Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ozark Kountry Ramblings

Just got back from the Lake of the Ozarks.

We've visited there every few years since moving to Missouri in the 70s. I'm sad to say it's the end of an era. The town of Osage Beach was, until recently, a midwestern incarnation of an East Coast boardwalk. (Imagine a salt water taffy store, Skeeball lanes, an old-time photo studio, throw in some corn cob pipes, a hillbilly variety show, and some outhouse salt-and-pepper shakers. That's how "The Lake" used to be in the good old days.)

The Ozark Opry's dilapidated marquee now reads, "Goodbye. Thanks for 53 great years." It seems inevitable the building will be razed to make room for more "premium" outlet mall stores. (An aside: Who thinks anyone gets a good deal at an outlet store? I shopped for sandals and bath towels and saw no bargains anywhere.)

Here's another sign of the Ozarkian times:

Our late April visit qualified as off-season, so we didn't deal with jet skis or the obscenely loud and huge race boats in which people now terrorize the waves.

One evening, after consuming our weight in boardwalk fudge and then getting photographed in whore-with-a-heart-of-gold/outlaw get-ups, we decided to hit the other side of town. We discovered a truly amazing bit or paradise: a rookery where the great blue heron dwell.

These incredible birds (wingspans can reach 40 inches or more) like to hang out at the north end of Bagnell Dam, a structure built by the Army Corps of Engineers during WPA to create the Lake of the Ozarks.

Where does a 4-foot heron roost?

Anywhere she wants.

1 comment:

Jas P. said...

I haven't been to the Lake of the Ozarks in years. I remember going to Branson as a kid with a church camp group. This would have been the summer of 1968. I went in one of those bouncy moonwalk things, did a flip, and hurt my back so bad, I lost the feeling in my legs for a moment and thought I'd snapped my spine. They carried me onto the bus and I had to lie down in the aisle. When we got back, the camp nurse gave me the first backrub I ever remember getting. But she soon had a bigger problem to deal with...

One of the girls in our group, Sherry, had her soda pop dosed with LSD by some guy in town. By the evening campfire, she was high as a kite, completely freaked out. (The "minister" running the camp used this episode and others as evidence that Satan was among us.) By morning Sherry was coming down, exhausted but blissful. She said the camp nurse had gotten her to calm down by just listening to the crickets and cicadas and the sounds of the wind in the trees, and that for awhile, it all came together like a symphony and she could see it like sheet music in her mind. That's a pretty savvy camp nurse, if you ask me.

The last time I saw a great blue heron was by the pond at Kearney. I did a little zen drawing of it that turned out surprisingly cool, then wrote a poem that turned out not so good.

When life serves you herons, make heron art. I dig the photo!