June 3, 2011

Arkansas Traveler

On Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of driving through Arkansas' Ozark Mountains on a two lane highway. It's a road we've taken only once or twice, cutting south from Springfield, MO down to the interstate west of Little Rock, and I didn't remember much about it. Its kind of nice when that happens, because its like driving a road for the first time.

I love early morning drives, when the sun is just making its appearance and the world is waking to a new day. There is something about this time of day that lifts my spirits and makes my heart smile. I turn the radio off and just soak up the morning and time with God in His beautiful world.

Arkansas is one of those states that kind of falls to the wayside in our minds. Its neighbors, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee...they are all famous for something and bring certain images to our minds when we hear their names. But what is Arkansas known for? What do you think of when you hear its name? These were some of the things I was pondering while I drove south towards our destination.

Well I was bothered that my mind came up with nothing significant about Arkansas other than that the state provided a president I was not very fond of. And I figured I needed to have something more positive in my mind about the state since it was so lovely. So I had to look some things up to see what I could find out about Arkansas.

Here are some things I learned:
  • About 50% of the rice grown in the United States is grown in eastern Arkansas
  • Wal-Mart was established and is headquartered in Arkansas (I knew this but had forgotten)
  • Arkansas leads the nation in production of bauxite (providing over 80% of this ore) which is used in the production of aluminum
  • the state leads in production of bromine, accounting for about half of the WORLD's output
  • Arkansas is home to the only diamond mine open to the public in the world
  • Hot Springs, AR is home to natural hot springs that have attracted people for over 200 years for healing and relaxation. Drawing rich and poor alike, the area is nick named "The American Spa," and is now a national park
I think I should start looking up things about the states I travel in. Even states like Arkansas that aren't exactly famous in our minds have lots to share with us, if we just pay attention.

This morning we are in California almost to our delivery sight. We brought another load of that smelly Texas feather meal out here for the organic fertilizer place. Its been so unpleasant to smell it every time we step out of the truck, especially after several weeks of hauling onions and grain. The onions really weren't that strong in odor and even so, I would tolerate that a lot better than this feather meal. But it pays, so we haul.

I've been completing my morning routine, while Malcolm drives. Feed the dogs, catch up on my farm in Farmville (there, I made it publicly official...I'm an addict), check for new blog posts to read...and this morning I discovered that Mom had posted some much anticipated news.

A few weeks ago, Mom began a series of blog posts that were inspired by a question another blogger asked her on another post. Mom had been sharing some of her gardening and mentioned her Lemon Balm and someone asked her about the uses of Lemon Balm. Mom got curious and started researching. What she's learned and shared has been really interesting. I've been inspired and I also want the book she featured in her first post because I'm really interested in herbs. But the most exciting part for me was the home made bug repellent recipe she shared in her first Lemon Balm post.

Mom and I are both bug magnets, to the point that its hard to enjoy being outside sometimes. Not that we let that stop us, but we're usually covered in welts and scabs from being bitten. And I HATE bug spray, the smell, the greasy feeling, and the coating myself in chemicals. Ick! So I usually suffer the bites instead of spraying myself down. But now! After two weeks of "steeping," Mom was able to put her Lemon Balm bug spray to the test...and it WORKED! For details on the results, you can read her third Lemon Balm post. This is a significant discovery for us both! I am really excited about the potential of having an herbal, home grown, home made bug spray...that works! Now I just have to find out if Lemon Balm can grow in Montana. But if it does, and if it's as hardy as it is in Tennessee, then I'll be set! Too bad I didn't have some in the ground already, because with all our rain this year, the mosquitoes are going to be horrible! I might have to have her ship me some of her bug spray until I can get my own batch going.


Leigh said...

I used to live in the Arkansas Ozarks (a long, long time ago) so I really loved these photos. Very interesting about the lemon balm bug spray. It's funny, but I've recently been researching fly deterrents (for the goats) and came across lemon balm as an ingredient. That was the first time I considered that it could be grown for more than just flavoring tea! I'm on my way over to your Mom's blog right now.

Michaele said...

Oh man! Arkansas is so beautiful! All that lush green is just like the Garden of Eden to me. I would love to go/live there.

Valerie said...

Loved the pics of Arkansas. The only time I went there it was by accident. Were you with me and Jenni on that trip? We were headed to Memphis to do a little sight-seeing and accidentally crossed the "Big Muddy" into Arkansas. I did not like what I saw, plus "that president" was in office so . . . I always knew there were pretty parts of Arkansas. I need to go to the Ozarks.

Shirley said...

Here's what I think of when someone mentions Arkansas

A great bluegrass tune, Arkansas Traveller

Shirley said...

Checked out the lemon balm posts, and am going to try the recipe, hopefully it will work on horses too.

Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch said...

I love the song Arkansas Traveler. I think your mom should bottle and sell her bug spray!