Gravy

There’s a sad phenomenon in so many of these precious old towns. Generally, more people lie under the ground than on top of it. I thought back to an experience I had in London. The date was November 11, and … Read More

On Seeds

There are seeds in every abandoned house, in the dry rotted floorboards and the mildewy walls, in the moss on the roof where sunlight doesn’t reach. The seeds are in the windowsills, in the clawfoot tub with as many rings … Read More

The Source

Hidden Waters Nature Park, the headwaters of the Niangua River. Headwaters are sacred, and townspeople have preserved this spot where the Niangua breaks into daylight. The water rushes from its spring and splits the park in half, cascading downhill at … Read More

Stars and Stripes born in the Bootheel

Tucked in gentle rolling hills on the brink of the Bootheel, the Bloomfield Cemetery tells a story. The chapters unfold one-by-one on the white tombstones of Confederate soldiers from around Bloomfield who died during the Civil War. Many are now … Read More

Joining Lewis and Clark

“Hands!” the sergeant barked at me. “Let me see your hands!” I stuck out my palms, and the sergeant inspected them for calluses. Seeing none, he dismissed me with a grunt. “Yer too green to make the crew. You’d never … Read More

My First Tropical Storm

And now, no wiser, I found myself in another bad situation. I had no idea that the winds outside were approaching 200 miles an hour, a nascar made of wind. With debris smacking the outside of the cabin, I slunk … Read More

Head Games

We launched a johnboat from the conservation access point and motored upstream along Big Muddy, upwind, toward a sprawling sand bar a mile away. Our most experienced hand assured us that the river, though deserving of respect and awe, is … Read More

The Ghost of a Roadside Inn

Took a nap beneath this sign, sharing space with the ghosts of travelers who stopped here long ago to add a sticky chapter to their Route 66 journey. It was a time when cars had crank-down window air-conditioning and tube … Read More

Dancing on the Edge of the Storm

Our bow cut a frothy wake as Scotoplanes bit through four-foot swells, rising to meet the front of each swell, gliding down the backside of the wave into the trough, then rising again. Fixed at the center of both sails, … Read More

Murder and Rebirth on the Prairie

Highway 13 cuts through a rogue’s gallery of America’s most brazen killers. The most ruthless killer in this area was a government employee: General Philip Sheridan. A Union General during the Civil War, Sheridan led a mostly unsuccessful raid on … Read More