A Monumental Walk

May 30, 2016 Linda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – The bunny is still there. Remember the bunny I mentioned, who held so still as I approached the Lewis & Clark Trailhead Plaza three years ago? Bunny was intent on clover today and paid me no mind. I was determined to get a good picture of Mr Lewis and Mr Clark and had brochure in hand to explain every detail. The monument is called the Corps of Discovery and the sculptor was Sabra Tull Meyer; the entire work consists of five figures – four men and a dog; the figures all together weigh 2000 pounds. There is so much interesting information in the brochure I won’t even attempt to paraphrase; I’ll give it to you straight. Four men and a dog!

30 Walk Lewis ClarkInformation provided by City of Jefferson Lewis & Clark Task Force. The four men constituted the “Captains’ Mess” during the up-river voyage in 1804. Pictured in order going left to right are York, Meriwether Lewis, Seaman, William Clark, George Drouillard. Are you familiar with York, and Drouillard? » read more


God Bless, America

30 JC BandMay 30, 2016 Linda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – From the Star Spangled Banner to the Stars and Stripes Forever; from the Star Spangled Banner again to God Bless America; my head is reeling with patriotic vibes as I exit the Missouri capitol and step out into the sun. I wish I had an interactive website so you could click an arrow and hear it all; I wish I had a recording so I could go straight to my room and listen to both concerts again. How can I describe? I was sitting in the First Christian Church at 1 PM, front row center, when Paul Hinman lifted his conductor’s baton and the Jefferson City Community Symphonic Band began to play. And I was sitting in the Capitol Rotunda at 3 PM, front row 30 JC Capitol 3right, when the Monticello Singers lifted their voices in song. It was definitely worth an 800-mile drive, I decided, so glad I had come. How many hours, I think, how many hours work went into the making of these concerts; how many inconveniences overcome? From the program listings I can count more than 50 in the Band; more than 20 in the Singers. Imagine the coordination required, the community support that has to come forth. God bless you everyone, as Tiny Tim would say. Good job! Let me tell you some of my favorites; things that overtopped the awesome chart. » read more


Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones

30 JC Cemetery VeteransLinda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – It was a solemn ceremony. Taps always makes me cry; the other music too – the National Anthem, This is My Country, When Johnny Comes Marching Home; quartets a capella, the droning of bagpipes, the two-bell toll as the names of the recent dead are called. It was meaningful too; the crowd rowed up under the shading trees; the veterans standing to the edge, Legion patches on their vests; the visitors with flowers in hand, looking for a special grave; the green, green grass and the pure white stones.

30 JC Cemetery Stone GrassBurial dates in the Jefferson City National Cemetery go back to 1861; it started out as a burial place for Civil War soldiers from the area. The site was surveyed for classification as a national cemetery, but its official designation didn’t happen until 1867, after about 350 internments. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Place in 1998; it is closed to new internments now, except for veterans and eligible family members in an existing gravesite.

30 JC Cemetery UnknownI wandered among the markers; Site 580 marked the resting place of an Unknown; connect the dots; an unknown family somewhere, sometime, grieved. Over there a tiny pot of petunias blocked the spouse’s name of Elsie L, the wife, b 1894 d 1985, a 30 JC Cemetery Wifelong long life; a pure white stone. Not every grave had flowers, but every one, every single one, was graced with an American flag.

The Memorial Day program was sponsored by the Jefferson City Veteran’s Council; a luncheon for veterans and their families was held at American Legion Post 5 afterwards. Next for me was the concert at First Christian Church for more inspiring music; as I headed up the hill towards the gate, the plaintive sound of Taps followed me all the way.


