Good Persimmon Season

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014We made a swing by Trail of Tears State Park to check the status of a persimmon tree next to the lake. That baby was so full of fruit the branches were pulling down. One of the dark orange ones came off the branch easily, but it was still firm enough that I wouldn’t risk biting into it.

A few have started falling

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014I picked up several persimmons that had fallen on the ground, looking for ones that had that “squishy” feel that indicates they might be pucker-proof. Mother is the persimmon expert, so I let her have her pick. She rejected the one plucked from the tree as being “green,” despite its orange color. She tossed out two that were soft, but had worm holes. The last she pronounced as good-tasting but hot from the afternoon sun.

Here’s what the tree looked like last year when the leaves were gone.

Waiting for the first frost

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014Tradition has it that persimmons aren’t good until after the first frost, but we’ve had ripe persimmons in late summer off a tree at Tower Rock, and the one today was sweet. I think the “first frost” rule has more to do with how long the fruit ripens rather than anything the frost has to do with it.

Speaking of tradition, have you ever used the seed to predict what kind of winter you’re going to have? If you cut the seed in half and see a fork, it is said the winter will be mild; a spoon means lots of snow, and a knife means it will be bitterly cold.

Seeds cut by the Farmers’ Almanac’s Persimmon Lady, who lives in North Carolina, came up all spoons this year. She makes it clear that the forecast is only good for the immediate area, but comments from other parts of the country sound like you should make sure you know where your snow shovel is.

I haven’t checked any Cape persimmon seeds. I value my fingertips too much to try to split the seeds, and Mother faints at the sight of blood.

Cape Rock tree is loaded, too

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014There’s a tree next to the railroad tracks in the parking area below Cape Rock that is loaded, but the persimmons are marble-sized, less than a third or half the size of the ones at Trail of Tears. What few persimmons have fallen were small and hard, so we couldn’t do a taste test on them.

M/V Thomas K Off Cape Rock

Cape Rock 05-02-2014No trip to Cape is complete without at least one trip to Cape Rock. I got there just as the M/V Thomas K was pushing a string of barges south. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Thomas K was once Kay A. Eckstein

Cape Rock 05-02-2014Dick’s Towboat Gallery reports that the Thomas K was originally named the Kay A. Eckstein when she was built in 1982. The name was changed in March 1989.

Shipwrecklog reports that the Kay A. Eckstein lost 16 of the 30 barges she was pushing on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg March 23, 2011, when she struck a railroad bridge when the river was flooding. The story is a bit confusing because the first site said the name changed BEFORE 2011.

One Kay A. Eckstein became reef

There may have been more than one Kay A. Eckstein. A report by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, Inc., said that “On May 23 1999 an engine room fire erupted on the Kay A. Eckstein. The vessel was proceeding upriver in the Mississippi River, near St. Francisville, La., pushing 29 barges. All 10 crewmembers aboard the vessel were safely evacuated. Due to the 40,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board at the time of the incident, the fire continued for 12 hours, and the vessel sank near the bank of the river as a result of the water burden created during fire-fighting. The vessel was re-floated, and after completing an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire, Marquette Transportation agreed to fund the expense associated with cleaning and preparing the hull as a reef donation and the cost of transporting the vessel to the deployment site.

On May 20, 2005, the vessel was sunk to become a fishing reef after the wheel house was cut off to keep it from becoming a hazard in the shallow water.

 

 

 

Big Magnet Passes Cape

Jim Stone watches big magnet pass  by Trail of Tears 07-17-2013Jim Stone, Central High School science whiz, emailed me all excited about a big magnet that was going to be passing through Cape on the Mississippi River. He sent me a link with a near-live GPS tracking do-hickey so I’d be sure to know when it was coming.

That’s Jim on the right. He’s a Professor of Physics at Boston University and an all-around big-whoop in the world of chasing tiny particles that may or may not exist and if he finds them I don’t know if he’s going to put them in a coffee can or what.

That’s not the way he explains it, but that’s the short version. The woman in red was just a tourist who stopped by the Trail of Tears overlook. Click on any photo to make it larger.

It’s coming! It’s coming!

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013The Paul Revere of the magnet world sent me a frantic text Wednesday morning: “Magnet already past Cairo. Will pass Cape in about 2 hours. I will miss it since I am just now boarding my flight. I’ll check when I land but will most likely catch it at St Louis or slightly south. It seems to be moving rather fast.

He sent the alert at 6:30; I got it at 8:30, so I figured two hours from Cairo would mean that I would miss it by the time I put my pants on. I pulled up the tracking chart and saw it was just making the curve down by New Madrid. Jim may be a great physicist, but he didn’t learn one basic rule: boats go faster downstream than they go upstream. It was going to be awhile before it got to Cape.

I had some interviews in Perry County, so I passed the ball to Fred Lynch and James Baughn at The Missourian. James managed to snag it as it was passing Cape.

