September 8, 2005

John Cook Completes Motorcycle Tour de Capitals

It took the Memphis motorcycle enthusiast approximately two years to travel by bike to 49 of the United States state capitals, lacking only a motorcycle boat to get to Hawaii.

Lance Armstrong has made the Tour de France famous. A bike tour of a different variety has gained a Memphis man some notoriety of his own.

Its not like John Cook needs his love of motorcycles to make him known in this community. John and his wife Maxine have owned and operated Cooks Mens Store, a well-known western apparel store for 40 years.

But those in the community that didnt encounter John in the store or via his various other community service projects such as Rotary, surely saw the man riding his motorcycle in the parades.

He wasnt showing off. John simply found the love of riding and is more than willing to take advantage of just about any excuse to fire up his ride and head down the road.

Cook blames his love of riding on the fact that he started so late in life. John was 40 years old before he owned his first ride.

I just finally got exposed to the sport then, he said. I had a pretty large group of friends who all had motorcycles at this time and they all kept coming by and trying to get me revved up.

So John finally took the plunge. But it was a relatively small leap, as he shelled out $50 bucks to buy a small size 50 motorcycle.

He rode that for a couple of weeks and was hooked. The industry reeled in their newest catch, as Cook began upgrading, moving up to a 100 c.c. engine, then on to a 125, a 175, a 350, a 550, a 1000, a 1100 and then his 1200 10th Anniversary American Gold Wing.

Its just like any other hobby, fishing, hunting, golfing Cook said. We all have our interests, and for me its definitely riding a motorcycle.

In 1974 he started touring on his 550 Honda, traveling with his brother Charles to Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. They even traveled to the little known town of Sturgis, South Dakota where Cook joined with some 5,000 other motorcycle enthusiasts. Last year, the 63rd annual Sturgis rally drew nearly half a million bikers.

John enjoyed the sport so much he decided to share the fun with Maxine. Together the couple rode across the United States, Canada and even in Mexico.

The riding around all over our great country, thats simply the best, John said. We have seen some many different places thanks to riding, yet we are so thankful that we still live in the best part. Still, I love to ride.

Cook doesnt use the term love, loosely when he refers to riding his motorcycle. How else could one explain a man celebrating his 65th birthday by departing on a two-year quest to ride his bike to all of the state capitals in the United States?

The marathon began innocently enough back in 1998. On May 17, John departed from Memphis heading west. His first stop was Topeka, KS. He went on to Oklahoma City. Stop two on the 49 capital tour was made more memorable by his viewing of the bombed-out Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

While the site of the terrorist bombing dampened Cooks spirits some, he was reinvigorated by what he called the beautiful scenery on the road to Santa Fe, NM. Phoenix, AZ, was the next stop before John departed on one of the longest rides of his adventure, the 1,020 miles to Austin, TX.

That ride was hard on me, Cook said. It was kind of funny because it bugged me, until I finally told myself that it was a thousand miles, and I really didnt have to do it all in one day.

Between Texas and Louisianna, John experienced his first setback. He miscalculated on his fuel, and actually ran out of gasoline. Fortunately he was rescued by a passerby.

A nice young man stopped and brought me some gas, Cook said. We got to talking, and the fellow related what his father had told him, that anytime you go someplace new, you always learn something. Thats stuck with me on my trips.

Refueled, Cook pressed on to Baton Rouge and then turned north for the return trip, stopping in Little Rock, AR, before hitting Jefferson City, MO.

It was in his own state capital that Cook came across the book that became his guide on the quest. He was visiting with the folks in the souvenir shop, when one pointed out a book, The Capitals of the United States. John purchased a copy, which highlighted each states capital building. Now the book includes Johns own additions, as it has become somewhat of a scrapbook with photos taken by Cook at each of his stops.

On May 25, Johns 1500 Honda crossed the city limits of Memphis. In eight and a half days he had ridden 4,302 miles and visited nine state capitals on stage one of his tour.

After his visit to the southwest, John next mapped out the second leg of his journey, this time heading northeast.

On June 21, Cook departed from Memphis heading east. Springfield, IL was the first stop. Then it was on to Indianapolis, IN, followed by Columbus, OH. Cook made a pit stop in Brookville, PA, where he stayed at a friends home. He resumed the quest as he made it to Harrisburg before journeying into our nations capital, Washington, D.C.

