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Have you seen Big Springs lately?

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007, at 5:59 AM

Okay, fellow bloggers, I know that this topic cannot compete with previous tales of kudzu, feral yellow labs, and armadillos on the half shell, but I just have to have an excuse to post a photo of Big Springs that I took last week. I emailed it to my sister at Springfield City Hall, and she liked it so much that she put it on as her wallpaper. I cannot believe that the spring water is so GREEN!!

Actually, I hadn't been to the Van Buren getaway since my husband and I were dating, and that's ....let's see...at least forty years ago. I've driven through Van Buren on my way to Springfield hundreds of times, and I always thought, "Mmmm...I need to go down and see Big Springs again," but I never did it. The park is about four miles from Van Buren and is SUPER worth the trip. I had also forgotten that it's a national park, and I am SURE that it didn't have all those restrooms when I was there 40 years ago! (Yes, I know, all you smart alecs are saying, "Well, Madeline, they didn't have indoor plumbing when you were young, did they??")

Judging from the parking lots, they do get crowds at least part of the year, but we were there in the middle of the week, and it was absolutely idyllic! The grounds are kept like a golf course, and, since they have obviously received more rain than we have, it was so GREEN! My friend and I ate a picnic lunch at one of the picnic tables, listening to the sound of rushing water from the spring.

I also didn't remember the stone path that leads from the caves, up along the hillside. Surely, that wasn't there 40 years ago! It looks like something out of a Tarzan movie!

The trip illustrates to me how I've taken our own Missouri attractions for granted all these years. I took my students on two trips to Europe, when there are so many things to see in our own home state.

I don't have anything monumental to say about all this. I just wanted you to see this beautiful attraction, which is two hours away! Sample the water cress while you're there!

From the hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural trip advisor, Madeline, signing off.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Is the water green or blue? Whatever color - it's gorgeous!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 26, 2007, at 8:38 AM

My family went to Big Springs once when I was a kid. I remembered it very fondly. Once on a more leisurely trip than normal through Van Buren, I took a side trip and went to see Big Spring again. It was also mid-week and not quite peak season and the park was idyllic. Just as you said. Perfect description.

Thanks for posting the picture and conjuring up some pleasant memories.

By the way, I remember a trail that went up the hill a little ways to the side of the spring from when I was a kid. I saw it again when I went back as an adult. Funny how it looked so much smaller than I remembered it.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Sep 26, 2007, at 12:15 PM

Here I sit all alone, eating my lunch and answering the phone.

Madeline's out,having a ball. Getting paid to take pictures and picnic at the local waterfall.

Something's amiss in my choice of career,the college brochure lied is my fear.

Oh my cyberpal Missouri Jones,it's true-on days like this-it's good to be you!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Wed, Sep 26, 2007, at 12:27 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Oh, my! Original poetry on my blog! Wow! Yellow Rose, you never fail to amaze me...!

As for my getting paid to go to Big Springs, sorry to disillusion you, but I do these trips (Big Springs, Whippoorwill Lake, Marquand) on my free day (which is Wednesdays). Of course, I write them up on company time.

I spent 32 years punching a clock, so I DO enjoy a job with some leeway...

Madeline, I think the green color is a reflection of the leaves more than the color of the spring. Can you imagine what the same shot is going to look like in a couple of weeks when the leaves change?

There's a lot of neat stuff to see even closer than Van Buren. There's a spot in Bollinger county with a pond that is very,very deep. Danged if I remember what it's called, but it is a beautiful place. Not to mention Mingo and Duck Creek. Don't forget Wappapello. Lots of good stuff around these parts.

Great picture, by the way. Have you thought about entering it in a contest?

-- Posted by scotswoman on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 12:25 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Mmm...I guess I'll have to go back to Big Springs in the winter and take a follow-up photo. I think I can manage that!

I think that spot in Bollinger County is called the Block Hole, but I don't remember how to get to it. It's another place where my husband and I used to go early in our marriage, when he was such an avid fisherman. I will have to check on it.

