Rocky bluffs line the Jacks Fork River along most of her 50 miles. It’s one of the two streams creating the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which twists thru the Ozarks toward Arkansas.
We’re lucky to have use of a cabin nearby. Cathy is taking in winter warmth. I’m remembering summer warmth downstream…
“Let’s make a fire,” we agree as the rain finally stops. We dig our way through nearby forest to find dry wood. Soon the blaze roars away. Mac and Ocean go fishing. Ocean saves a Goggle-eye barely bigger than goldfish you see in parks. I give him a rough time but Ocean says, “Wait till you taste this guy!”
There’s no grill. Ted suggests throwing a rock into the fire for a cooking stone, pulling it out when there’s coals. “Set the fish on that, then turn it to cook both sides.”
Just as the last flames die down, Ted places maybe twenty ears of corn on the smoldering logs. Kay had helped pick them in the morning along with a tub of strawberries and red raspberries. We’ve all brought something to share, which is spread out on a colorful ground cloth.
Twenty minutes later, Ted rakes the once green, now charred, ears of corn out of the coals with an old branch.
The husks make our fingers black as we peal them back then pick off the silks. Fingernails scrape burnt husk bits off the bright yellow kernels. They glisten and steam. The husks make a handle, the ultimate convenience food.
Ocean pulls me off a chunk of meat from his catch. Did that charred rock leave the sweet taste of the river?
We stand around eating like starving savages, and laugh because it’s so good. Is this what the river’s all about?
Eating and drinking, enjoying our stories while sitting in the cool water or napping in the shade? Who could want more?
At least we know how damn lucky we are, for now. No butter or salt needed though some put Corliss’ fresh-made pesto on his or her roasting ears.
She and Ocean have almost as big a garden as Ted and Kay. “But the coons are starting to find their way in,” she says. “It’s a constant battle. We’re lucky to have this now.”