That was definitely a challenge because of the road designs, Cook said. Its shaped like a wagon wheel with all kinds of one-way streets. But still I got to see all the national monuments and all of the history.

The history lesson continued as John made his way to Annapolis, MD, the site of the oldest state capital in the U.S., Dover, DE and Trenton, NJ, were two more stops as Cook said he found himself amazed that he was wandering among buildings with such history, like in Maryland, where George Washington had actually resigned his post as Commander and Chief of the Continental army back in 1783. He marveled at the four towers of marble and granite that comprised the Hartford, CT, capital building.

After hitting Providence, RI, and Boston, MA, John finally began to ride out of the urban sprawl of the east coast. He still couldnt avoid the crowds though, as his misfortunate timing placed him in Concord, New Hampshire at the same time as a big NASCAR race, making it impossible to find a hotel room.

John continued north and hit Augusta, ME, and then stopped at Montpelier Vermont.

This was the only one of the 49 state capitals that I didnt either walk around or ride around, Cook said. I couldnt, because the building is actually built into the side of a mountain.

From there the journey turned to Albany, NY, before John headed to Buffalo, NY, and got to see Niagara Falls. He continued through Canada on a straight line for Lansing, MI. He then turned back south and traveled through Chicago on the return to Memphis where he arrived July 3.

The East Coast was amazing with its history, its huge ports and giant ships, Cook said. The ocean and the mountains made it a very nice trip that I would have enjoyed much more without my mishap in Pennsylvania.

An accident in the Keystone state left Cook with broken ribs, making the last 3,000 miles of the ride a little uncomfortable.

Still he completed the 12-day trek, covering 3,967 miles and 15 more state capitals.

Leg three of the five-stage trip started August 2 when Cook again departed Memphis, this time heading north to Des Moines, IA. He learned a little about politics in the gold-domed capital building where an engraved sign reads Nothing is politically correct that is morally wrong.

The northern tour went on to Madison, WI, and St. Paul, MN. Bismark, ND, presented an enjoyable ride across the northern plains. Cook admired the capital building as he approached the city, noting it is the tallest of all state capitals, standing 19 stories tall.

Cook was able to admire the length of the Missouri River as he paralleled the massive body of water on his way to Pierre, SD. Of course, it was August, so John made a detour to Sturgis to check out the biker rally before heading on to Lincoln, NE.

Cook covered 2,402 miles on the five-day excursion and will tell you that the midwest ride is definitely his favorite.

Stage four was the most ambitious thus far. Cook took off April 19, 1999 and headed southeast for what would be more than 4,000 miles on his motorcycle.

Nashville, TN, was stop #1 followed by Atlanta, GA, and Montgomery, AL.

Cook got to view two state capitals in Tallahassee, as Florida not only has a new modern building but also maintains the original capital building, restored to its original condition.

A strong desire to see Key West sent Cook on a detour across Alligator Alley and down the states west coast to his farthest southern stop. He returned up the east coast and on to Savannah, GA and then Columbia, SC. Here Cook saw the brass markers that represented canon shells that had hit the building during the Civil War.

Raleigh, NC, and Richmond, VA, had Cook two more stops closer to his goal.

But the cyclist found his trip soured by a call from home. He received word that his mother had passed away. That cut short his visit with friends in Lynchburg, VA, as he jumped on his bike that evening and rode until he had to stop for sleep. He made it back through Charleston, WV and Frankfurt, KY, before getting back home May 26. He covered 4,158 miles in eight days.

But that proved to be nothing compared to the final leg of the quest. A week later, John and a friend, Jerry Speer, departed Memphis to hit the remaining spots in the northwest.

Cook questioned if he was not getting a little soft as the first day on the road the duo hit rain. It was not the only roadblock Mother Nature would provide.

They made it to Cheyenne, WY, but hit a huge windstorm that nearly blew them off course on the way to Boise, ID. It turned cold as they crossed the narrow mountain roads en route to Helena, MT.

They kept going north, crossing into Canada on the way to Alaska. They headed for Calgary, riding along the Columbia Ice Field.

They took a break at Pink Mountain and awoke from a nights sleep at a motel to 18 inches of snow. They were stalled for nearly three days by more than 20 inches of snow.

They made up for the layover with a hard day of riding.

