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Jan. 4, 2004

Saturday was like a warm April day, cloudy and windy. Sunday was a gentle reminder that it was actually January, as the breeze turned from balmy to brisk. And then there was Monday, and there was nothing gentle about Monday, which tattooed "January" on everyone's forehead, and even the dogs jumped back in bed after a short look-see outside.

The preceding Wednesday, the last day of December and of 2003, was a cordial last gift from the passing year, with clear skies and moderate temperatures, perfect for hiking, and the day's hike would be an unusual one for me since I would be taking my nephew Seth along. Since he is a novice hiker, I wanted to take a really bang-up hike with great scenery. So we repeated the walk I took a few weeks ago which began at the Steele Creek campground and followed the Buffalo River Trail east to several lookout points on top of the bluffs along the river. The views were once again suitably awesome, and this time we even spotted a bald eagle riding the thermals up from the river below in an easy spiral until it was far overhead.

Saturday and Sunday I returned for the first time in a long time to a favorite area of mine, Richland Creek, although we actually stopped just short of there and spent our time along Falling Water Creek. It was a somewhat frustrating couple of days, since I came in search of light and packing camera gear and expecting variably cloudy or bright overcast skies, which would have been good for the type of photography I had in mind. Junie and I were like Jake and Elmore in the Reverend Cleophus's church hoping to be struck by heavenly beams of light, and ready to turn flips if we were, but both days were heavily socked in, and we searched for the light and couldn't find it anywhere except for some we found in a waterfall, and we found it there because waterfalls shine with their own light.

This is a picture of one of the fingers of Six Finger Falls, or is it Five Fingers? I counted six, but anyway, the falls are just a place where the creek bed drops about five or six feet and the water is funneled along five or six creases in the bedrock, and this is the third or fourth, one of the middle ones. And so, ladies and gentlemen, with your permission, and without further ado, I give you the Middle Finger, if you'll pardon the expression.