A pretty day on the Mississippi

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013Jim’s plane landed and he caught the magnet at Cape Rock. I wrapped up my interview and blasted off to the overlook at Trail of Tears. The route I took was hilly and curvy and one where I know (I hope) every curve, so I made good time. The brakes sure smelled hot when I pulled in, though.

Jim wasn’t there, but I heard boat radio traffic that sounded like two barges were setting up to make a pass. Sure enough, way down to the south, I could see a towboat pushing a single barge with a white thing on top of it. It might have been unique, but it wasn’t too exciting to look at.

Passing the lookout

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013I called Jim to tell him it had arrived, but would probably take a good 20 minutes or more to make it out of sight. His timing was perfect: he made it when it was almost right in front of the lookout.

Wire break = kaput

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013A very nice woman was intrigued by the idea of something going by that was too big and delicate to be lifted by helicopter and couldn’t be hauled by truck from Brookhaven National Laboratory at Long Island, New York, to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the Chicago suburbs, its new home.

Jim went into great detail about how its core was created with a single coil of wire and if that wire was broken or damaged, then the whole thing was kaput. (I’ve been photographing the last generation of German speakers in the pioneer communities of Perry county, so I’m hearing stuff like “kaput” all the time.)

He went on to explain the calibration process and how they fine-tune it by placing a piece of paper under a single strand of wire until the magnet output is exactly even. Once that’s done, they throw a pet throgmorton (or something that sounded like that) into the middle of the magnet and check for deviation.

Check break room for refrigerator magnets

Big magnet passes Trail of Tears 07-17-2013

“If they find a deviation, I assume the first thing they check would be if anybody added a refrigerator magnet in the break room,” I volunteered. Scientists take these things seriously, so I could tell he was not amused.

When he thought I wasn’t looking, though, I saw him writing “Check break room for refrigerator magnets” in a small pocket notebook.

If you really want to know what the magnet is used for, check out the Fermilab website. My explanation is easier to understand.

Had time for burgers at Mississippi Mud

Big magnet passes Tower Rock 07-17-2013As soon as the target was out of sight, we headed up to Altenburg to the Mississippi Mud Tavern in Altenburg, where I had the second-best hamburger of the whole Florida-Missouri expedition.

I calculated that it was going to take about 1-1/2 hours for it to get 15 or so miles up to Tower Rock. My guess was pretty close. We had scarcely pulled in before we could hear the throb of engines coming up the river. The Miss Kate and her precious cargo managed to make it past The Demon That Devours Travelers, so we went upriver to catch it passing under what was (and may still be) the world’s longest suspension pipeline.

Passing the pipeline

Big magnet passes suspension pipeline 07-17-2013We had a pleasant conversation with some guys enjoying the breeze and some brews. While we were standing there, Jim noticed a sign that had been used for target practice.

“What if somebody took a shot at it while it was in transit? That thing passed through Kentucky and Tennessee where somebody might have been tempted to take a potshot at something that looks like a flying saucer,” he obsessed.

 

 

 

Interested in Cape Calendar?

Towboat Albert M. passes Cape Rock 09-03-1966I’ve been pulling together enough photos from the ’60s to fill a calendar from October 2013 through December 2014. If you are a regular reader, there’s a good chance you’ve seen most of the pictures. I’m racing to get it done and a sample run printed before I leave for Cape June 25.

One of the tasks is to narrow down the photos to ones that you could stand to look at for a month. For example, here are three shots of Cape Rock. (I mean, you CAN’T have a publication about Cape without showing Cape Rock, right?

Do you like the one of the Towboat Albert M?

Towboat Issaquena

Towboat Issaquena north of Cape Rock on the Mississippi River 07-24-1967Or, do you like the Towboat Issaquena passing the water plant intake north of Cape Rock better?

Submarines vs towboats

Cape Rock c 1966Maybe you think submarines and not towboats when you remember Cape Rock. Anyway, if you had to make the choice, which one do you think best represents your memory of Cape Rock. (No, a totally black page won’t work.)

Lots to work out

I have to finish a photo exhibit for the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, get photos together for a future gallery show in Cape next year, rough out a couple of Ohio calendars and assemble a portfolio for some folks in St. Louis. If the blog is a little light for a few days, I hope you’ll understand.

Back to the calendar

So, who is interested? I’m estimating them to cost about $20 each. I have to see if there is anyone in Cape who will handle them locally. Since you folks are scattered all over the country, I’ll have to find out what it will cost to mail them. I think the folks at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum found it was about $5, including shipping materials, but don’t hold me to it.

If there’s enough interest, I may try to knock off a color calendar of contemporary SE Missouri photos for this fall or next year.

Is it worth the effort?

Earlier Calendars

I’ve published three so far.

Glimpses of East Perry County

2012 East Perry County Calendar coverGlimpses of East Perry County

Ordinary People

2013 Ordinary People CalendarOrdinary People

Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg

2013 Trinity Lutheran Church Calendar 10-10-2012 v1_Page_01Trinity Lutheran Church (same link as Ordinary People above)

 

 

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