When we pulled into the motel, I was cleaning bugs off my windshield and kept wondering why I was so tired, Then I looked at my watch and saw it was 10:30 p.m., but the sun was still up. Thats the first time Ive ever went to bed with the sun still up.

The two bikers finally made it to Juneau, AK, and then turned around and headed back to the good old USA.

It was kind of interesting as I was sitting there in Alaska to stop and think, just a month or so before that I had been all the way across the nation down in the Florida Keys, Cook said.

The next stop was Olympia, WA, before hitting Salem, OR, and Sacramento, CA. Carson City, NV, and Salt Lake City, UT, were stops 47 and 48 before the final destination of Denver, CO. was reached.

Twenty days later the two men returned home after covering more than 7,700 miles on their motorcycles.

I always get asked, which one is the prettiest, Cook said. Well, thats sort of like judging a queen contest, I mean you just cant pick one over another as they are all so amazing.

Regardless of all of his stops on the 59-day, 23,000 miles adventure, Cook never had any doubt what his favorite sight was.

I saw so many beautiful things on my trips, but none compares to getting that first look at home when you finally get back, he said.

With his obvious love for home, one might wonder why Cook undertook the massive trip.

It was a challenge- and I won, Cook said. As a kid, I always wished my horse could have wings so that I could ride every place. On the highway, I realized God had given me my Gold Wing very humbling.

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Cattle Show

 

Taylar Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Grand Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show with her cow and calf entry. She is pictured with her sister Tasha and SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Taylar Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Grand Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show with her cow and calf entry. She is pictured with her sister Tasha and SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Kassie Bulen took home the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Rate of Gain trophies from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She is pictured with her grandfather George Bulen.

Kassie Bulen took home the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Rate of Gain trophies from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She is pictured with her grandfather George Bulen.

 

Hannah Dunn exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Animal of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She also showed the Grand Champion Bull.

Hannah Dunn exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Animal of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show. She also showed the Grand Champion Bull.

 

The Class 1 Showmanship winner from the 2016 SC Fair Cattle Show was Jessica Huff.

The Class 1 Showmanship winner from the 2016 SC Fair Cattle Show was Jessica Huff.

 

The Grand Champion Market Animal of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Jared Dunn.

The Grand Champion Market Animal of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Jared Dunn.

 

Jillian Crane took home the Class II Showmanship Award from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

Jillian Crane took home the Class II Showmanship Award from the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

 

Tasha Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Reserve Champion Bull of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show.

Tasha Eggleston-Wood exhibited the Reserve Champion Bull of the 2016 SC Fair Junior Cattle Show.

 

The Dairy Showmanship Award went to Corbin Kirchner.

The Dairy Showmanship Award went to Corbin Kirchner.

 

Megan Kirchner showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Dairy Females and the Grand Champion Dairy Steer during the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

Megan Kirchner showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Dairy Females and the Grand Champion Dairy Steer during the 2016 Junior Cattle Show.

 

The Reserve Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Will Montgomery.

The Reserve Champion Female of the 2016 Junior Cattle Show was exhibited by Will Montgomery.

 

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show

Luke Triplett (assisted by Abby Blessing) showed the Grand Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Luke Triplett (assisted by Abby Blessing) showed the Grand Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

Avery and Gabe Shultz showed the Reserve Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Avery and Gabe Shultz showed the Reserve Champion Pair of Market Lambs at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

The Grand Champion Market Lamb of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Taylar Eggleston-Wood.

The Grand Champion Market Lamb of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Taylar Eggleston-Wood.

 

The Grand Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Sadie Davis.

The Grand Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Sadie Davis.

 

Morgan Blessing earned the 2016 Junior Showmanship award for the Junior Sheep Show.

Morgan Blessing earned the 2016 Junior Showmanship award for the Junior Sheep Show.

 

Brianna Kraus showed the Reserve Champion Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair.

Brianna Kraus showed the Reserve Champion Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair.

 

Katie Miller exhibited the Champion Katahdin at the 2016 Sheep Show.

Katie Miller exhibited the Champion Katahdin at the 2016 Sheep Show.

 

Clara Davis showed the Grand Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. She also received the Grand Champion Rate of Gain award for the show.

Clara Davis showed the Grand Ram at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. She also received the Grand Champion Rate of Gain award for the show.

