photo of the week

From the Top

This is neither a view from space nor from an aircraft.  Nor is it a mysterious message left in a field by some perverted and nefarious occult spirit.  It is a view from a pickup truck atop a levee in Phillips County, Arkansas.  What you see is a rice field harvested a few weeks back, which subsequently was filled with rainwater for sure and/or perhaps flooded on purpose as precursor to the impending duck season in the Delta.  Ruts left in soft soil by heavy harvesting machinery create the random patterns.  Late afternoon sun gives the rice stubble a nice warm glow as the impounded water reflects a “partly cloudy” sky.  This view is seen exclusively from the top of the levee.

balcony of the levee

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Most Delta levees are topped by a road.  Most of those are gravel.  A few are paved.  On this adventure we traversed the gravel variety.

I was ostensibly traveling to Elaine, Arkansas, to photograph bird houses.  The folks there tout themselves as “America’s Bird House Capital.”  Their downtown probably has way, way more birdhouses per square foot than whomsoever is trailing them in second place.

Alas, the trip experienced a fatal flaw.  At one point on the journey a traveler has a choice of continuing toward Elaine on Arkansas Highway 318 or veering off onto a “long-cut” via Phillips County Roads 618 and 529 respectively.  One road runs into the other and both go down levees.  I answered the siren call of the levees.


Patterns of Cypress

Skinny cypress trees with deceased “lily-pad” leaves in their fall palette make an interesting pattern against a reflected sky in the “bar” (in genteel English, “borrow”) pit at the base of the levee.  This reflection is available at no other place.

The Bird Houses Can Wait.

Delta levees with roads atop are the balcony of the Delta.  You are 50 feet or so above surrounding Mother Earth and have a great view of what is going on below.  After proceeding down the levee for a bit, I decided to temporarily postpone the bird house trip.  There was much here to shoot that is temporary in nature.  The bird houses aren’t going anywhere.

deltacow-g deltacow-h deltacow-i deltacow-j

A Symbiotic Relationship

There are always enterprising cattlemen who use the levees as pasture land for their stock.  This levee was no different.  I found this herd of cattle, which looks like bovine diversity in practice.  The cattle and levees have a symbiotic relationship.  The levees provide food to the cattle and the cattle provide fertilizer and lawn trimming services to the levee.
Mind you, I am no cattle expert, but in this group you see signs of Holstein, Charolais , Hereford, Angus, Jersey and what appears to be the Appaloosa of the cow world.  The feeding station where I found these cattle was quite long, so the next three pictures are different members of the herd.

Breaking Free

Further down the levee, the rugged individuals who apparently have little or no herd loyalty were nice enough to pose.


Curious but Aloof

This Charolais lady was curious, but remained aloof


Of Like Mind

This angus was of like mind with the Chaolais.  Curious but aloof.


Not So Aloof

At the opposite end of the aloof spectrum, this Angus came closer.


A Most Friendly Cow

This Charolais was the friendliest of the bunch.  She seemed to say, “Hi there, wanna bite of my grass.”  I politely declined, having had my roughage for the day in the form of Cheerios.


Remnant of a Bygone Age

As usual on a drive through the rural Delta, you see remnants of how things used to be.  This trip was no different.  At the junction of Arkansas Highways 318 and 316, north of the aforementioned Highway 318-county road split, you’ll see this old farm home, long since devoid of occupants.  We cannot put an age on it, other than to note the presence of asbestos siding, which was all the rage in the late forties and early fifties.

Levee riding should become a recognized southern sport — or perhaps it should recognized as some sort of recurring anxiety disorder among certain southern males.  And then perhaps further research is needed.  I volunteer.


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But wait, there's more —
After the cattle experience
I happened across a small herd of donkeys
and a palomino horse. All were friendly.
One of the donkeys really wanted to join me
in the cab of the truck,
and pursued this longing headfirst.
See photographic evidence at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.  Click, go, and enjoy.

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