Transitions

58        In Mid-February I attended a meeting in Nashville, Tennessee spending some of my last days with the agency. The meeting dealt with ecosystem classification as it relates to the hazards of wildfire. I really enjoyed working with environmental issues with the agency since finding ways to make the human’s impact on the environment more sustainable wasn't often neglected goal of my career. Helping the agency, and thus the country, deal with the environment is always made me feel like I was contributing something to my country and my planet. After the meeting, I jumped in my truck and drove home.

59        As I've said before, it wasn't like I was being environmentally sensitive. I was driving my truck rather than taking an airplane, but in the United States at that time a bus and train service was almost not an option. Despite its 4.5 million people Atlanta is only served by a train that runs once a day between Washington, D. C. and New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite their size, no passenger trains operated between Atlanta and Nashville. Bus service was available but so inconvenient I never considered it. I would have had to have left my truck at the bus station rather than my home. The nearest public transportation to my house was 15 miles away despite the fact millions of people lived around me. I have no idea where the bus station was located. I never used. And had I taken the bus to Nashville I feel certain that it would've been extremely difficult to find a bus from downtown Nashville to the meeting location.

60        Within a few days I finished my last Forest Service work day, turned in my official resignation, and climbed in my car for the ride home to Arkansas. My wife, Sheila, just heard me dictating this part of Windsong and said, “Gay!” No not gay, “Yeah.” I'm using voice recognition software to dictate this part of my book and it is, to say the least, imperfect. As you know, dear reader, Sheila had been living in Arkansas alone since May, except for brief period when she cared for her mother at home. She had accepted an old job working for Dr. Abraham, a general practitioner, and his medical clinic and had been living alone in his farmhouse which had been vacant in Flippin.

61        Flippin is an interesting Ozark mountain town, with the Flippin Church of God, the Flippin City Hall, and several other Flippin establishments. Flippin had its Flippin 15 minutes of fame when David Letterman, a late-night talkshow host, highlighted it on one of his programs. When I first started writing Windsong I never expected to need to describe many of the details I find myself describing now. The first one to jump out at me was a typewriter. In my childhood, typewriters were the closest thing we had to computer and late-night talkshow hosts were famous. Everybody knew Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and the other guy, what's his name? Jay Leno! But 200 years from now those people will probably be not as well-known as Shakespeare or Napoleon.

62        Marion County, which lies east of my current residence in Baxter County, Arkansas, it had its boom around 1905. The area had been settled by the Osage Indians prior to the arrival of Europeans who began to settle in the area in the early 1800s. I started to say "in large numbers" but decided not to since the numbers were never large. North-central Arkansas was a backwater during the U. S. Civil War in the early 1860s. Most accounts from that time described a period of lawlessness with bands of renegades and outlaws taking food and anything else they wanted from early settlers at a period when laws were not being enforced. The boom of the early 1900s came from zinc mining along the Buffalo River and in what we called Coleman Mountain immediately southeast of Yellville, the county seat. At one point, Yellville had more than 10,000 residents briefly. It'd previously been called Shawneetown so obviously the Osage Indians had shared the area with the Shawnee tribe. Flippin and Yellville competed, mostly in basketball games at their respective high schools. Neither town had really thrived.

63        Through most of the 20th century the populations of both towns hovered around 1,000. Flippin, not being the county seat, managed to compete for two reasons, its vicinity to the larger town of Mountain Home and more importantly the large Ranger Boat factory, founded in 1968 and introducer of the modern bass boat and the world's largest recreational boat manufacturer as of 2013. Yellville had tried to protect its businesses by not allowing Walmart to introduce a store in its vicinity. I don't know exactly how that was done but I do know that Walmart ultimately chose Flippin over Yellville because of favorable community support, leaving Yellville to idle along although one would not say Flippin is a booming metropolis.

64        Tomorrow's Blog will describe the house were we lived until the summer of 2008.