Happy Spring from Arkansas – Are the Fish Biting?

Spring brings promise of a new beginning

pile of snow on a lilac leaf
April snow decorates our lilac bush

Spring surprised Arkansas with an April 20 snowfall and the springtime promise of a new beginning… April. Who knew it would snow!

After a year wearing masks and hunkering down to fight COVID19, we are ready to take on the world.

Spring is in full mode. Masks, down. Flowers, blooming. Pollen, out. Lakes and rivers flowing, streaming with fish, welcoming the eager fishermen.

Fishing is in full swing

bobbers-bobbing-fishing-fun
In my day, there was nothing like fishing with a cane pole and bobber.

Proof spring fishing is in full swing is the sight of fishermen marching out of nearby tackle shops toting rods and reels and an extravaganza of tackle stuffed in bags.

Bought some river shoes at Bass Pro, and noticed a line-up of customers at the end of the customer service counter. The sign above read, “Fishing Licenses.”

My fish story

My childhood fishing gear was basic:  a cane pole, bobbers, a fish stringer, and a can of worms. Oh, and I had a bullhead skinner and a fish knife.

jar of fish bobbers and lures
Buy your bobbers early spring if you want a good selection

Catching fish – perch, catfish, bullheads, and sunfish – was a cherished childhood adventure. To bring back those memories, I keep a jar of bobbers in my studio.

I fished from the banks in Wisconsin lakes. I simply  tied a line on my cane pole, slipped a favorite red-and-white bobber on the line, threaded a worm on my hook, and was ready to cast my line into the water, hoping a fish would notice my worm.

Stringing a wiggling worm onto my hook made me feel courageous. Then there was the added adventure the night before fishing when I would search my lawn before bedtime, flashlight in hand, to catch night-crawlers for my worm can.

The excitement when the bobber dips under the water’s surface to signal I have a fish on the line is sensational.

Fishing is a professional sport today and lucky fishermen go to great lengths to outsmart fish. They captain sleek boats outfitted in style and technology, and zoom to their favorite fishing holes. The more serious fishermen have a  Fish Finder onboard to bounce sonar off the bottom of the lake in pursuit of a catch.

Spring has sprung

Birds in nest and kite high in sky
Happy Spring

April flowers are blooming and birds singing.

Along with the flowers and the fishing is the lawn mowing, garden planting, and pollen explosion, there is hard labor. It is early spring and already our garden is fertilized, our lawn seeded and mowed, three times.

But with all the work ahead, the delights of spring are hard to surpass.

“Are the fish biting?” Is how you strike up a conversation in Arkansas.

Early Snowfall and Pillowcase Art

Snowy art for pillowcases by Darrell Wiskur to color
Snowfall in the Ozarks

 A dreamy, deep snow came early to Arkansas, 2013.

We hope for snow in the Ozarks

We woke one morning to a mid-December snow, 10-inches deep, over a slick layer of ice. We were glad for the surprise snowfall.

It is always super nice not having to fret about if or if-not we will have a Hallmark snow before Christmas Day … always a quandary in the Arkansas Ozarks.

Snowbound and off school, the grandchildren went sledding, built snowmen, and decorated gingerbread houses … putting everyone in a holiday state of mind.

School buses, parked. Our world stood still.

As we were on the verge of cabin fever, the sun came out and melted the snow. Alas, we were as happy to see the snow go as to see it come.

How To Tutorial

Pillowcase art for a snowy Christmas

The snowy woodland scene is an illustration by hubby Darrell Wiskur for a book daughter Wendy O’Dell wrote and designed.

The book, Mommy’s Days, Planning Daily Activities with Infants and Toddlers, was published in 1998 by Heir Press.

Darrell’s illustrations were pencil line-drawings. The book was printed in black & white. I wanted to color it, so I scanned the art and turned it into a vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator.

I created shapes, which I filled with color, then added a gradient to the background in Photoshop.

I love the art and the verse:

Stars shining brightly
Soft snow on the trees
The ornaments of God
All nature can see!

Art for a pillowcase

So much in love with the art, I printed the snowy woodland scene on pillowcases for our grandchildren to color.

Our family likes a calming craft for the children before Christmas dinner. I thought this wonderful verse and snowy woodland scene would make a perfect Christmas craft.

I had the line-drawing printed on pillowcases at a specialty printing shop.

Oops, didn’t think that through

Grandchildren paint pillowcases on Christmas Day
Drew coloring a pillowcase with washable fabric pens.
Grandchildren paint pillowcases before Christmas dinner
Stephanie loves art and working hard
Painting a snow pillowcase on Christmas
You would have to be a surrealist to paint snow anything but white.

Coloring snow is less than a perfect idea. After-all, snow is white. Fortunately, we have creative grandchildren.

Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Night!

Merry Christmas‘Tis the joyous Christmas season

A favorite Christmas quote from A Christmas Carol, says …

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its Mighty founder was a child Himself.
-Charles Dickens

The key to happiness is to hold on to that child-like wonder at Christmas.

Bah Humbug! cross stitch needlework
Bah Humbug!

Alas, the holiday season can bring a mix of good and bad memories. Once, during my  Bah Humbug! period, I cross-stitched another Dickens quote, Bah Humbug! And beautified it with a gilded frame.

Foremost this Christmas, cherish the simple things of the heart.

Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes. -Charles Dickens

Merry  Christmas to all, and to all, a good life!

How To TutorialMy digital how-to artwork for story illustration:

In Adobe Illustrator, I penned a blue gradient for my snow bank.
rolling_snow300x
I created layers of art in Photoshop. On top of the snow, I layered my Santa art, created in Illustrator.
Then, I duplicated Santa and skewed him, dialing back the transparency for a red shadow on the snow. I imagined Santa’s suit would reflect a jolly red on the snow rather than gray.
Santa and his Shadow
To complete the illustration, I added a lens flair above the snow for a heavenly light.

Christmas Greetings illustration of the nativity
“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its Mighty founder was a child Himself.” -Dickens

And cropped line work of the Nativity by hubby Darrell Wiskur  from a Merry Christmas letter he designed years ago, commissioned by a dentist for his office Christmas letter. 

Read Luke 21:1-40, a Biblical record of the incarnation of Christ … Emmanuel, God is with us.