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Digging for Gold

Reflections from the Road, Rick Mansfield


“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”  So professed our own beloved Samuel Clemens writing under his pen name of Mark Twain.  I have found those people that interest me most are so “constructed”—boy or girl.

And what type of treasure they choose to dig guides their life.  Determines their profession.  Cements their relationships to others and to this earth.  Inspires others around and influences our very future.

Some seek in the ground, in our waters, and in our woods.  Naturalist John Burroughs believed it “took years to exhaust the botanical treasures of any one neighborhood.”  Some in art; others in music.  A palette of paint and yet-to-be touched canvas; a slab of marble or piece of driftwood.

For some, it is the blank page.  And for that, what is often mined is the human heart.  British novelist Charlotte Bronte, of Jane Eyre fame, believed that organ “has hidden treasures.”  Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee noted “Inside every human being are treasures to unlock.”

I was recently reminded of a treasure in my own life, a fellow columnist and friend of many years.  Amanda (Grace) Wallace, author of the weekly column Along the Banks of Blair’s Creek.  It is in the Summersville Beacon and The Current Wave.  Her books, including the Fierce Grace series, may be found on Amazon.  She can be reached at

Along with her weekly, witty and down to earth column, and her inspiring and very entertaining books; Grace is a canner.  Right now, has elderberry syrup and elderberry and peach jam.  Elderberries she harvests “along the banks of Blairs Creek” and the bottoms of Current River.

One has to admire the spirit of someone who can mine both our native gems of flora and burrow into the intricacies of human emotion.  Grace does both well.  And, with husband Doug, is raising six children.  Off the grid.

We have availed ourselves recently of some of these products, as our many songbirds have decimated our berry crops.  We did have some of the elderberry “blo” pancakes earlier.  Critters have beat us to persimmons, blueberries, what few blackberries there were; along with much of our own corn, beans, and tomatoes.

Critters have yet to invade my laptop or office, so I am turning my focus back to writing.  After filing this column, plan to head to Batesville, Arkansas to do research for an upcoming book.  Hope to have the energy to stick around and listen to Mary Parker and Family perform at a local barbecue.

There is another treasure I have come across, meeting at the Baker Creek Seed Festival in Mansfield.  She plays a fine country fiddle; younger brother Gordon plays a good guitar.  Youngest member of the group, nine-year-old Charlene, embodies joy!  When I do my “handshake presentation” and explain why gentlemen remove their hats when meeting a lady, she is the personification of a “gift from God!”  Check out these angelic smiles on Facebook Mary Parker Music.

Much like the elderberries that grow on the sides of our roads and edges of our fields, along our streams; there is much undug treasure here in these Ozark hills and hollers.  Because of teachers like James Orchard who read to his Timber School students from William French’s Wrestling the Wilderness and Edna Staples who encouraged me to write; I am “rightly constructed.”

I will continue to dig for treasures—old stories, haunting melodies, young smiles.  And to share them.

Thanks for joining us!

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