These Ozarks Hills KSMU's monthly series These Ozarks Hills features stories about people and places in the Ozarks collected and presented by long-time journalist and Ozarks native Marideth Sisco.
These Ozarks Hills

These Ozarks Hills


KSMU's monthly series These Ozarks Hills features stories about people and places in the Ozarks collected and presented by long-time journalist and Ozarks native Marideth Sisco.More from These Ozarks Hills »

Most Recent Episodes

Water: Something We Can All Relate To

TOH 8-17 This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Water. Seems like there's always too much or too little. In the Ozarks that can be true from one patch of grass to the next. Somewhere back in the long ago I remember a Disney cartoon in which Donald Duck was flying an old open cockpit biplane, hiring out to farmers to "seed" the clouds to make it rain. I have no recollection of the overall plot, if there was one. The part I remember is how he managed to make it rain exactly in the right place. The image in my mind is of a wooden perimeter fence around a pasture, and he was able to make the raindrops that landed on the fence, near the middle of the board, have one flat side, so that the rain only went where it was intended. It's not quite that bad, but the folks over on 63 got a nice little shower yesterday, and I got a couple of small round muddy spots in the dust on my windshield. In the Ozarks, when they say scattered showers, they mean scattered. A look on the radar this

"Change never comes without loss"

Come sit by my side, come as close as the air And share in a memory of time And wander in my words Dream about the pictures that I play of changes – Phil Ochs, from Changes This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. And today, in these turbulent times, I am thinking about Changes. They may come suddenly or slip in over time, so quiet, and stealthy we may not even notice until it's done. The snippet of the song I just sang was written in the middle 1960s by Phil Ochs, who was in his early 20s, as was I when I first heard it. As a generation, we had had the dubious opportunity to reflect deeply on changes, as we had been brand new adults, so new we sparkled, when our government discovered that Mr. Khrushchev had put nuclear missiles in our back yard, close enough to easily reach any part of our yard. And more were coming. And Mr. Kennedy had ordered Khrushchev to remove them, and said out Navy would destroy their ships if they attempted to land with their lethal cargo. We were on the

"There's no one to blame for a 500-year flood"

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Well, we just had our Blackberry Winter, so summer is on its way. The term, for those who don't know, refers to that last little cold snap that always occurs toward the end of May, while the blackberries are in bloom. After a season where April arrived in February, then January returned in March, it was a comfort to me that Blackberry Winter arrived this time, as always, right on time. I remember it clearly, on a weekend night as I let the dog out for a last late-night attempt to catch the local possum. Because I also am blessed, ahem, by local coyotes, I stepped out onto the porch to wait for her without donning jacket or slippers and was met by a sharp, chilly wind instead of the gentle night breeze I was expecting. Instead of jumping back in the house shouting "Brrr", I simply smiled and said, "well, hello there. I've been expecting you." Given the events of this past month, it was comforting to have something expected show up in our

The Vagaries of Life

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. As I've been searching for a subject on which to hold forth this month, I keep coming back to the word Vagary. It's from the Latin vagari "to wander, to roam, to be unsettled, or be spread abroad." Its most modern usage is, of course, the word vagrant. it's easy to see how that fits with the original definition of the noun vagāri, to be a wanderer. But vagary, today, is seen and used a little differently. One dictionary reference I found defines it as "an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone's behavior."Other words associated with it include change, fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity ... caprice, foible, and so on. All good, descriptive words. Interestingly, though, in modern usage, it is most often used in its plural form, as in "The vagaries of life, of fortune,, for instance. Like what we're experiencing now across the Ozarks. Today, the waters that have definitely been spread abroad

Tree Spinach and Apricots

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. April is upon us, with its tumultuous climate and treacherous weather, and we reflect again on the pronouncement of more than one Ozarker who said "If you don't like the Ozarks weather, just give it a minute. It'll change. I found myself this morning thinking that the person who wrote about April showers bringing May flowers must not have been living here when they said it This year we actually had a good healthy dose of April in February, when an extended and untimely flow of warm air currents blew up from the Gulf and stayed long enough to fool the peaches and a good many other flowering plants to put out their tender blooms too soon. Then the season came back to itself and froze them dead. Fortunately some disagreed and, on the advice of day length, waited their proper turn. Apples and lilacs, for instance, are blooming now, or they were until this morning when they got thoroughly chilled, and are now awaiting the freezing temperatures

