Vincent were not working on this Saturday.  Just as well they weren’t.  Taking the time to set up a tripod would probably not have been an option.  The well-organized setup is aiming for natural gas deposits far below where we were standing.

a shack near Cleveland

Entrance Denied

A few miles north of St. Vincent, you’ll drive through Cleveland, a once bustling center of commerce in the hills, now down to a few buildings and a population of around 76.  We visited Cleveland before and photographed a fine old shotgun house.  This time we shot this old structure sitting on the west side of Highway 95 in what might be considered the suburbs of Cleveland.  I have no idea what original purpose it served, but we all can see that the owners want us to keep our grubby hands and persons off the property.

shack from the side

Tarpaper on the Side

A side view of this roadside structure shows a bit of design flair in application of what is commonly known as “tarpaper” siding, which is essentially roofing material with a fake brick motif.

The story of A Day in Arkansas continues at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, but before we depart this page, I am fast forwarding from our trip date, October 26, 2013, to November 1, 2013.  On that Friday, while driving through Sardis, Arkansas, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a tree full of shoes.

shoes in a tree

Climbing Shoes

You just do not expect to see a tree full of shoes.  And you know in your heart, there has to be an explanation — but I haven't found it yet.  Take a look at our Sardis Shoe Tree gallery to see a few more pictures of this find.

The great Fats Waller once produced an album, One Never Know Do One?  What Bro. Waller said then best describes a day trip across this great state.

Photo Notes

Top picture, Nikon D7100, tripod mount, ISO 100, AF S Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR, 1/250 @ f8; Second picture of church, same camera, tripod mount, same ISO, Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 EX DC HSM, 1/200 @ f8; Magnolia pod, same camera, tripod mount, same ISO, same lens, 1/30 @ f5.6; Drilling rig, tripod mount, same camera, same ISO, AF S Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR, 1/640 @ f5; Old building front, same lens, ISO and tripod mount, 1/1000 @ f4; Old building side, ditto on all, 1/250 @ 8; Shoe tree, same camera/lens/ISO, hand held, 1/250 @ f8. All post processed with Photoshop® CC.


see more
The trip across Arkansas continutes:  Take a look at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind and see barns, a repurposed school bus, some old tractors, a guy with antique gas engines and more — all in one day.

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