April 05, 2021

Last weekend Melissa and I decided it was time to take a break from the busy activity of the week and go for a drive.  I had been preparing for all the events associated with Holy Week, Easter, and Egg Hunts.  Melissa does not get time off as she works for a bank.  Now that she is feeling better, she has begun to put time back into succulent care.  That and cleaning up the front beds means we had been focused.  We needed a break and hopped into the convertible to go for a drive.  The first stop had to be Sonic for a much deserved(?) sundae.  While we do not do much desert, an occasional sundae does hit the spot.   Then we took off down Highway 10 with nowhere in particular in mind.  We were hoping for a surprise.

As we drove along, I saw a sign pointing to “Paris.”  Since I have always wanted to go to Paris and even took a try at learning French, I steered the car in that direction.  The weather was nice and a good day to drive with the top down.  As we neared Paris, we got a surprise as we came to the reservoir and the tailwater that passed under a bridge going into town.  We stopped and noted what a good location this might be for a future fly-fishing venture.  The stream was open, appeared walkable, and had several good holes in the two hundred yards leading back to the reservoir.  I always take my poles when I am in the Jeep but had not transferred them to the Benz or I would have tried a fly or two.  I reminded myself this day was about the surprise, not fishing.

As we turned back toward home we passed through Paris and about three miles out of town found the Cowie Wine Cellars.  I had just seen a segment about the “Capel of the Bells” on TV, and this was it.  The winery offers tours and tastings (just closed), as well as a tiny chapel.  Having lived near Napa Valley in California, it was a surprise to find a winery in Arkansas.  The associated museum is touted as the only wine museum in the United States dedicated to preserving the wine history of a complete state (Arkansas) and its 150 wineries (another surprise).  The most impressive part for me was the 26 large bells hung in four towers next to the chapel.  When I visited their web site, I found they have over 60 bells in total, and many are available for sell.  The great thing about going for a drive is the surprise you find on the way.

Thoughts:  One of our family traditions growing up was the “Happy Surprise.”  Although these had been planned by my dad, it was always sprung on us kids.  Although the destinations varied, it always began as we piled into the car for a drive.  We would often go to Clarence’s, or my grandfather’s farm.  It took me awhile to learn that Clarence was his first name, not grandpa.  Other times we would just drive the four blocks to the Dairy Queen.  This kept the element of surprise in the drive.  While a Happy Surprise is a good thing, getting a surprise by not paying attention is not.  Our country continues to ignore the plight of the lowest 20% economically.  In my state this is the nearly 20% living in poverty, and we are only ranked fourth.  Mississippi tops the list with a 24% poverty rate.  Nationally, over 10% of people live in poverty in what we claim to be the wealthiest country in the world.  It is time for change.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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