The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

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When a business related trip took me to Northwest Arkansas recently, I built in time to visit Peel Mansion and Museum, in Bentonville. I’ve wanted to see this grand old house for several years, however I usually stop by too late in the afternoon to get a tour.

This time, Greg and I squeaked in on the last available tour of the day. I’m so glad we did. This beautiful home has been faithfully renovated and restored, in a way that preserves the authenticity of the house’s past.

Not only was it fun to tour the house and gardens, taking photos as I went, it was also interesting to learn more about the family.

For spooky October, this is installment two, the ghosts of Peel Mansion.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion title

Peel Mansion History

Col. Samuel W. Peel built his mansion in 1875 and name it The Oaks, in honor of the many oak trees surrounding it. It is a two story stucco and brick masonry building, with a three story hip roof and a rectangular tower at the front of the house.

Samuel purchased the  180 acres in 1872, promising his wife Mary Emaline that he would build her a house that rivaled the ones she remembered from her childhood in Alabama. This Italianate style mansion, with its 14 rooms, fulfilled that promise. Eight unique fireplaces grace the home, each created as a work of art by John C Sheffield. Double front doors open to a covered veranda.

The ground level features a large entry with stairs that lead upward, a ladies’ parlor, designed by Mary as a place to receive guests, Samuel’s study, where he worked diligently on his business papers and a formal dining room. The kitchen is separate from the rest of the house, for safety reasons.

Upstairs there are bedrooms for the parents, daughters and sons, a sitting room and an extra room that over the years served as a nursery and later a sewing room.

A steep flight of stairs leads from the second floor to the attic.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion exterior
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – side view
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion dining room
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – dining room

The Peel Family

Samuel Peel was born in Arkansas in 1831. He was a lawyer, politician and jurist who served in the US House of Representatives from 1883 until 1893. When Arkansas seceded from the Union, he served in the Confederate Army, ultimately reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He married Mary Emaline Berry in 1853 and they had nine children, eight of which survived until adulthood.

Mary requested the addition of cellar rooms beneath her new home. During the Civil War, she saw houses burned to the ground, including her own home at that time. And she witnessed starvation among her neighbors and she and her children experienced hunger as well. As a result of those difficult times, her cellars were always filled with food from her huge garden, along with apples from the orchard. Mary was known as a generous woman who shared that abundance of food with others.

Mary died in 1906 and Samuel moved into a smaller house, shortly after. Over the years the home passed through several owners and began to decline. Eventually it sat empty and neglected and was under consideration for demolition when the Walton Family purchased it and restored the house, preserving its history.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion parents' bedroom
The parents’ bedroom upstairs
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion Bucky
Bucky the rocking horse was loved by four generations of Peel children. It has a permanent spot in the house.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

There are three ghosts associated with Peel Mansion. Staff, tour guides and visitors frequently report paranormal experiences.

The Ghost of Samuel Peel

It seems that at least a couple of the Peel family members liked the house so much that they chose to stay around.

Colonel Peel makes his presence known in various rooms throughout the house. Primarily, however, he is seen or heard in his study where he spent much of his time in life working, meeting with dignitaries or reading.

Samuel is seen as a shadowy figure prowling about the house or he is experienced through loud, unexplained sounds and footsteps.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion Samuel's study
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – Samuel’s Study

The Ghost of Minnie Bell Peel

The other family ghost is one of the daughters, Minnie Belle.

She is spotted in the house and described as a playful young woman wearing white. And she is quite musical. Minnie played the piano in Mary’s parlor for guests and also for her father, who especially enjoyed his daughter’s musical abilities.

Tour guides and visitors report hearing the piano playing in the empty room. However, if anyone enters the parlor while the piano is playing, the music stops abruptly.

Interestingly, the piano is known as a coffin piano. The top closes, creating a flat surface for a coffin to rest upon. Back in the Peels’ time, a loved one’s body was kept in the house after death, so that family and friends could visit and pay their respects to the deceased. The front parlor was the most common room for the dead to lie in, hence the piano that doubled as a table for a coffin.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion coffin piano
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – the piano in Mary’s parlor

The Ghost of Margery English

The English family purchased the Peel Mansion in the 1920s and moved into the home. The family included four children, two sons and two daughters…twins Margery and Elizabeth.

