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Apr. 16, 2005
Last week was the first time in over a month that I had been able to get out into the woods, in a couple of modest hikes where my photographic efforts were largely ineffectual but the effect on my spirits was marked. Ten paces along the trail on that first hike was all it took to bring a peace something like the relief you feel when a noise you didn't know you were hearing suddenly stops and you hear the quiet. In fact it was the first time in a month that I hadn't felt tired and sick, or sick at heart, first from the flu, then from a whacked-out back, and then finally from the death of an old and dear friend.

This week one of the highlights of the weekend occurred before we even made it to the trail when I pulled up before dawn at the Ponca low-water bridge and found a herd of elk milling in the woods around the gravel parking lot, with some even in the parking area itself. As I jumped out of the car to attend to urgent business in the outhouse, I made one little dog named Junie very unhappy by making her stay in the car so as not to startle the elk. As it turned out I was the one who did the startling, as the ones in the parking area retreated to the woods as I bounced up the walk, and later when I did let Junie out for a minute, she ignored the indifferent beasts, and they her.

Since we were more or less in time for sunrise, I motored on down to Cave Mountain to see how spring was looking from Hedges pour-off, and had the pleasure of photographing something that I have been looking for the last several years. Ever since I came across this poem by Robert Frost in 2000, I've thought that it cried out to be paired with a nature photo. The photo is no match for the brilliance of the poem, but if you were to ask me, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean, does she go, eh, does she go, is she a goer?, I would have to admit that, yes, she does, on occasion, go. The photo in question is at the top of this page, and the poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay", by Robert Frost, follows.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
but only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Later during our hike up our favorite creek, Junie took off after a couple of white-tailed deer that she spotted about half-way up the hillside, but they with a swish of the tail and a couple of kicks were gone, although she had to pretend to chase them a little bit, at least far enough to get out of sight, so that she could come trotting back in a minute or two and claim to have "missed them by that much!"
A few weeks ago this green spot was gold, but gold goes down to green, and it was time to shoot it again, and when I shoot a place more than once I usually try to give it a name. After a little thought I decided to call these falls the Little Niagara. Maybe I should have thought a little longer.
April 16 was another sunny spring day in the Ozarks, which meant that shortly it was time to sing the sad old song again, as the sunrise topped the hills to the east and made the light too contrasty for photography, as evidenced in this last shot of the day, below. But the gorge here and back behind these falls looked so promising that I decided to come back early the next morning to pick up where I left off.
Today's Back Light photo was taken in the fall of 2003 at the same location as the one of the photos above. Can you tell which one?