 

Baleigh Phillips exhibited the Grand Champion Rate of Gain exhibit (two exhibitors tied for the top rate of gain) at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

Baleigh Phillips exhibited the Grand Champion Rate of Gain exhibit (two exhibitors tied for the top rate of gain) at the 2016 Junior Sheep Show.

 

The Reserve Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Abby Blessing.

The Reserve Champion Ewe of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show was exhibited by Abby Blessing.

 

Kaylyn Anders was named the Round Robin showmanship champion of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show. She also claimed the Senior Showmanship honor and exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Lamb. Kaylyn is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Kaylyn Anders was named the Round Robin showmanship champion of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Sheep Show. She also claimed the Senior Showmanship honor and exhibited the Reserve Champion Market Lamb. Kaylyn is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

2016 Scotland County Junior Goat Show

The Charles B. Green Memorial Award ($150 toward the purchase of a goat) at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Hailee Darcy. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

The Charles B. Green Memorial Award ($150 toward the purchase of a goat) at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Hailee Darcy. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Anna Triplett was crowned the Round Robin showmanship champion at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

Anna Triplett was crowned the Round Robin showmanship champion at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. She is pictured with 2016 SC Fair Queen Calesse Bair.

 

Beau Triplett earned the Junior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. He also exhibited the Grand Champion Doe.

Beau Triplett earned the Junior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show. He also exhibited the Grand Champion Doe.

 

The Reserve Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Dane Blessing.

The Reserve Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Dane Blessing.

 

Hugh Baker showed the Grand Champion Buck at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. He also exhibited the Reserve Champion Wether and the Reserve Champion Doe.

Hugh Baker showed the Grand Champion Buck at the 2016 Scotland County Fair. He also exhibited the Reserve Champion Wether and the Reserve Champion Doe.

 

Jenna Blessing exhibited the Grand Champion Market Wether of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show.

Jenna Blessing exhibited the Grand Champion Market Wether of the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show.

 

The Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Kara Mallett. She also showed the Reserve Champion Buck.

The Champion Rate of Gain Trophy for the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Goat Show went to Kara Mallett. She also showed the Reserve Champion Buck.

 

Nova Cline earned the Senior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show.

Nova Cline earned the Senior Showmanship award at the 2016 Junior Goat Show.

2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show

Carlee Smith and Bullet won the Beginner Novice 13 & Under division.

Carlee Smith and Bullet won the Beginner Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Tasha Eggleston-Wood earned the Overall Showmanship and Showmanship 14 & Over trophies as well as the Agility 14 & Over win at the 2016 Junior Dog Show. Clara Davis and Skippy won the pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

Tasha Eggleston-Wood earned the Overall Showmanship and Showmanship 14 & Over trophies as well as the Agility 14 & Over win at the 2016 Junior Dog Show. Clara Davis and Skippy won the pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Clara Davis and Skippy won the Pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

Clara Davis and Skippy won the Pre-Novice 13 & Under division.

 

Anna Triplett and Mazy took top honors in the Canine Agility 13 & Under class at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show. The duo also earned the Showmanship 13 & Under trophy.

Anna Triplett and Mazy took top honors in the Canine Agility 13 & Under class at the 2016 Scotland County Fair Junior Dog Show. The duo also earned the Showmanship 13 & Under trophy.

 

Erica Yarbrough and Buster took first place in the Pre-Novice 14 & Over class.

Erica Yarbrough and Buster took first place in the Pre-Novice 14 & Over class.

 

Taylar Eggleston-Wood and Dan won the Novice II 14 & Over category with a score of 185 out of 200.

Taylar Eggleston-Wood and Dan won the Novice II 14 & Over category with a score of 185 out of 200.

Sealing Operations Will Temporarily Close Route B

HANNIBAL – Weather permitting, August 1, MoDOT crews will temporarily close Scotland County Route B between the Iowa state line and U.S. 136 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for sealing operations.

Please use alternate routes during this time.

Again, this work is weather dependent and could be delayed or rescheduled. For more information contact MoDOT’s Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636). All roadwork is posted on the traveler information map. You can also visit us online at www.modot.org/northeast.

August 2nd Election to Decide School Tax Levy, Two County Races

vote

The August 2nd primary election will decide a pair of Republican races for local offices and also will feature the return of a tax levy issue for the Scotland County R-I School District.

