Those who know me or have read this blog in the past know that I am not a hot weather fan. I love fall and winter, even spring until the temperature rises above 85 or so, but in all my mumblemumble years as a native Arkansan, I have never learned to like these hundred-plus degree summers. This summer has been particularly miserable, with Arkansas — like so much of the country — suffering a severe drought in addition to the heat. And it’s only mid-July. This week we were blessed with a little rain (though my area wasn’t as blessed as some others), and a break in the temperatures. Yesterday morning the temps were in the mid-80s and the sky just overcast enough to make for a pleasant morning. My husband John and I went out for breakfast at IHOP (he had a coupon for a free meal to celebrate his upcoming birthday, and we do love our coupons!), after which we decided it was just too nice to dive straight back into work. We spent the morning at Two Rivers Park in Little Rock.
Two Rivers Park is a thousand-acre tract of land at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Maumelle Rivers, accessible by a new, 1,368-foot-long pedestrian-and-biker bridge over the Arkansas River. The bridge is a beautiful structure with the center section built to resemble a rusty old railroad bridge. From the center of the bridge, you can see Pinnacle Mountain rising on one horizon — a popular hiking, climbing and picnic destination in central Arkansas. Looking from the other side, you see the I-430 traffic bridge, and beyond that a 4,220-foot pedestrian bridge known as The Big Dam Bridge over Murray Lock and Dam. Two Rivers Park is shaded by tall trees through which easily accessible hiking paths lead to picnic tables, benches and river access points from which to admire the view. We saw two pretty deer during our stroll who let us get very close before they turned and disappeared into the trees, and a duck flew directly in front of my face when I walked up to take a close-up photo of a turtle in the water.
Because it was a weekday morning there weren’t a lot of people making use of the bridge, which is often crowded on nice weekends, but we saw several bikers, a few others enjoying a nature walk, as we were, and a couple of moms with children all taking advantage of the lower temperatures and the nice breeze over the river. We had a lovely morning and made a promise that on the next nice day, we’ll walk across the Big Dam Bridge and take a few photos of the lock and dam. I use central Arkansas as a setting in many of my books. There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit here, and in coming weeks I’ll be featuring other local photos I’ve taken to give those of you who’ve never stopped by an insider’s look at the state where I’ve spent my entire life. It’s all too easy at times to take your own home grounds for granted. I’m glad John and I took a couple of hours to appreciate this beautiful state — even during a hot, dry summer.
I plan to spend the rest of this day sitting beneath a ceiling fan with my computer and my next book-in-progress (which happens to be set in the neighboring state of Texas). Wherever you are now, I hope you find relief from the heat, if you’re one of the many affected this summer, and a chance to take a break just to appreciate your own local offerings.