Saturday, June 6, 2015

Beauty of the Ozarks at 5,000 Feet

The Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas holds a myriad of beautiful sights and notable locations. One walk along the Buffalo National River will attest to that, and yet so much more is held within the hills of this region. Forests, caverns, creeks, and rivers, all adorned by regal bluff lines towering overhead. Crystal clear waters flow through untouched woodlands where creatures great and small live in protected bliss. A resident of this region for over 30 years, I knew all the beauty this area held at ground level, but nothing could compare to a view I experienced recently.

I luck into things, occasionally.

I have the good fortune of working with someone whose preferred mode of transportation is a small plane, and as this luck of mine would have it, we had a meeting on the west side of the state this week. I've flown with him several times before, but always on clear days with maybe a wispy cloud in the distance. This time, something about the partly cloudy skies changed everything I thought about my Ozark Mountains.

On a clear day, an aerial view shows the vast green forests, with serpentine rivers cutting their paths, and ridges beyond ridges of layered vistas. On a partly cloudy day though, the shadows cast by the clouds on the landscape somehow enhanced the definition of the hills, illustrating the graduated misty colors all the way to the horizon. Through each break in the clouds, the hills put on their best show, but the clouds created their own production right outside my window. The region somehow looked different to me, more beautiful, perhaps because I have never seen it from that view, wearing its best outfit. Until then, I never really knew it.

Flying through clouds on a commercial airliner loses something. The magic is stunted by the sheer size and altitude of it all. Small crafts, however, put you right at eye level to these clouds, close enough to introduce yourself. All the tension I had felt earlier in the day faded away as I watched out my window to see the puff and billow of new clouds forming, while the ever-transforming shapes whooshed past us. This flight was different. This flight showed me the best of Arkansas. This was the day that I saw its truest beauty in all it intoxicating wonder.