I happened to be in Poplar Bluff for a few days in early April. For a funeral, which seemed unseasonable, since it was about as springtime as I can ever recall it being. This spring--the spring of 2012--is one I'll remember for the rest of my days. In part because it has been so beautiful. And in part because the funeral was for a man who lived a life as beautiful as the spring.

But it's still hard to be somber on a spring day, so I figured that I as long as I was in Poplar Bluff, surrounded by family, I should at least see if could get one of my brothers-in-law in trouble with one of my sisters. Mike, as is usually the case, ended up drawing the short straw.

We drove over to Van Buren, to Big Spring, and had about a half hour to walk around and take pictures before one of my sisters--not his wife, but my other sister--called and chewed him a new one. So we got right back in the car and drove back to Poplar Bluff.

I don't know the names of these little purple flowers:

But I see them every year at this time, always in stream bottoms. The best stand I ever saw was at Red Bluff, along the Huzzah (Red Bluff is a place I need to get back to in the fall, as soon as the canoe season is over and the campground clears out).

Mike is, as is common in my family, a pastor. And a good one, I think, or so I've gathered from seeing him around young men he's pastored. So I take it easy on him, and try to avoid subjecting him to my strangely patchwork mix of systematic Calvinism and hillbilly Emersonianism. Which is just as well, since I usually end up just as confused as whoever I'm talking to.

Still, I couldn't avoid the obvious scriptural reference, just to show that I have been reading something other than dead Transcendentalists and Dutch guys. With scenes like this, how could I help it:

If they stocked it, Big Spring would be prime trout water (and in winter, it's sure to be good for goggle-eye). So it's safe to say that I've spent a lot of time--too much time, in fact--staring at water like this. Every time--every last time, without fail--I see it, I remind myself, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. "

I suggested to Mike that perhaps Big Spring is a fair image of that water, a visible lesson, much as we read, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen . . . " I think Mike got my point, but I'm not sure.

I'm going to drag my wife down to Big Spring in May. I'd like to spend a solid afternoon at there. Take lunch, a book and a couple of chairs, and spend the afternoon reading in the shade, next to the stream. Fish a little, maybe. See if my wife is maybe quicker to see my point.