As a child, Margery fell ill. Eventually she suffered from a ruptured appendix. A local doctor and nurse attended her at home, performing surgery in her upstairs bedroom on a makeshift operating table. The infection from the appendix was so severe that the doctor gave Margery little hope of recovery and didn’t even close the incision. The nurse cared for the young girl until she passed away, 10 days later.

Margery’s body lay in her bedroom, covered with a sheet. And this is where the story gets strange. Five hours later, Elizabeth saw the sheet move and cried out for help. Margery, it turns out, was not dead. According to her account, she felt herself leave her body and move toward a bright light, however she was not allowed to go beyond that point and eventually returned to her body.

The Ghost Girl

Margery survived, grew up and married. She brought her husband to the home she grew up in, now owned by Lee Allen. Margery’s room, where she had surgery and died, was locked. Mr. Allen explained that the room was haunted by a little girl that cried and they didn’t use that space. Supposedly, the room remained locked for 40 years.

Staff and visitors hear a girl crying in that bedroom still. And some report experiencing a sudden drop in temperature in the room and feeling a sharp pinch on the arm by invisible fingers.

This story is an unusual one in that the girl died, but did not remain dead and yet there is a haunting associated with the room. Could it be the energy of extreme grief that permeates the room? And perhaps the crying comes from Margery’s twin sister.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion girls room
The Ghosts of Peel Mansion – girls’ bedroom

My Experience in the Peel Mansion

I didn’t do any research on the house until after my tour. And I deliberately did not ask our tour guide about ghosts in the house.

As an intuitive, this is what I felt.

Mary’s parlor felt odd to me…like I was on alert and watchful eyes followed me. I did not hear the piano play however I felt drawn to it. My scalp tingled, which is my sign that benign spirits are present.

I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary in Samuel’s study.

Upstairs though, I felt a great heaviness as I walked into the girls’ bedroom. Greg and I were alone in this room, which houses a collection of vintage dolls. I don’t like dolls. But the heavy feeling didn’t come from them. The energy in this room made my scalp tingle even more and I could hear a faint clicking sound in the room…disturbingly like dolls eyes snapping open and closing.

Sadness permeated the room. Reading about Margery after the tour I thought of her illness, her near death experience, the grief of her family and then the girl’s year long recovery. Those strong emotions seem to linger in the room.

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion gardens
The gardens surrounding the mansion are beautiful.

Visit Peel Mansion

If you are in Northwest Arkansas, stop by this beautiful, interesting home. Tours are free. Peel Mansion is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 until 3:00 with the last tour beginning at 2:30.

The property, which contains the house, a gift shop and botanical gardens, is located at 400 S Walton Boulevard, Bentonville, Arkansas. After your tour, visit the charming downtown square for lunch or dinner.

Have you visited a real haunted mansion before? Where was it located?

The Ghosts of Peel Mansion

 

Check out last week’s spooky post:

Bigfoot Stories from Blue Ridge GA

 

 

 

 

 

The Momentary

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

This month’s Friday road trip took Greg, Ferni and me to NW Arkansas. An advantage to living in Joplin, Missouri is that Oklahoma and Kansas are literally minutes away and Arkansas lies 30 minutes to the south.

Thus far, my road trips include jaunts into Oklahoma and Arkansas plus a road trip in Missouri and a weekend getaway in Joplin. I’m looking at you now, Kansas! Next road trip I’ll find something to explore there.

Bentonville, Arkansas offers many fun attractions.  A new contemporary art museum/gathering place, The Momentary, drew our interest and curiosity this trip.

Come explore The Momentary with me and tour the fascinating Nick Cave exhibit, Until.

The Momentary title meme

The Momentary Museum

A former cheese factory, The Momentary repurposed the existing 63,000 square foot space to create a contemporary museum and social gathering place. The multidisciplinary building houses space for visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, artists in residence and more.

Architects left most of the building intact, minimizing the carbon footprint and the use of new materials while preserving a piece of Bentonville history.

Founded by the Walton Family, The Momentary’s mission is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life.

Admission is free. The Momentary is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 7:00, closed Monday. During this time, masks that cover the nose and mouth are required at all times, while inside the building and on the grounds. Social distancing and the limitation of guests is in effect as well.

The Momentary boiler room
Original boiler room, inside The Momentary.

The building offers distinctive spaces.

Galleries

The large, open galleries and attached smaller rooms feature art and exhibits that change throughout the year. The current exhibit, Nick Cave’s Until, remains at The Momentary through January 3, 2021.

