» May 30th, 2016
Linda 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.
Burial 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.
I 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 long 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.
» May 29th, 2016
May 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, nor 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
» April 30th, 2016
Linda 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.
As 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
» March 30th, 2016
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
» February 29th, 2016
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – What 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 when 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
» January 31st, 2016
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?
Consider 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 top 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
» December 31st, 2015
Linda 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. “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 card 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
» November 30th, 2015
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
» October 30th, 2015
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – As if October weren’t already my favorite month, this October dazzled. Early in the month was Garden Club, just the regular monthly meeting, but held at the Speights home where every room was decked for autumn, especially the dining room with a table centerpiece even prettier than the food. I was on the refreshment committee so got to hang out in the sunny kitchen which overlooks a stone patio complete with fountain, all tucked into the edge of the woods, trees just beginning to turn. The program was “Landscape Design,” ART in nature’s purest form. And then there was a three-day event, the “9th Annual Round About Artist Studio Tour,” where people come from all over the country to visit working artists’ studios, learn a little about technique, and load up the car with treasures for home. Sponsored by the Caddo River Art Guild, this year it featured 21 artists spread over the Caddo River area from Burrow Road to Whispering Ridge, with a large group showing at the Art Center downtown. ART in every form from fiber to fused glass to watercolor to wood carving.
Then, last week, three events in a row, dot, dot, dot: “Dressing Henrietta” at the Clark County History Museum featured two enterprising and historically savvy DAR ladies who “dressed” a mannequin (Henrietta) in a humorous but educational presentation about clothing in the 1700s. Next was the opening reception for “Quilting Treasure: A Batik World,” at the Art Center downtown, with 42 incredible quilts from the Clark County Quilter’s Guild displayed wall to wall to wall, remaining on exhibit through November 21. The topper was “125 Years of Hats,” over at Proctor Hall on the Henderson University campus, a charming and informative display of millinery history. Research was done by the Fashion Merchandising students; the hats are part of the collection of 600+ that have been donated to the University, from cloche to veiled and fur to flowered. All three events illustrated the progression of need (clothing and quilts and hats for warmth) to creativity (it can be beautiful and is fun to do). ART with needle and thread. My brain is filled with new insights and historical perspective. “But how do those events fit with capital cities, and the development of our country?” you might ask. I’ll tell you. » read more
» September 30th, 2015
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas — I was invited to speak at the September 24 meeting of the Caddo River Art Guild (CRAG), an avid group whose mission is promoting art and artists in south central Arkansas, http://caddoriverartguild.com/. My mission of course is capital cities, so I talked about “art in the capital cities,” that is, the community’s support of the arts. How Art Thrives was my topic, leading with the question: What does it take to have a thriving arts community?
It takes four things, I proposed, to nods of agreement from around the room:
I selected five uniquely different cities to illustrate:
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Population 67, 947 (about 6 Arkadelphias) because it supports and focuses on the artist more than any other capital city.
Montpelier, Vermont, Population 7,855 (about 3/4 of 1 Arkadelphia!) because it’s the smallest capital city and has the 2nd most artists per capita and the biggest group of volunteers.
And Helena, Montana, Population 28,190 (about 3 Arkadelphias), Lincoln, Nebraska, Population 258,379 (about 24 Arkadelphias), and Indianapolis, Indiana, Population 820,444 (about 77 Arkadelphias) to show it’s not the size of the city that matters, it’s the attitude of its residents. » read more