There's also Elephant Rock/s up north. I've heard that the park up there has been cleaned up, since the Taum Sauk disaster. I've never been there, and I want to see it, too.

Funny you mentioned Mingo -- I was there on a recent Wednesday trip, but I didn't take photos, for some reason. Beautiful woodlands...but we never got to the water..

I'll post a photo of Whippoorwill Lake, too.

Interesting idea about the contest. Maybe I'll do that. It's actually hard to take a BAD photo in that location!

I have been in many European countries and cities, the Middle East and South East Asia and I haven't seen anything in those countries or cities that you can't find something more interesting or at least equal to right here at home and most of it in Missouri. I never want to leave the U.S. again.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 6:31 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I'm beginning to feel that way, myself, I.B.! This is such an enormous country; even a short trip can yield wonderful surprises.

I agree with I.B. I've been all over the world - well, at least the western hemisphere - and I've seen some wonders, but nothing to compare with home. I'll be able to spend the rest of my life just seeing the wonders in the US without ever needing a passport again.

I'd like to go down to Arkansas and play in the dirt in that diamond mine. I have no illusions of finding a big diamond, but it would be a fun trip. I just love rocks. They need not be of the precious kind.

Love your poetry, YR.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 1:00 PM

If the green in the water is reflection from the green trees, won't it be stunning in the fall????

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 1:03 PM

Gee Madeline. First I think you should be writing short stories professionally and now Scotswoman thinks you are an undiscovered award winning photographer! I hope the NSC is paying you commensurate with your remarkable writing and photography talents!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 2:25 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Hahaha! Did ya hear that, Boss???

Sorry, FJGuy, I already made the mistake of telling my boss that if I didn't need the money, I'd do this job for free! I really, really like it.

I didn't get rich teaching, and I guess I won't get rich writing!

What you told your boss is no problem. Just tell him that your "I'd do this job for free" comment was a faux pas. At the time you were daydreaming about willing to be Jane in Tarzan for free, or was it Ann in King Kong? But at any rate you were most definitely not aware of who you were, where you were, who you were talking to, or what you were saying! That should do the trick!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Sep 27, 2007, at 8:02 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Do you know for a fact that the girl's name in "King Kong" was Ann? FJGuy, is there anything you DON'T know??

GL- could FJ be "Film Junkie"?

FJ, I agree with Madeline-is there anything you don't know?

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Fri, Sep 28, 2007, at 7:25 AM

"Film Junkie" is a definite possiblility, YR! He's answered every obscure film question that's come up on these blogs - no matter what year the films came out.

Of course, he's answered practically every other question, too, though I'm not sure all our bloggers agree with him.. Right, I.B.?

Let's test him: FJGuy, what film star was the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II??

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 29, 2007, at 6:36 AM

Oh for heaven's sake GL. Everyone knows that is Audie Murphy! But oh my, what an absolutely ... OK I'll be kind. Without the notoriety of Mr. Murphy's wartime exploits his inability to project personality on the screen would have resulted in his film career lasting for one film test.

The flip side of that is Kirk Douglas wrote in his autobiography, The Ragman's Son, that while Marilyn Monroe was magical on the screen, in person she didn't project personality. BTW, did you see that recently released FBI files show that MM was considered by the feds to be a communist sympathizer. This has renewed speculation that she was murdered by fed agents to prevent politically devastating political blowback from her romantic dalliances with John and Robert Kennedy.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Sep 29, 2007, at 2:16 PM

Madeline, Big Springs does look like a very peaceful and meditative place. Is that the only spring? Is there any mythology that the water has magical rejuvenating properties? How far is the spring from the parking lot? (Further away could mean fewer people.)

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Sep 29, 2007, at 2:35 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I haven't heard of any mythology...I'll check. The parking lots are close to the spring, so that isn't the problem. Van Buren is just pretty remote, itself. I think they're getting more traffic, now that the 4-lane is being put through that area.