Déjà vu All Over Again

29 JC Capitol up the hillMay 29, 2016 Linda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – “What are your plans for Memorial Day?” people start asking early in the month of May. April showers have come and gone and here in this heat the May flowers hit their high mark in April. By Memorial Day school is out and everyone is ready for summer’s change of pace. I don’t have one of those big barge boats for floating around DeGray Lake. My yard isn’t landscaped the way I want it yet, 25 flagsnor my screen porch built, for lazy hammock naps or evening cookouts and a crowd. “I had a great Memorial Day in 2013,” I told friend Janice. “I was in Jefferson City on the Journey then. Concerts all afternoon, morning ceremonies at the National Cemetery, barbecue at the end of the day; it was great! And Jefferson City is a true All-American town, with hanging flower baskets and benches, and that gorgeous capitol, and the Missouri River, so cozy and so historical.” I went on, extolling the virtues of such a charming place, and such friendly people, when the idea struck. I’m not THAT far from Jefferson City; Missouri is just the next state north, well heck, I can do that again! And so I did.

First I emailed Bill Stine, who performed with the Monticello Singers on Memorial Day 2013. He assured me the group was performing at 3 PM in the Capitol, just as before, and warmly invited me to please come again. Not long after I received an email from Paul Hinman, Conductor of the Jefferson City Community Symphonic Band; he’d heard I might be coming and invited me to their concert at First Christian Church at 1 PM. Online I found information about the special ceremony at the Jefferson City National Cemetery at 10:30 AM. It all fit; déjà vu was taking shape, everything lining up, smooth as silk. » read more


This Land Is My Land

Little White House w Red Brick House Next Door NLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Napoleon once claimed this land, and sold it to Thomas Jefferson, but guess what, it’s mine now. I’m talking about my little half-acre of the world here in Arkadelphia; take note, I’m a homeowner now. There is a document dated March 31, 2016 recorded in the Clark County courthouse that affirms title to a particular piece of land in my name; ah, land, the bottom-line definition of commitment. For land is our most basic resource; from land comes security. Explorers have roved the world for land, wars have been fought over it, treaties governing its use have been signed, and sometimes, ignored. Surveyors sectioned newly-claimed land into measurable pieces, and realtors make a pretty good living to this day as people trade those pieces, back and forth.

01 My Front DoorAs for me, I just wanted to hunker down in peace and quiet, to paint-up fix-up as I please; even the vagabond in me needs a place to call home. But who, I wanted to know, lived here before me? Our Clark County Historical Museum has fragments of Caddo Indian pottery on display from earlier times; the path to the Ouachita River bluff has interpretive markers that tell of Caddoan life here a long, long time ago. Before, well, you know, before they had to leave. » read more


Hit The Trail

Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Sacagawea was the original backpacker. She just slapped that little baby Pomp onto her back and struck out across the hills. The only female in the (likely) crude and smelly crew of Men on a Mission for the President, she trekked westward with skill and patience, all the while nursing a baby and nurturing them all. Reckon she ever thought she’d be famous? With a statue of herself and her baby in Statuary Hall in our national capitol? And that she and Pomp would be portrayed on a US Treasury gold dollar? (The only baby featured on a coin, by the way.) I love the story of this woman, who has more schools and creeks and monuments named to her honor than any other woman in the United States. That’s why I am particularly honored myself to have my picture of her statue featured on a US National Park poster. No fooling! Ryan Cooper, a geographer for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, asked my permission to use a photo from my August 27, 2012 blog, He Called Her Janey, written while I was in Bismarck, North Dakota. “I want to use it on a poster celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016,” he explained. I was pleased to grant him that permission. And I am pleased to share with you the poster he created. Isn’t it great?

Ryan’s 2016 Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail campaign is available for you to follow on Facebook and other social media. And to learn more about this 3,700-mile trail that passes through 11 states and includes more than 100 sites, go to the NPS website, https://www.nps.gov/lecl/planyourvisit/directions.htm How close is the site nearest you? » read more


