If you caught my recent article on Casi McLean’s Awesome, Bewitching Authors blog you’ll know where I’m coming from with this post. Otherwise,you need only know that when I wrote that piece my sights were set on a getaway among the trees, creeks, wildflowers and historic farm places in NW Arkansas’ Sugar Creek Valley before summer greenery cloaks them from sight.
And a glorious day it was, that brief escape with my husband and our son. Under sunny skies, the valley served up its scenery along with a friendly farmer or two who stopped on the road to chat while we photographed some interesting spot. Checking us out, they were I’d guess, but quite friendly once they learned we were transplanted plains people who know how to appreciate trees and old barns without ripping off wood for some art project. Or at least if we meant to do that we’d be the kind of folks who’d find the owner and ask permission first.
Sugar Creek Valley presents some interesting byways. The road sign at the corner of Buzzard Glory Road evokes an image or two. Seemingly out of nowhere, a boy on a bicycle appeared while we took pictures. The lad didn’t seem much impressed by another trio of strangers posing for one another at the road sign. The area is a magnet for gawkers, locals as well as tourists.
Visions of circling buzzards not your cup of sassafras tea? The turn-off at Songbird Road with its view of roofless stone buildings in the adjoining hollow might fit your taste. A century must have passed since anyone found shelter within those walls.
Farther along the paved road through the valley, iris planted by some long-gone gardener escapes the old house’s yard and down into the ditch. I wondered if the homemaker ordered her rhizomes from the Fields Nursery catalog. Every winter as soon as the catalog arrived my mother pored through the pages, pondering what new flower or shrub she might plant come spring. Judging by the depth of purple in the buds, I don’t think those we found were the common variety of iris familiar in my childhood.
Nearer Pineville, Missouri big homes and barns appropriate for calendar art nestled in the midst of cleared expanses enclosed by white fences. Were the owners descended from pioneers who hung on through thick and thin? Or were we admiring dreams realized for city folks?
Lunch at Haven55 near Pineville, Missouri capped our morning. Havenhurst was an early resort on Little Sugar Creek and the site remains popular for all kinds of water-related activities. The rustic cafe overlooks the stream, which tumbles over cement remains of a 19th century grain mill. We had to wait a bit for a table because the place is popular, but the hamburger with crisp, freshly-cut fries was a cheap ticket for such a picturesque scene.
Do you have a favorite retreat close to home when you need a break? I’d love to hear about it.