The Tower

The 70 foot tall Tower contains multiple mezzanines for visual arts, performances and social events. It’s capped by Tower Bar, a social space offering drinks, bar-type food and spectacular views.

Seating is currently limited to 40 guests and parties limited to 10 people.

Tower Bar hours are Tuesday – Thursday, 5:00 – 10:00, Friday – Saturday 5:00 – midnight, closed Sunday – Monday.

The Momentary tower
The Tower

Rode House

In Rode House enjoy films, performances and gatherings in a customizable space with an adjustable floor system. The Rode Bar, located off of Rode House, offers patio seating for drinks and snacks.

Rode House hours, Wednesday – Thursday 5:00 – 9:00, Friday 4:00 – 11:00, Saturday 11:00 – 11:00, closed Sunday – Tuesday.

The Momentary courtyard
The Rode Bar with outdoor seating.

The Breakroom

Located in the original breakroom of the cheese factory, The Breakroom offers lunch and dinner in a space overlooking the galleries. Due to following COVID guidelines, The Breakroom is temporarily closed.

Onyx Coffee Lab

Located to the right of the main entrance, on the lower level, Onyx Coffee Lab provides a fun place to rest and grab a coffee and a snack. Sit inside or on the outdoor patio.

Hours, Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 7:00. Closed Monday.

Momentary Shop

The Momentary Shop offers prints and books by featured artists and wonderfully unique gifts.

Momentary Green

Outdoors Momentary Green provides room for activities, picnics, gatherings, music, art exhibits and special events.

The Momentary tent and sculptures
Momentary Green

 

Artist Nick Cave: Until

For Nick Cave, a dancer, fabric sculptor and performance artist based out of Chicago, Until is his largest, most ambitious project yet. The exhibit occupies 24,000 square feet of gallery space at The Momentary.

The title Until comes from the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”. For some in the US, black men in particular, Nick explains that the words “guilty until proven innocent” ring more true. Until is the word that changes everything, the hinge into the unknown.

Nick’s new exhibit is, partly, a response to the killing of black men across the US.

He hopes that the immersive nature of his art invites the viewer to “step in”. Because once you step in, you are no longer an outside observer, you are implicated, involved.

Step into the different elements of the exhibit with me.

The Momentary wall art
The Momentary – art projected upon the walls and floor

Wind Ornament Forest

Walking into the Until Exhibit, the first large room features thousands of colorful spinners and pinwheels. Strung from ceiling to floor, the initial effect is dizzying, joyful and playful. A path winds through the forest of spinners that do indeed rotate, reflecting flashes light.

On closer inspection, I realize many of the spinners contain silhouettes of guns, bullets and targets. Those silhouettes powerfully change the whole feel of the room. The images within the twirling spinners brought to mind the words “moving targets”. It unsettled me and made me reflective, which is Nick’s intention I believe.

The Momentary pinwheels
The Momentary – the first room in the Until Exhibit, spinners and pinwheels
The Momentary Nick Cave Until
The Momentary – thousands of spinners fill the room. This is a small segment.

Crystal Cloud

Leaving the spinners, we enter a room divided into distinct areas.

I veer to the right, my attention captivated by the sparkling crystal cloud suspended above me. Thousands of crystals dangle from wires and chandeliers mounted on a cloud shaped structure.

As Nick worked on the spinners project, a question arose.

“Is there racism in heaven?”

The question birthed the crystal cloud. Beneath it, the chandeliers dazzle. Looking up through a large chandelier, I glimpsed a floor above, covered with found objects. Peering up reminds me of the song, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven”. The lyrics tell us that loved ones who pass on watch us and watch over us, through the holes in the floor of heaven.

Four yellow ladders give access to small platforms, which in turn offer views of heaven above the cloud. Nick collects found objects and heaven contains a wild assortment of ceramic birds and animals, gold statues, flowers, fruit, an old phonograph and, disturbing to me initially, those small lawn jockeys that used to be popular years ago. I never liked those statues.

They depict seated black boys holding out a lantern, a fishing pole or a ring through which horse reins could be tied. Nick rescues these statues, from flea markets and yard sales, and places dream catchers in their hands, symbolizing a new life where anything is possible.

We climb stairs to the mezzanine, to view the top of the cloud and other massive works of art better seen from above.

