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Jan. 11, 2004

The plan for Sunday's hike was to do some exploring in the afternoon and then use the golden light before and after sunset to photograph whatever interesting subjects might have turned up. But only a few minutes after we started up a promising-looking gorge along Falling Water Creek it was clear enough that we should have been there sooner.

As Junie and I were working our way upstream, I saw ice formations on bluffs part-way up the hillside on the shady side of the creek, and we edged our way up there to take a look, or I should say, I edged up and Junie flew. The previous night's low had been about 20 degrees, and water spilling off and seeping down the bluffs had created ice sculptures here and there, and although I ended up shooting them for several hours, often standing in ice-water splatter and getting pretty well soaked from the knees down, some of the formations were melting and changing as I watched, and I'm sure if I had been there earlier there would have been even more to explore and photograph.

Junie had sense enough to stay out of the ice water and spent her time scouting the area until she was satisfied, whereupon she took up a post atop a boulder from which she could, and intently did, survey the whole gorge up stream and down and across the way, a canine Jim Bridger in the vast unknown Arkansas wilderness.

After the ice-capades I was ready to descend from the shady hillside and get back into the sunlight to warm up a little, and to do some more exploring farther upstream, but by then there was just enough time to quickly find and set up at a likely spot for photographing during the golden hour, and while there were a few idle minutes to wait as the sun dropped a little lower, I grabbed a snack since I had forgotten to eat anything for lunch.

The creek here was lined up so that it pointed directly at the setting sun, and I had beautiful highlights playing on the water as I shot pictures of boulders and cascades in the creek. Before you could say Ansel Adams the light was failing, and I had pretty much played out all the photo possibilities I could see; so we headed back to the car and headed home. All told we had been abroad in the woods for about five hours, busy exploring or shooting the whole time, but had not made it farther than about 15 minutes away from the car.

Saturday I was able to take Sophie and Frankie for a walk along Lake Fayetteville, although we weren't able to time it as a sunset walk this time. So the trees, the lake, the western sky were all more silver than gold. The ducks had not yet formed up for their procession along the middle of the passage, or had decided to skip it today, and were clumped together in a group as if undecided quite what to do. The day was sunny and warm, and we met more dogs walking their humans than usual along our accustomed route, including a chocolate Lab named Molly, a golden retriever, and a pair of border collie-looking dogs, one of them named Shadow, and both of them beautiful.

Frankie is often frightened of the dogs we meet, as most of them are considerably bigger than she is, and I think that is a perfectly sensible way for her to react, although I do tell her occasionally that she would do well not to act quite so much like prey when she encounters a predator, even if it is just another dog. She usually tells me that that's easy for me to say, since I'm not ten inches tall. I have to concede that her point is well taken.