Today is one of those magical days that come about from time to time in the waning hours of November. The big winter sun hangs low in a crisp blue sky, warming the ageless rocks at my feet. The golden light of midday has taken on an ephemeral tenderness that highlights the sculpted edges of thousands of umber, scarlet and saffron-colored oak leaves whose active lives have come to the ultimate conclusion upon the bosom of the earth. In some sudden and mysterious way they are no longer leaves, but individual pieces of a naturally fantastic jigsaw puzzle just waiting to be pieced together.
For the last sixteen years, my husband and I have lived in the Ozarks of Missouri. During our early years together, we were lured to these unknown undulations by some unseen and unknowable force. Since then, an impossible number of our days have been spent immersed in the natural flow of this ancient landscape – so much so that, at times, we are truly lost to time itself.
The physical beauty of the Ozark landscape – her hills, rivers, springs, fens, seeps, springs, creeks, waterfalls, hollows, bluffs, losing streams, knobs, swamps, rocks, sinkholes, caves, mounds, and flood planes – is matched only by the diversity of life in all its forms. The Ozarks do not have the tallest mountains in the world or an endless ocean to draw its residents into reverie, but the deep and ageless beauty of the Ozarks burrow deeply into the soul.
Filled to the brim with colorful stories, wild walks, botanical musings, and a just a pinch of “hillbilly” humor A personal and inspiring tale of homesteading in the Ozark backwoods. Look inside!
Perhaps I romanticize, but even now, after all these years of studying, watching, and wandering her contours, the Ozarks still feel like a place lost in time. A place where folks sit on their porch of an evening and wave at passersby on the highway; where cozy cafe’s brim with good ol’ boys in coveralls shooting the breeze, spinning yarns, and pulling legs with just a hint of a twinkle in their eye.
And despite the general disdain for big cities and city-slickers, modern times have not left the Ozarks completely untouched. As I write, the area is continuously growing in population, scope, and attitude. Today, Ozarkians (a nod to the ‘official’ regional moniker) come in all bents and stripes; from the ultra-modern to the backwoods recluse.
And while many a newcomer has come here to get away from something, most come to get back to something – often, a simpler way of life and room to live it in. It is the amalgamation of old and new that make the Ozarks so surprising and wonderful to newcomers, but it is unquestionably the old that makes them feel at home.
© 2016 Jill Henderson Feel free to share with a link back to the original article.
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Filled to the brim with colorful stories, wild walks, botanical musings, and a just a pinch of “hillbilly” humor A personal and inspiring tale of homesteading in the Ozark backwoods by noted author, naturalist and plant organic gardener, Jill Henderson.
Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore. Jill is a contributing author for Acres USA and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.
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