The Momentary crystal heaven
The Momentary – Crystal Cloud below
The Momentary - heaven
The Momentary – heaven above – Nick Cave Exhibit

Beaded Wall Art

After studying the top of the cloud, and allowing feelings to surface, I turn to examine the magnificent beaded wall art. Millions of glass and plastic beads, strung on netting, create waterfalls of color. These massive works of art boggle the mind, hanging in a three story space.

How long did it take to create these?

The security guard below told us to look for the hidden messages. They aren’t hard to find. On one wall hanging a peace sign and a happy face peer at us. On the other, the word POWER stands out.

Nick drew inspiration from graffiti marred cliffs he saw, as he traveled on the train from Penn Station in New York City. In that graffiti, words of hate caught his attention. Nick re-framed his experience, creating instead colorful art that offers hope and optimism.

The Momentary - hanging installation
The Momentary – beaded wall art
The Momentary inside hanging installation
Standing inside one of the wall hangings, looking up.

The Flow

The last room we visit contains a moving, visual work of art titled Flow Blow.

Fans on scaffolding continually blow shiny blue and silver mylar strands into the room, creating a soothing waterfall effect. The hum of the fans and the mesmerizing movement of the mylar strands work their magic.

Nick intends for this room to provide a peaceful environment to process thoughts and emotions. He hopes people walk away, back through the exhibit, changed by their experience.

The Momentary flow
The Momentary – Flow Blow

My Thoughts About Until

This is a unique and moving exhibit, by a talented artist.

I read that in 1992, Nick sat in a Chicago park, stunned by the news of the beating of Rodney King and the LA riots. Feeling vulnerable, as an African American man, and targeted, he gathered sticks off of the ground.

In his studio, he turned the sticks into his first soundsuit, a wearable sculpture with a defensive shell. Nick’s soundsuits effectively mask the entire body, erasing identity. This man’s art continues to provide a platform for civil discourse, debate, change and ultimately, hope.

I felt the contrast between the bright, colorful works of art and the deeper, sometimes darker messages they contain. I love that the exhibit is so large. It allows time to process images and feel the emotions as I slowly wander.

The mental image of Nick sitting on a park bench, wondering what might happen next, troubled me. I’ve never had a gun pointed at me. I’ve never been afraid that I am a target. The closest I can come to knowing that level of vulnerability and fear was when the EF5 tornado ripped through my Joplin neighborhood in 2011. Crouching in a closet, hearing the sounds of destruction around me, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know if I would survive.

That is a tiny fraction of what others feel, especially in the black community. And that hurts my heart.

Momentary

I deeply appreciate the art of Nick Cave. My heart stirred, I feel inspired to create change. I want to listen and learn and discover how I can be that change.

Momentary is defined as “lasting for a short time”. It’s the perfect name for a place that frequently changes what they offer. My time at The Momentary was brief however the impact is lasting. I look forward to more experiences there. And I look forward to seeing what continues to unfold in my life as a result of my visit.

The Momentary Ferni
Ferni’s photo, at The Momentary.

Learn more about Nick Cave HERE.

 


 

 

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Journey 66: True Treasures

true treasures exterior

Today was such a gorgeous spring-like day, temps in the 60’s, abundant sunshine, signs of earth’s awakening everywhere. I journeyed to Arkansas to visit Greg’s dad. We chatted and enjoyed a late lunch together and Greg and I did a little laundry for Dad Moore while we visited. As we left, the day just called to us, and we headed east, no real destination in mind, no schedule, no appointments to take us back to Joplin yet.

true treasures entrance

As we drove the winding road, approaching Bentonville, AR, Greg suggested I google antique and junk shops, to see what was nearby. We both enjoy browsing through these treasure troves. It’s a type of scavenger hunt, where you don’t know what the item is that you are searching for, until it catches your eye and your attention. I located a number of such stores in the area. Yet the one that pulled me toward it was called, interestingly, True Treasures, located at 10770 Hwy 72 W, Bentonville.

true treasures booth 2

In a few moments, thanks to my phone’s GPS, we had arrived. I was intrigued immediately, just with what I could see grouped in the yard and on the porch of the inviting structure. As I opened the front door, I noticed the hours of operation. Saturday the shop closed at 5:00. The time was 5:05. I’ve worked in retail. I know how it felt when a customer walked in just as I was closing up. I hurried in to ask if they were indeed closing. The sales clerk VERY, VERY graciously invited us in to look. I had already seen enough, from my peek through the door, that I couldn’t resist that invitation!

true treasures booth 3

We moved quickly through True Treasures, exclaiming over interesting finds. The displays were so artfully and creatively arranged and there was a bit of everything there, from painted furniture, old doors and windows, and vintage linens, to collections of buttons, Scrabble tiles, and wooden blocks. Even the public restroom was adorable with items for sale sharing space with the toilet and sink.

true treasures buttons

Loved this big bowl of loose buttons!

