Petite Jean (French) Falls

Petite Jean Falls, Ozarks, Arkansas /

Many, many, years ago my family (of origin) met at a place in the Ozarks.  We came from different states for a family reunion, several times.  As I remember, with hopes that it is correct, the cabins we rented were in the “Petite (the emphasis was on the first syllable, with a short “e”) Jean State Park”. These pictures are of the falls, known as “Petite Jean Falls”; 92 feet from the top to the water.  When I first hiked into the area of the falls, I saw what looked like a cathedral carved out of rock.  My voice carried across the water, doing a ricochet off the rock because of the acoustics … far beyond my comprehension.  At the top of the rock, overlooking the falls are tall pines; and my imagination produced the idea that the trees were all guarding the falls, keeping a vigil against anyone who might get out of line.  Now, for the legend.

What has been passed down through generations is that Petit Jean, a young French girl, stowed herself away on a French ship so she could follow her true love to America. Disguised as a cabin boy, she followed her love – the nobleman Chavet – on his explorations up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers.  So clever was her disguise that her true identity remained unknown to either the fiance, Chavet, or the other men on the expedition.

The Legend of Petit Jean, Petit Jean State Park

The company of explorers came to Petit Jean mountain by way of the Arkansas River.  Tragically, the girl … Petite Jean … contracted a serious fever.  It was at this point, as the “cabin boy” was being treated, that Petit Jean’s true identity became known.   Chavet and his men were not able to save young Petite Jean, and her final request was that she be carried back to the top of the mountain. Many believe that the grave of Petit Jean is near the top the mountain: a small mound of earth and stone, in a cove of the rocks, now surrounded by an iron fence.  Legend holds that her spirit still lingers atop the mountain and at the falls.

Halloween Dawn Over Petit Jean's Grave
Arkansas River from Petit Jean’s grave./

“According to local folklore, the young woman’s ghost can be seen moving silently at night on the top of Petit Jean Mountain. Strange lights have been reported in the area of her grave.”

This story represents so much to me.  For one thing, it is linked to my family.  Another, Petite Jeans is absolutely full of metaphor, mystery, and love.  Every time I walked into the big rock cathedral of Petite Jean Falls, I always felt safe there.  The place was sacred.  I know that my imagination is enormous, but I have to tell you … I am intrigued by this young French girl, who loved Chavet so much.  Maybe I wish that she was actually there, so I could visit with her.  I would hear her story, and I would weep with her.

Like a Blurrrr …

Karington, pretending to sleep

A month ago, the oldest dog left the planet.  Karington was very protective against any wild animal that came around.  At night she sat in her space watching over anyone who was in the room; a mystic, looking right through you, pretending to sleep, continuously aware.

                I met my wife and daughter at the clinic, the unmentionable process of giving Karington her relief from suffering, her freedom to go on.  I was not ready for their (wife and daughter) intense emotions – – –  cathartic grief.  I’ve seen such tears from my wife only when her father died in 2001; my daughter’s weeping, unprecedented.  My own process was to disconnect from such emotions, to wrap it all up as ” … I don’t want to see Karington suffer any more; let her chase squirrel and elk up in heaven; it is time for us to let her go.”  Our Bernese (Mountain Dog) knew that her older friend was not coming back, but sang the blues here & there, moved a little slower, as if trying to swim in a pond of molasses.    


The kids were getting on with their days, my wife did the same, but there was something left over from the proverbial storm; the air did not return to its earlier place, the familiar texture.  Just as I thought we were shifting gears, getting closer to life as we know it, my visionary-wife gave me the scoop:

  • “Okay, T, I’ve been doing some research.”
    “Uh-oh … Let me sit down.”

    “We can get a Great Pyrenees pup down in Texas, near Frisco.”  (Pause … I maintain a poker face)        “If we leave on Saturday after you get off work, we could get down to Louisiana to see your parents on Sunday, spend the day there with them, and then go to Texas and get the pup.  We could get you back in time for you to work on Tuesday night. What do you think?”

Have you ever been hit with an idea, invitation to adventure, challenge, and your first response is “I’m not ready for this …”?  And then, somewhere in the process (for lack of better word) it is revealed that … yes … you were ready.  If it is up to us, we might say “Oh, no.  No, no, no.  I’m not ready for this to happen at this juncture.”  And, then again, maybe we are ready … and we just don’t know it.  We loaded up on Saturday morning (the 21st), grabbed Starbucks on the way out, hammered our way East, turned right somewhere in Kansas.  At some point I looked out the window and saw a stunning mix of colors in the western sky; residue of the sunset.

