Scenic Afternoon

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014I had to make a quick trip up to the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum to go over details for my Last Generation presentation this weekend.

It gave me a chance to do some scenic sightseeing. This is the tiny gravel road leading to Tower Rock. The leaves are getting ready to do their color thing. They should be in full show in a few more days, just in time for Wife Lila to see it. She’s flying from St. Louis on Cape Air, so she’ll be low enough to see the foliage from the sky down instead of from the ground up.

The river’s up

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014The river’s up, and the water swirling around Tower Rock has a lot of debris floating in it. I thought was was going to get to shoot a video of a huge log getting sucked into the beginning of a giant whirlpool, but it escaped the whirling waters. Then, just as quickly as it formed, the whirlpool dissipated like a funnel cloud pulling back up into the clouds.

Piles of persimmons

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014Mother’s favorite tree overlooking The Rock has been dropping persimmons like crazy. The ground is a carpet of sweet goo and seeds. The ladybugs, bees, yellow jackets and butterflies are having a field day sucking up the sweet nectar.

Normally I would have gathered up all the fruit worth saving, but reader Carol Lincoln Skowbo messaged me the other day that her neighbor’s tree leaves a mess of persimmons in her yard and asked if we wanted any. You can guess the answer. In the last week, we have been on a persimmon mashing binge. Carol and Mother have been baking all kinds of concoctions with the pumpkin-like pulp, and it has all been good. I’ll go into more detail in a later post.

Beauty in all directions

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014There is beauty everywhere you look at Tower Rock: look down and and watch bugs crawling over orange ornaments; look out and see the Mississippi River swirling around the rock the natives called “The Demon that Devours Travelers;” look up and see a gossamer tapestry of clouds.

Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Co.

Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Co 10-19-2014The late afternoon sun highlighted the sprayers playing over huge stacks of logs at the Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Company. The logs are trucked in from all over the region.

I have to compliment the drivers of the log trucks: every driver on that road has been nice enough to pass my bicycle with plenty of room to spare. Some of the guys will give a friendly toot and wave as they go by.

Red cattle on green grass

Farm near Fruitland 10-19-2014We were coming up on the “golden hour” just before I hit Hwy 61 north of Fruitland. I liked these cows well enough that I drove on until I could find a safe place to make a U-turn.

When I looked at them, I thought of a comment in an ancient Reader’s Digest. An oil company was trying to convince a farmer that they should be allowed to drill on his land. “Just think what it’ll be like to look out over your fields and see lights of all colors winking back at you. What would be prettier than gazing out at something that’s like a huge Christmas tree?”

“Red cattle on green grass,” the laconic farmer replied. “No sale.”

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.

Stalking the Wild Persimmon

You know that Mother is a big fan of the persimmons growing at Tower Rock, but she keeps her eyes open for other ones, too. Right after I shot the photo of the rennovated dam at Trail of Tears State Park’s Lake Boutin, we cruised through the lake’s parking lot.

I had just about made the circle when I slammed on the brakes and put the car in whoa-back. For once I had spotted something before my co-pilot.

This tree had already dropped its leaves, leaving its fruit shining like miniature pumpkins against bright blue sky. The ground was orange with fallen persimmons. I gathered up a handful and took them to Mother for a rating. She said they weren’t bad, but that they didn’t compare to the Tower Rock ones.

Sleeting in Cape

I’m hearing reports that it’s sleeting around Cape this evening. Mother flew into St. Louis from visiting Brother David’s family in Tulsa over Thanksgiving. She said she made it back to Cape with only a few sprinkles on the windshield. I imagine she has a fire in the fireplace and her electric blanket turned on.

I guess I’d better run one more fall picture before folks get the gloomy gray day blahs.

The Leaves Turned

A friend up in Perry County called Monday to say I should get right up there before the leaves turned. When I got there on Tuesday, I said, “They look pretty good to me.”

“They’ve started falling today,” he said.

Wednesday was errand-running day, and Wednesday evening brought a cold front with gusty winds and frog-strangling rainfall. Somebody nearby said their rain gauge recorded 2-1/2 inches of the wet stuff. Mother’s yard was covered with fallen walnuts

The Jackson City Park leaves were still pretty, but the colors weren’t as vibrant as they were the day before.

Broke my rule

I broke my rule of “shoot it when you see it, otherwise the magic is liable to leak out.”

The temperatures were in the high 60s and felt great, but the color wasn’t as nice as two days ago. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Road to Tower Rock

The drive to Altenburg Tuesday was spectacular. Thursday, it was merely “nice.” The trees on the tiny road leading to Tower Rock were still pretty when the light was behind them.

Orange with persimmons

Perhaps the greatest victims of the high winds and rain were the super-sweet persimmons at the Tower Rock parking area. The ground and rocks were orange with squished persimmons and buzzing with bees. Persimmons from two trees on the south end of the picnic area have smaller, tougher fruit. I picked up about a pint of ripe, but not splattered pieces to take home to Mother as part of her extended Birthday Season.

Adding to my disappointment was a rise in the river levels. The river is at 9 feet and going up, two feet higher than the 7 feet it needs to be in order to walk out to The Rock.