I started counting the number of birds I could see from my window — like, right outside the window, fifteen feet away — and then something startled them and they swooped away and I realized that all the things I thought were dark leaves on the ground were actually small birds. I’m going to say — 200? 300? Not a countable number, that’s for sure. Sadly, they’ve now all moved on, but that’s probably a good thing for my productivity, since I find watching a flock of birds to be surprisingly compelling.

The last time I was in Arkansas, I got the very last space at an absolutely packed campground, Lake Catherine State Park. It was lovely, but it was spring break and it was crowded. Since this is Easter weekend, I decided that this time I’d be a little more proactive and I made a reservation at Lake Chicot State Park for five nights, taking me safely through Easter.


I’m going to say that last year, lots of Arkansians looked at the weather, decided it was a glorious time to go camping, and headed for the park. It was a glorious time to go camping. This year, those same Arkansians looked at the weather and decided it was a fine time to hunker down in their houses. It so is.

The campground is pretty close to deserted and also pretty close to drowned. The puddles are like lakes. The lake is not overflowing its banks, fortunately, but there are a lot of semi-underwater trees. Even Zelda, who doesn’t usually mind getting wet, stood at the open door of the van this morning and then decided against her walk.

Fortunately, my deserted rainy underwater campground is also very green and pretty. Loads of trees, all in early-spring mode instead of tail-end of winter mode. Light green leaves and life bursting out all over the place. So I’m not finding it spooky, I’m finding it charming. I’m helped just a little in this by the fact that I checked out the bathrooms this morning and they are terrific. I might have to take a shower every day just because the bathrooms are so clean and nice and new.

I’m slightly less enthusiastic about the fact that even though I paid for a full hook-up site — not a thing I do very often, so in the nature of a pleasant luxury for a holiday weekend — the separate pieces (water, electric, sewer) are positioned poorly for Serenity. Technically I have all three, but I have to choose which one I want to be connected to at any given moment. My hose isn’t long enough to reach from the water outlet to the van intake while the power is plugged into both the van and the power outlet, and ditto the sewer. So it goes, I guess. At least I have access to all three if I need them.

And I’m feeling pretty fortunate on at least one of those three. When I got here yesterday, I couldn’t get the electricity to work. I called the campground host, who sent someone down to take a look, but it was raining and he couldn’t figure it out. They moved me to a different site, and then a third site, so it started to look like the problem was Serenity, not the campground. I was not so happy. I can live without power for a while if I have propane, but because I expected to have power, I hadn’t refilled the propane tank. Frustration!

And then, for no reason I could see, the electricity started working. Based on the symptoms, the smart people in the Travato Owners FB group suspect that I might have a problem with my Automatic Transfer Switch — maybe a loose connection? — but it’s working now, so I’m just counting my blessings and hoping for the best.

blue jay and cardinal feathers

Speaking of blessings, did you know that it is illegal to own most bird feathers? It still feels magical to find them, though, especially when they are truly beautiful. It would never have occurred to me that picking up a feather could be a crime, but after I’d picked up the above, I was remembering the park ethos — take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints — and so I left them behind. Well, first I googled to find out whether something in nature would use leftover bird feathers — was I leaving them behind to simply decay and rot? — and that’s how I found out that feather possession is a crime. They probably will simply decay and rot, but I’m glad I got to appreciate them first.

Along the way, I stumbled across all the many spiritual meanings of blue jay feathers. I suspect the spiritual meaning of feathers is sort of a choose-your-own adventure spirituality, because wow, people sure have found a lot of deep significance in some poor bird having a misadventure. But I was pretty amused by one site that told me the meaning was to “Choose a couple of the many projects on your plate and complete them.” How perfect is that?

Time to listen to the wisdom of the feather!