Local voters who take the Republican ballot in the open primary election, will decide the party’s nomination for County Assessor. Incumbent Jim Ward faces a challenge from Lisa Grubb for the party’s nomination for the position.

Residents in the western district of Scotland County will also have the chance to decide the Republican nominee for Western District Commissioner. Incumbent David Wiggins is being challenged by George Owings.

While the Democratic and Republican ballots feature a number of state races for U.S. Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Secretary of State, the lone other local issue to be decide is Proposition 1. The school district tax-levy question will appear on all ballots. Individuals not wishing to cast a Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Constitutional Party may select a non-partisan ballot, which will only have the Proposition 1 question.

Proposition 1, if approved, would allow the Scotland County R-I School District to borrow $3.3 million to build an early childhood development center and make other upgrades at the high school and elementary school. The process would be funded by a $0.33 debt service levy increase.

Voters previously had turned down a $4 million tax levy question from the school district in April by a 628 to 505 margin and a $5 million tax levy proposal was shot down in November 2014.

This spring the Scotland County R-1 School Board of Education used results from more than 200 public survey responses to help fashion the current levy proposal. The board scaled back some of the original proposals after more than 20% of the survey respondents indicated they did not support particular points in the initial bond issue, particularly spending on extracurriculars such as a new all-weather track and new lights for the baseball, softball and football fields.

Many of those items were removed from the current tax levy proposal, helping to lower the total cost to $3.3 million and decrease the tax levy hike from $0.40 to the current proposed levy rate increase of $0.33.

Scotland County Senior Nutrition Center

MENU

Thursday, July 28 – Meatloaf, Mixed Vegetables, Cauliflower/Cheese Sauce, Bread, Peach Crisp

Friday, July 29 – Catfish Nuggets, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Strawberry Shortcake

Monday, August 1 – Chicken Strips, Scalloped Cabbage, Buttered Corn, Bread, Apple Crisp

Tuesday, August 2 – Tenderloin/Bun, Onion Slice, Pasta Veggie Salad, Green Beans, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Wednesday, Aug. 3 – Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes/Gravy, Spinach, Wheat Roll, Jell-O Fruit

Thursday, August 4 – Taco Salad, Lettuce, Beans/Chips, Tomatoes, Peas, Applesauce, Cookie

ACTIVITIES

Thursday, July 28 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 4 – Card Party at 5:00 p.m.

Heat Wave, Visitors, and a Sad Farewell

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Althea hugging a duck. Photo by Ben.

Howdy. Ben here, bringing y’all news from the storm-swept prairies, soggy draws, and humid homes of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. It certainly has been an eventful week here, though to be honest I haven’t had an uneventful one yet in my four years of time on farm. I’ll just stick with the formula y’all have come to expect and give you the weather report first.

We’ve spent the past week enduring a nasty heat wave here, with temps pushing towards a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, intense humidity, and still, stale, boggy air. The top eight inches or so of our swimming pond are unsettlingly warm, like broth. The fish might not bite under such conditions, but the crawdads are really nipping my toes these days during my daily cool downs at the old swimmin’ hole.

The sole motivation for completing my afternoon chores is the mere thought of our animals running low on fresh water. Come three in the afternoon, the barnyard is reminiscent of a ghost town, ducks and chickens peering from beneath the shade of cedars and sheds, the pigs nearly completely submerged in their wallows.

Other telltale signs that this is the height of summer include the whine and drone of cicadas, the emergence of partridge peas out in the field, and a sudden abundance of blackberries, perhaps the most I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here. In our kitchen co-op we’ve had enough for pie, wine, and consistent, daily snacking. Still, there’s more on the way. The paths are speckled with blackberry scat, perhaps belonging to possum or raccoon.

The only thing I’m more abundant in than berries is flies. It has been a banner fly year. I’m not sure if you’d call it a good fly year, or a bad fly year, but let’s just say there’s a fair few of ‘em. Appreciative as I am of all forms of biomass, I could stand to have fewer flies tickling my ankle hairs and landing on my baby during naps, but I’ll just remain thankful I’m not a goat on pasture, as they’re also seeming quite annoyed, stomping and shaking in the midday sun. Bring on the spiders, I say.