What Did Tennessee

2016.02.choochooLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, ArkansasWhat did Tennessee, boys, what did Tennessee? Remember that old Scout song? Entertainment around the campfire, roast a weinie, toast a marshmallow, sing nonsense till you pass out in your tent. What did Delaware? What does Iowa? Where has Oregon? These and other intellectual questions (What does Mississip?) kept me smiling as I sang my way across Mississippi into Tennessee and then back to Arkansas this month (she saw what Arkansas.) My turnaround point for a little vacation was Chattanooga, where I lived when my children were growing up, and again later 2016.02.betty and linda pwhen I became “Ms Chattanooga,” a spokeperson for a beautiful city; so precious to me I wrote a guidebook about it (Chattanooga Great Places) and a second guidebook about the surrounding area (SE Great Trips). And then (it follows) a weekly travel column for the Chattanooga Times entitled “Here or There” which focused on things to experience in and around that lovely town. (Me, left, with books and illustrator Betty Harrelson, Books A Million in Chattanooga, 1996.)

Those were very happy days, living in a place I loved and then pointing out to everyone how wonderful it was! That’s what we all should do, I believe. Just think, if every single person in the US of A really cared about their homeplace, and bragged about it, and worked to make it the absolute finest place in their part of the world, then – well gee! No urban blight, no rural downtrod, no crumbling infrastructures; you get the idea. So here’s my message, wherever you are. TODAY, do these three things: » read more


Food Insecurity and the CCEFP

Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A round-about skew of circumstances brought me back to grant writing a few months ago. Yes, the writing of grant proposals in order to raise money for a cause. In this particular case, a very good cause, right here in Clark County, Arkansas. How much do you know about HUNGER in America? The politically correct term is “food insecurity” which is defined as being uncertain where your next meal is coming from. Riding across the vast wheat fields of Montana and corn fields of Nebraska, it seems like a fairy tale gone bad to think enough food isn’t getting to enough people. How could that be?

food cod fishermenConsider the seafood along our coasts and rivers – Gulf shrimp, northwest salmon, northeast cod, and those famous Mississippi catfish. Consider the beef cattle in Texas, the pork raised in Iowa. Consider the milk and cheeses of Wisconsin, the potatoes of Idaho, the Florida oranges, the California grapes. Consider that Arkansas is the food grapestop rice-growing state in the country, producing nearly 9 billion pounds annually. Yet Arkansas ranks as the 2nd most food insecure state in the nation, with 19.9% of its people not having enough to eat. That is 1 out of every 5! In Arkadelphia’s Clark County, where that rate is even higher, a group of people, chins set and purposeful, decided to step up and do something about it. An idea is where everything begins, and that idea stretched out over the how’s and who’s until finally, incorporated with by-laws and a few donations in hand, the Clark County Ecumenical Food Pantry (CCEFP) was born. Exactly who are they, and what have they done since their beginnings in August 2014?

During its first year of operation, 456 families representing 1,022 Clark County food-insecure residents enrolled in the CCEFP program. Working with a first-year budget of $7,000, approximately 43,500 pounds of food with an estimated retail value of $101,400 were distributed to those families. How in blazes was that possible? » read more


Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more


Pioneers and Pilgrimages

30.Figures (2)Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I bought two figures at Hobby Lobby a few months back. One is a dark-skinned woman with plaited hair, her black braids draped over her shoulders atop a fringed shawl; the other a fair-skinned woman with slightly reddish hair, cut shoulder length, the hood of her shawl softly framing her face. Native American? Scotch-Irish? Wearing finely tanned animal skins and finely stitched linen? Both are carrying baskets filled with food – pumpkins, squash, apples, grapes. Both are beautiful, and serene. “The spirit of Thanksgiving,” I thought when I spotted them. “My heritage, and just right for the November dining table.” I added gourds from the grocery; odd-shaped greens and yellows; plus several round ones tinged with orange. Brother was coming for most of Thanksgiving week; coming to this place we’d found together by an accident of fate. Have I told you this before? The Journal? The Search? The Arkansas tragedy?

It’s a story of our country really; our own personal connection to thousands of stories of the great westward migration, stories of pioneers, of courage, and change. Ours centers on a little girl named Martha Jane, who rolled through Clark County, Arkansas in November 1849 at the tender age of four. What an adventure! » read more