Colors in Kansas
Sunset Residue in Kansas

Journey’s end at 3:30am; part dead of night, part pre-dawn morning.  ‘Saw my mom & dad Sunday around Noon.  Dad’s 92.  My dad has an amazing mind, good heart, though sometimes disoriented.  It was really good to hang out there on Sunday.  We left Monday morning, after stopping to see Mom & Dad on the way out.  It was odd, Dad was unusually agitated that morning.  He was lying down, somewhat anxious, talking about his shoulder.  I was cautious, but compelled to put my hands on each of his shoulders, applying slight pressure, and I told him to rest, and I breathed out slowly, inhaled, and continued that process.  Dad closed his eyes, calmed down, and slept.  The whole thing was fairly strange, but not in an unpleasant sense.  We knew it was time to head out, so I hugged Mom, spoke a few blessings over her. In route to Texas, I didn’t fight my reflective silence; going to a place near Frisco, to pick up a dog.  

Ok, I'm ready to get out of  Texas.
Ok, I’m ready to get out of Texas.
What's next?
What are we going to do now?

We connected with the rancher (who breeds the Pyrenees) in Scranton, TX: weathered cowboy hat; jeans tucked into Tony Lama cowboy boots with a dirt glaze; few teeth missing; healthy girth; and a joyful countenance accentuated with a reddish glow in his face, eyes with a slight squint and a child’s smile.

We need to talk
We need to talk, right now.

She was 14 weeks old, a Great Pyrenees pup; the biggest pup I have ever had to pick up.  We made it back, to the Other Side of the Trees, with one more dog than when we started.  It was all a blur.  And why wouldn’t it be, eh?  Life is that way, even when I don’t think I am ready.

On a mission
Not now! I’m busy!





Interview (Satire) With A Wilder Man

Okay, Mr … “Wilder Man?” … Is that right?  You are Mr. Wilder Man?

Thor, with hammer /

Yes, although the “Mr.” is not used very often.  Call me whatever is most comfortable for you.  Some call me “Thor”, because is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce.  And, as you can see, I look like Thor.  By the way, do you mind if I put my hammer on the table?  

I see … (clears throat) So, this interview panel will call you … “Thor”.  Let’s get started, Mr. Thor.

Mr. Thor, the position you are applying for is Regional Manger Front Range Territory.  Some of your responsibilities will be to develop the relationships we already have with our buyers, business owners, quality control people, key networkers, etc.   Tell us something about yourself that suggests your experience, your success in this area.

I’ve been wired for this type of thing for as long as I can remember.  (I stand up) This is my purpose for living! (I have raised my voice and I have fire in my eyes) This is what I was created for! As William Wallace once said “You can take our lives!  But you CAN’T … TAKE … OUR … FREEDOM!!

(Interview panel spokesperson clears throat) Ummm, Mr. Thor, please sit back down, and try to keep your voice just a little lower.  Thank you.  Now let’s move on the next question.  Mr. Thor, where do you see yourself in five years?

Great question.  In five years, I want to have moved beyond the position I am being hired for, into a place in the company where I am making more money than anyone else; and I can work whenever I want to,  and I can do whatever I want to.  I want to be your boss.

Hmmmmm.  Well, that certainly is ambitious.  Could you tell us something about why you would say that, Mr. Thor?

Simple.  It is what I am good at.  We thrive on what we are good at.

Well, Mr. Thor, we do need to break for lunch.  When we come back, the panel will let you know if we need to continue the interview.  We may have everything we need.  Any other comments before we take a break, Mr. Thor?

Yes, there is one thing.  AfterI am hired, I would like for you to consider hiring my little brother, as I need to keep an eye on him.  He is a good kid, really (I am stretching the truth, here) … He gets frustrated, but I can usually calm him down.  You might want to jot his hame …. Loki.

An Eccentric and Authentic Man

Lives alone.  Fourth floor, an old … historical … apartment building located in the transition between “downtown” and the “inner city”.  Fewer businesses thrive there, fewer lights shine through the night, more homeless consider this “their turf” .  Both, building and apartment, have maintained oldish, musty, themes and appearance from earlier decades.  During winter, he is content keeping the steam heat low, with the room temperature, around 50.  Warmth comes from his layered and weathered being: two shirts, polar fleece, rag wool socks.  Warmth comes from many books on many shelves … to fortify the walls of his apartment-castle.  Warmth comes from music, flowing indirectly from many years before: Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie; pieces composed by guys like Rachmaninoff and Brahms and Beethoven; Piano Guys; Crosby Stills and Nash; Carol King, Bruce Cockburn; Lena Horne.  A dark green wing back chair, parked on an Oriental rug that stretches out twelve feet one way and nine feet another.  He reads books, here, in this chair; he sips tea; he thinks about his journey and his story, at times making sense of things.  He forces himself out of his safe place, when he can: volunteering at the library to read stories for kiddos; working at the food bank; and walking to the park where he reads … if the weather holds out.

Tozer wrote a piece entitled  “A Sanctified Imagination”.  As a result of that read, I attempt to practice this “sanctified imagination”.  This particular imagery above visits often.  But this is the first time I have released it, on to the great white.  There are times when such a release happens without much of a notice.  Thanks for letting me get this out of my soul.