In Like A Lion

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. Well, as the folks in Perry County can tell you, there's no question that March in the Ozarks came in like the proverbial lion. In ordinary times we would be confident in assuming that It will likewise go out as a lamb. But as nearly everyone can tell you, these are not in any way normal times. And about that, there's either too very much to say, or nothing at all. So the next thing to do might be to look to the signs of the seasons, and see what they might tell us. But no luck there, either, because except for a few days of January in February, the rest of February was just April, and what are we to do with that. I found myself heading to the garden, trowel in hand, just the other day, intent on finding space for a few early spuds. Then I paused to check the weather forecast and discovered that sometime overnight the temp was supposed to go to low 20s. It was 70 at the time. I just sat down in a lawn chair and enjoyed an hour of April

A New Year In The Ozarks

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. A brand new year is upon us, one which fills some with great expectations and others with just as great trepidations. Here in the Ozarks, a recipe for a host of conditions is often just as simple as a walk in the woods. And thankfully, wind and weather permitting, we have a lot of woods we can walk in. On this cold, blustery day, when I think of the woods, I am drawn to a memory of a day long ago, when I was a reporter for the West Plains Daily Quill. I was sent out every day to cover something different than before - court hearings, chamber meetings, crime scenes and all sorts of public events. Including the monthly meetings of the Audubon Society. It was there I met Mary Drummy, and not long after, visited her at her home. Down in her woods had been found the state record tulip poplar tree. I took its picture and went up to Mary's house to get the story of how that tree, not a Missouri native, had come to be there. She told me her family

A Gesture of Peace

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. Well, we've come to it again, the yearly descent into the long dark, an occasion that is as much metaphor as is the reality of day length. It won't console us a bit that while we descend into winter, the southern hemisphere is just now entering spring, even though that's the reason we are able to eat strawberries in January or cherries in March. They all come from the land down under – somewhere down under, as likely to be Chile as New Zealand. I'll never forget my first foray into reading about the concept of "permaculture," of arranging your home landscape into a system where every bit of it produces food, water and/or shelter as near to all year round as possible. They assured me I could grow plants not native to my own climate by planting them on the sheltered North Side of the house. It wasn't until the second such reference that I checked the small print in the front and discovered that the book was written by and for Australians,

Where's November?

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. I don't know if you've noticed it, but November is here, and something's just not right. There's no wood smoke in the air, for one thing. And the trees haven't had enough water to even change color before they fall. And as for the temperature, it may be in the 70s today, but just two days ago we were on the last of a string of days in the 80s. And it's November, for heaven's sake. Where do we think we are, Mississippi? This is supposed to be the Upper South. November 4th in the upper south, in case you don't know it, is supposed to be cold. Not very cold, and not every day, but we're 13 days now past the average fall frost date, and the best we've been able to do for a low is 42, not 32. Now I know it's no use calling in the law of averages here. In fact I once won a debate in high school (a long time ago) after my opponent used the law of averages one too many times and I asked him if, hypothetically of course, if a man had one foot on a

These Ozarks Hills: Signs of Fall

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. I don't know where it is you live, but out here in the rural Ozarks we've begun hearing whispers of fall this past week, as the Autumn Equinox has now passed and is receding into memory. We feel a little spark of energy in the cooler and dryer air. The leaves of the black walnut are the first to fall and are doing so, revealing the harvest that is already beginning to pepper fencerows and the tin roof on the machine shed. Those houseplants we put outdoors in the shade to enjoy the summer breezes and the soft rainfall seem to have suddenly become a little more present and watchful. Surely we mean to put aside a day soon to trim them back and scoop up the debris gathered at their bases, check for resident colonies of ants and bring them in. Surely we will. And soon, ok? And if we live out away from town and its services, and not in an all-electric home, our thoughts are also turning toward making arrangements for the winter's warmth, and we

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