True Treasures is the type of space that makes me smile, and that I normally would linger in for quite some time. Today, I didn’t linger. I was very conscious of keeping the sweet woman who invited us in, late. We will come back and visit another time. The merchandise changes daily, and I have no doubt I can find new treasures every time I stop by. Tonight, I spied almost immediately what I wanted to purchase on this trip. A pair of black and turquoise stools caught my eye. They are perfect for the island in my kitchen and loaded easily into the back seat of my car.

true treasures booth

What a beautiful store, aptly named, designed to delight and inspire. I’m so glad we stopped. And so grateful for the kindness of the young woman inside. It was the perfect adventure for this beautiful day. I’ll be back!

true treasures stools

Day 193: Bentonville Square

Bentonville Square e

After working this morning, I headed to Arkansas with Greg. We visited his dad first, enjoying a trip to Braum’s and a good chat. Time with Dad Moore is precious and we spent a lazy afternoon on the front porch, cooled by a summer breeze, watching the happenings of the neighborhood.

Greg’s cousin Pam lives in Bella Vista and right now, her sister, Greg’s other cousin Linda, is visiting from Illinois. We arranged to meet them in Bentonville, AR, in the town square, for a fun evening together. My first for today was to visit several interesting places on or near the square.

While waiting for the cousins to arrive, Greg and I sat in the park, in the center of Bentonville Square. With water splashing in the large fountain and trees to shade us, we spent a pleasant 15 minutes watching people stroll through the park. The flowers were in bloom and I was struck by the beauty of the park and also of the square itself. It was reminiscent of the square in Carthage, however, Bentonville has more green spaces. The park was a great place for people to gather throughout the evening.

Bentonville Square Flying Fish e

After Pam and Linda joined us, we walked to a restaurant just off the square, The Flying Fish. We arrived just ahead of a huge crowd! The interior was fun and casual. There was ample seating and after ordering, we found a booth in the corner. I sampled their catfish basket. The meal was excellent and conversation flowed easily back and forth. Linda made us laugh when, after admiring a basket of fried okra at another table, the friendly diners allowed her to sample their food!

After dinner it was time to explore the square. Bentonville is Walmart country. The retail giant began in this small town, when Sam Walton opened his first shop, a Ben Franklin store called Walton’s 5-10. There is a museum on the site of the original store. Although there are times I hate the thought of having to go to Walmart to shop, I wanted to take a peek. We walked through fairly quickly, however, I learned a lot about Sam Walton. Greg’s dad knew Sam. He always described him as a humble, genuine man. Sam had a dream of bringing the best American made products to families, at the best prices possible. His first Walmart opened in Rogers, AR, in 1962. His story is one of perseverance and innovation. And no matter what the feelings are toward this mega company, the Walmart Foundation does a great deal of good all around the world, including in my city of Joplin.

Bentonville Square Walton 5 and 10e

We continued our walk around the square and then veered off again to visit the 21c Museum Hotel. I have never heard of this franchise, and indeed, there are only three such properties thus far in the chain. This Louisville KY based combination of contemporary art museum and boutique hotel was launched in 2006 by a pair of philanthropists and art collectors. It is the only museum in the US dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art and the hotel has been voted in the top ten in the world and the number one hotel in the south. We wandered through the exhibits, looking at all manner of interesting art. The mascot of 21c Museum Hotel is a penguin. AR has a green one, being the natural state. This icon shows up everywhere. A kind worker took our picture with a large blue snail and a pink meerkat.

Bentonville Square 21C exterior e

Further down the block, we cooled off at the Ernest G. Lawrence Park splash pad. What a cheerful place. Kids darted among the sprays of water that shot randomly into the air. After watching for a few minutes, we discovered which fountains only bubbled up, rather than sprayed and kicking off our shoes, Pam, Linda and I ventured in. It was invigorating to get our feet wet and play for a moment.  Refreshed, we sat and watched the kids. Joplin has a splash pad at Parr Hill Park. I made a mental note to visit it as a first.