The mud daubers agree, as they busily take clay from our cob buckets and construct nests stuffed with paralyzed little orchard spiders, the living meals for their young. Such strange, fascinating things, these itty bitty critters do.

As of yesterday evening the sweaty, nasty, dense haze of summer moved out for now, pushed along by a swift, torrential storm, complete with corn-flattening winds. Here at Critter Kitchen, dinner was about to be served. In addition to our usual crew of diners, I was preparing a meal for about a dozen or so visitors. Dinner would be the usual fare, turnip fritters, collard greens, and pintos. Yum yum.

Keep in mind that our kitchen is outdoors, and has only one wall. Caleb hollered down from his tree house that a storm would be blowing in shortly, but being tired of this same old story (we’ve had many rains inexplicably navigate around us this year), I shrugged it off as I added yet more grease to my turnip cakes.

Then came the rumble and roar of thunder, a creaking of tree limbs, and intense, horizontal rain. The sorta rain that hurts. Five-gallon buckets, cloth diapers, feed sacks, tin cups, leaves and thorny little sticks all started whipping about. I might’ve seen a chicken set a flight record.

This is about the time all the visitors showed up. After a few moments of sorting out the sensible and unsensible desires of this crew, most folks headed to our root cellar on the count of three. It can fit a lot of people when there’s no food in there.

Eventually, the severe weather subsided, I checked on the toilet paper, the livestock, the rain gauge, and dinner, in that order, and after a few more moments spent picking up and drying off our plates, we had a swell time eating greasy turnip patties, joking and dripping wet.

While some folks have a preference for slightly more formalized get-to-know-you type activities and conversations, these are the kinds of bonding moments that I appreciate about our visitor sessions: sharing in the experience of the natural elements, be they as pleasant as the taste of wild berries, or rough as the late July heat followed by an intense gullywasher. Nobody, as far as I figure, makes it through Dancing Rabbit without at least a little mud on ‘em. You ought to come on and try it some time. The mud you have at home ain’t quite the same.

After a storm, especially a windstorm, a common sight in our village is helpers. A handful of folks will usually walk about, check on people, animals, tents, and homes for signs of damage, and help out if an outhouse needs propped up, or if some laundry needs to be found somewhere out there in a three-acre radius, or if some scattered chickens or goats need herded. I’d like to think of us as a community of helpful doers. No one can probably help me with my windblown tomatoes, or my wet toilet paper, though.

Sadly, I must announce that one of our helpful doers has passed into the next cycle of existence. Dennis Hoffarth, my neighbor and good friend, and a very helpful doer well before Dancing Rabbit was even an inkling of an idea, was laid to rest here one week ago.

Anyone who’s spent time with Dennis can tell you that he was a tireless worker for change, a dedicated builder of hope, and the sort of idea man who was willing to walk his talk. That is not to mention that he was a truly fun friend to work with, and funny as hell, too.

I can only attempt to memorialize Dennis from my own point of view, as I know his impact was felt in innumerable ways, by innumerable people. I will probably always think of him when I’m riding or tuning a bike, training my left hand to saw as well as my right, or hoisting an improbably large object into the air.

In my first year here at DR, I had the opportunity to work on the frame and foundation of Robinia, the home he built with his partner Sharon, and in that time I was introduced to concepts as mundane yet useful as shims and kerfs, and some greater, deeper ideas, about how to treat people and the planet with thoughtfulness and respect. I myself, and many others, will miss his wit, observations, and ideas. I aspire to be near as helpful a doer as he was.

For a person dedicated to cooperation, Dennis did things against the grain, at least when that was beneficial for all of us. One of his major pursuits in that department was practical, functional bicycling. Before it was cool for grown adults to ride around on bikes (ok, it’s always been cool, just not hip), Dennis was talking that talk, and walking it too.

Maybe peddling the pedal, would be the appropriate wordplay. He paved the way for whippersnappers like me to ride bikes safely and meaningfully. That’s why it seemed obvious that he ought to be brought to his final rest by bike. Supported by many friends, family, and neighbors, Dennis took his final ride last Monday morning, as well-secured cargo on our community bike trailer. Many helpful doers made preparations for the burial site and ceremony, and even more were on hand and available for the necessary help and support in Dennis’ final days. I lack the words for all y’all. Maybe just thanks, and I’m sorry, and love you.

