These Ozarks Hills

The first Friday of every month at 7:30 a.m.

Join us for a monthly radio essay by longtime Ozarks storyteller Marideth Sisco, in which she looks at the unique traditions and traits of this region we call home.

Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS / (Flickr)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. I had only about one toe in the Ozarks this past weekend while I and some companions visited friends and family up near Columbia. Our aim was to reconnect with a young woman we’d known almost since birth, had sometimes helped raise and had stayed behind as she went on her way into adulthood. She’s in her mid-thirties now and is bright, confident and remarkably self-aware. 

Emily McTavish / KSMU Archives

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. We here in the hills have been asked recently to do what most folks have had to do routinely in other parts of the world. That is, to adapt gracefully and with some ingenuity to enormous changes in our environment.

Emily McTavish / KSMU

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. And this has been the oddest August so far. There’s been so much rain that everybody’s garden is still alive. What a thing. In the Ozarks, that’s a very big deal. The Ozarks is special and has been for a long time for a lot of reasons: its beauty, its history, its unique culture.

But the Ozarks has held its character as the westward flow of immigrants passed it by, chiefly because nobody wanted it.

West Plains Daily Quill

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. I’m pausing to reflect on milestones, and how, as we get older, we accumulate more and more of them. I just collected another one from the sidelines, upon hearing of the retirement this week of my mentor and former employer Frank Martin III, editor and publisher of The West Plains Daily Quill. He was the son and grandson of respected journalists, one who helped begin the University of Missouri’s school of journalism; the other a seasoned World War II correspondent.

Kathryn Ledbetter / (Facebook)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. It’s June. Shouldn’t I be turning on my AC by now? Well, maybe today. These days, though, I doubt you’d find anyone anywhere who’d say this weather is normal. It’s odd even for the Ozarks. And then California and Texas they’ve traded weather patterns; and where there was record breaking historic drought in Texas there are killer floods destroying communities, tearing up homes and washing away the fragile, unprotected earth. And California, the Golden State, is starving for water.

St. Louis Botanical Garden
Aaron Carlson / (Flickr)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. It’s May Day today, which in many countries has been a long celebrated traditional day of festivities; with towns and villages across Europe celebrating springtime fertility of the soil, livestock, and people in all kinds of ways with village fairs and community gatherings. Since the reform of the Catholic calendar, May 1 is also the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of all those who toil. In socialist and communist countries, it is international workers day. Here, we pretty much dance around the maypole and be done with it.

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Well, spring has come in the door, fitfully and uncertain, like a child who has done something probably bad, and doesn’t know if you know it yet. A warm day or two and then a burst of snow, and another. Rain maybe, but where it will fall too much or too little no one knows.

Mother Nature is nothing if not fickle. Just like a woman, we say. Well, I’d like to say a little more about that.

Too Much is Plenty

Mar 6, 2015
Rachel Kramer / Flickr

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. Living in the Ozarks, it pays to be weather wise. We expect March to come in like a lion, and this March has proved no different. I’ve not been out but three times in as many weeks. Living in the country, alone, and at the road’s end, I’m careful about the weather. 

I shouldn’t complain, especially when the eastern seaboard is in such a horrific mess. It’s not nearly that bad here, it’s just miserable.

Stacey Spensley / Flickr

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. I've just come in from one of those trips that gave me the label of Snowbird. I went south, way south, and then with only a day at home, I've gone north, all the way north to where it's snowing. So I guess I've met the criteria. 

markus spiske / (Flickr)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Well, wouldn’t you know it? We just got finished celebrating or commiserating about 2014 and here it is 2015, and another New Year is upon us. Or is it?

I’ve been reading up on the calendar, and it turns out the more I know, the less I understand. Trying to create a calendar to accurately keep track of the yearly circuit of this planet around the sun isn’t easy, especially when that planet completes its circuit in exactly 365 days, 5 hours and  49 minutes, give or take a few seconds. 

Hey Paul Studios / Flickr

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. I always feel when I come to the ragged end of the year that I’ve been in a year-long race, and will just barely make it to the finish. There is always too much to do, and at my age, the time goes whizzing by until sometimes I mistake the second hand for the hour hand on the clock. This year has had its share of ups and downs for everyone, but it’s also had its blessings, and I’m thankful for them as well.

Radarsmum67 / Flickr

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Well, November is here finally. The frost officially found the Halloween pumpkins, and the relentless garden has finally gone to bed. And so can we, just as soon as we figure out where to put those last jars of applesauce and those boxes of sweet and Irish potatoes.

You know, don’t you, that the garden is actually never done? It’s just been put on slow forward.

Alan Levine / Flickr

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. You know, it’s a funny thing, but even though I always know this little talk is coming I’m never sure what it is I’ll talk about until I sit down to do it. I may have plans for a talk. But I never know for sure.

For instance, here it is October, I was all set to wax eloquently on the joys of life in the late garden, and how there is more than one official harvest season in the long, lazy Ozarks fall. And I had a few things to say about where the holiday Lammas got its name. But all that fell apart when I had a sudden fit of apples.

rubygirls / (Flickr)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills, asking: How big is a garden? It’s a silly and unanswerable question, and sounds like those old jabberwocky jokes that passed through in the 60s, like “what’s the difference between a duck? Answer: One leg’s both the same. There is either no answer, no answer that makes any sense, or “it depends.”

Wikimedia Commons

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how one’s perspective changes over time. In other words, I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more the things I think strike me as very funny sometimes, especially when put up against what I used to think.

For instance, when I listen to the news, I no longer agonize about the possible consequences of the things people do. I almost never gasp and exclaim – “ Oh my goodness. What am I gonna do about that?”