Bentonville Square splash pad e

Lastly, we strolled back through the square to The Spark Café located next to the Walton Museum. I learned that the asterisk looking symbol, associated with Walmart, is called Spark. The café is an old fashioned soda shop featuring ice cream, sodas, floats, sundaes and pie. It was a great place to end our evening together. I intended to only get a drink but succumbed to a slice of blueberry pie a la mode. Ah well. I got in a good walk this evening! And the pie was delicious.

We parted company back in the park in the center of the square. A man was singing with a karaoke machine while many people milled about. I loved the festive atmosphere. The evening reminded me of Joplin’s Third Thursdays, only this is a common occurrence in Bentonville. I think Joplin is on the right path, redeveloping the downtown area. I’d love to see this trend continue and the possibilities expanded. And I loved spending time with Pam and Linda. Greg and I enjoyed their company and I appreciated their willingness to experience firsts with me today. Pam gave me several great ideas for further firsts in this lovely state. Going beyond is showing me more of my own community and also expanding my adventures in other towns and states. I look forward to more trips of discovery  to Arkansas.

Bentonville Square 21C e

Day 132: Arkansas Firsts

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I had a change in plans today and headed to the Natural State, Arkansas. Greg’s dad lives in Decatur and Greg had not been able to reach him by phone. Being that his dad is 93 years old and only has a land line,  that was cause for concern. Thankfully, the phone line was malfunctioning and a call to the phone company resulted in the eventual correction of that problem. Greg and I were able to spend time with his dad, who wasn’t feeling well. Or as he put it, “Sometimes I think I’m getting old, and sometimes I know I am. Today, I feel old!” After a long and full life, he is feeling weary, at a very deep level. I’m surrounding him with love and light and gentle energy.

After leaving Decatur, I went in search of a first for the day! Greg’s cousin, Pam, and her husband, Jay, now live in Bella Vista, AR. I had not seen Pam for at least 13 years! And I had not met her husband. So while cruising toward Bella Vista, waiting for Pam to become available to meet, I spied with my little eyes….a garden center in Bentonville!

Some people can’t pass up a shoe store or drive past a Starbucks without stopping. For me, especially this time of year, this is true for garden centers. Bogle’s Garden City, located at 2105 S Walton Blvd in Bentonville, AR, was so fun to explore! With its attached greenhouses, it is much larger than it looks from the outside. I was searching for ornamental grasses, but I enjoyed wandering up and down the aisles and strolling down the pathways, looking at everything. I was impressed with the selection of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers, and I found the varieties of grasses that I was looking for! I want to spend time in Joplin this week, checking out our local garden centers, however, it was great to discover Bogle’s Garden City and know it is only a short distance away.

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Pam and Jay live in a lovely town right on the Arkansas/Missouri state line. It was great to see Pam again and meet Jay! We toured their beautiful home and stood on the back deck, as thunder rumbled overhead and the first fat raindrops began to fall, and discussed gardening and transforming backyards into sanctuaries. We left the house to visit the Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapel, but en route, the gentle rain became a torrential downpour, accompanied by lightning, thunder and briefly, small diameter hail. We scratched that first for today, and regrouped at Las Fajitas, a Mexican Grill, located at 42 Sugar Creek Center in Bella Vista. Another first, as this was a new restaurant for me.

We shared a great dinner and lively conversation as we caught up on each other’s lives and families and as I got to know Jay. I first met Pam and her sister and brothers years and years ago, when Greg and I were dating. Greg’s dad and Pam’s dad are brothers and the whole extended family used to gather for Christmas or a summer meal at Grandpa and Grandma Moore’s house on the creek in Noel, MO. We laughed over old stories and shared new ones. I always enjoyed being around Pam and her siblings and parents and I admired their obvious closeness as a family. It is amazing that we all have grown or nearly grown children and precious grandchildren now! Sitting there chatting over a cozy meal, it didn’t seem possible that so many years had passed. I don’t intend to let much time pass before getting together again. There are flea markets to explore in Bella Vista and the beautiful chapel to see.

I’m learning not to be concerned about finding firsts, but to relax into the experience, trusting that as my daily journey is unfolding, the first will be there, or as today proved, the firsts! Let the adventure continue….

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Jay and Pam