An ecovillage, by definition, is meant to be a fully featured settlement. We have the occasional need of midwives, and yes, the occasional need of undertakers. A few hours after Dennis was laid to rest, our July visitor session began, and although we had let them know by email and phone what the community was going through, I am sure that many of them became more immediately aware that Dancing Rabbit was in a place of tenderness and mourning. I hope that they see it as a place of great caring, too.

Death sure can be scary, and it is coming for all of us at some point. What happens after that ain’t none of my business.  I’d like it to come for me in a place like this, where the experience can be shared and felt more equally, where we can be as present for the dying as we can be for the children growing up in the world that the dying have given us.

And Dennis wanted to give us a better world for growing up in. I cannot help but look at my own kids, one of them fierce, free, and occasionally sweet, the other one basically either sleeping, laughing, or crying, but typically drooling, and hope that all of us together are going to build the world that others have so thoughtfully dreamt up for us. Happy trails, neighbor.

* * *

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit outside Rutledge, MO, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. We offer public tours of the village on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, April-October; the next is Saturday, August 13th at 1 pm. Reservations not required. Tours are free, though donations to help us continue our educational and outreach efforts are gratefully accepted. For directions, call the office at 660-883-5511 or email us at dancingrabbit@ic.org. To find out more about us, you can also check out our website: www.dancingrabbit.org.

Area Families Stepping Up to Meet Needs of 57 Foster Children

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

Efforts of local families are meeting the needs of 57 area foster children in Scotland, Clark and Schuyler counties, but more foster parents are needed.

In Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties there are currently 57 children who are not able to live with their own family due to safety concerns.  Foster families provide a safe, comfortable and caring haven for these children during this traumatic time.  Staying connected to familiar and reassuring things, such as friends, school, and routine activities, helps lessen the stress and change a child must cope with in his or her young life.

“It is through the commitment of foster parents that children who have been abused or neglected are able to remain in their community in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Rachelle Curry, MSW, Circuit Manager.

Unfortunately, remaining in the community is not always an option if a foster family is not available when a child comes into care. Some children must go to a neighboring community, far from the community they know.

“We are always in need of more families who will open their hearts and homes to children in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland counties,” said Curry. “Foster parents make children feel safe, nurtured, and loved, and they provide support for children and families during a challenging time in their lives.”

Anyone can apply to become a foster parent in Missouri, as long as they are 21 years old and willing to go through the training and assessment process.  That process includes background checks, health screenings, financial discussions and home assessments.

“You don’t have to be married or own your own home,”‘ said Curry. “As long as your housing and income are stable and meet licensure standards and there is room in your home and heart for more family members, you are likely to be approved.”

There are other ways to support children living in foster families in your community, and Curry said she and her staff will be happy to work with community members to explain how to donate items or personal time to support children in foster care.

To learn more about foster foster parenting or ways to get involved, visit http://www.MOheartgallery.org or call Laura Babington at 660-727-3393, ext 229, or 1-800-554-2222 for more information.

“The Missouri Children’s Division would like to thank everyone in Clark, Schuyler, and Scotland Counties for their generosity and support of foster families during our foster parent appreciation activities this year,” said Curry. “We have outstanding foster parents and it was a wonderful opportunity to recognize their dedication to helping children in foster care.”

Recently a local a pool party was held to demonstrate appreciation to foster parents and the children they are supporting. The following local businesses donated to help make it fun and memorable event: Casey’s General Store, Community Bank of Memphis, Exchange Bank of Kahoka, Memphis Pizza Hut, Scotland County Ministerial Alliance, Scotland County Pharmacy, People’s Bank of Wyaconda, Shelter Insurance – Tim Bertram, and Vigen Memorial Home of Kahoka.

Edina Woman Hurt in Crash Near Baring

An Edina woman was injured in a one-vehicle crash near Baring early on Monday morning. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jessica L. Leckenby, 37, suffered moderate injuries in the crash that occurred at 6:35 a.m. on July 25th.

Leckenby was southbound on Highway 15, two miles south of Baring when the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the right side of the roadway and struck a ditch before overturning. Leckenby was flown from the scene by Air Evac helicopter to Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Baring Fire Department, Knox County Fire and Rescue, and the Knox County Ambulance Service.

The vehicle sustained total damage and was removed from the scene by Lakeside Towing of Memphis.

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