Okay, FJGuy, I figured that the Audie Murphy question was a little too easy. I know he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag, but he was so darn CUTE!

I had read that rumor about MM, and I'm not surprised she was under investigation. It was a sign of the times. After all, the McCarthy trials were in the not-too-distant past.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 29, 2007, at 9:09 PM

Actually, MD, Big Springs could provide the backdrop for one of your future short stories. Let's see. ... The plot could be that an enterprising, but absent minded reporter accidentally finds that there is a prehistoric amoeba in Big Springs (predating the dinosaurs) that can at least temporarily aid the recovery of lost memories. She discovers this after noticing that whenever she goes to Big Springs she can remember things that she had forgotten. ... and so on and so forth. You could write short stories about all the places you visit, and the fictionalized reporter could be Missouri Jones! (With all due credit to YRofE for the name.)

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Sep 30, 2007, at 4:16 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
That's a pretty cool story plot, FJ. Maybe I can get started on that idea when winter winds blast across Missouri, and I'm huddled by my fireplace under a giant afgan and two cats.

That's provided that we HAVE a winter. October dawns this morning with temps still in the mid-eighties...

Hey, Missouri Jones, I like Film Junky's idea. You could put your stories on your blog and once a year publish an "Best Adventures of Missouri Jones." I'd buy it - particularly if you throw in a few bonuse "unpublished" adventures.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Oct 1, 2007, at 11:41 AM

GL, some Marilyn Monroe fun facts:

She was an avid reader.

She was the first actress to start her own film production company. (Her company produced "The Prince and the Showgirl," that starred Sir Laurence Oliver and MM.)

Her ex-husband, playwright Arthur Miller, wrote the screenplay for "The Misfits," which turned out to be the last movie for both Clark Gable and MM. Prophetically, the movie's last scene shows Gable and MM sitting together on a cloudless night looking at the stars.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Oct 1, 2007, at 6:28 PM

Madeline,until I began reading your blogs, I never purchased the NSC newspaper,now I look forward to Wednesdays. I love your style,and I too encourage you to write a book.I love female heroines,so I imagine a group of retired school teachers/goat herders,each with a particular strength based on what subjects they taught,who use basic low-tech sleuthing to solve mysteries and keep their poor deceased dear friends dimwit children out of trouble,who happen to be the local sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney (not based on any actual persons,just any dimwits you may have known).

Our intrepid detectives also have to work to pay for their taxes,supplemental insurance and med co-pays their teacher retiree checks do not cover,so as a Wal_Mart greeter,NSC reporter,florist at Advance,secretary at the local funeral home,baker with many dead husbands and "missing" boyfriends,aspiring local winemaker,Minnie etc.they have unlimited "sources" plus any relatives they have to include in their sleuthing. I picture Missouri Jones as Jessica Fletcher if she had really smart girlfriends with country smarts!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Mon, Oct 1, 2007, at 6:29 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Cool ideas, guys! But are you sure you aren't over-estimating my abilities?? I guess I could start the story, and then everyone could add to it, like we sometimes used to do in class..

Yellow Rose, it's no wonder you like my writing style: If you'll remember, one of our bloggers pointed out some time ago (in a land far away) that we had similar styles. Yes, yes, it's called OTW---"Off the Wall"...

What shall we call our sleuthing adventure? "The Adventures of the Road Kill Gang"? "The Golden Oldies"? "The Geritol Generation"?

Madeline, you've got a big leg-up on Cervantes, he was nearly 60 when the first part of "Don Quixote" was published. Don't be modest, you are already a published author! "Unlocking the Past" has many terrific stories about abandoned Stoddard County towns. (Those towns provide more food for fictional stories!) See Wikipedia entry at,


An exotic title will give it an alluring aura -- "The Mysterious and Wondrous Adventures of Missouri Jones" -- or some such title. You've got a lot of brainpower on the blog to help with details like that. Your imagination and wondrous pen is the key!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Oct 1, 2007, at 9:15 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Mmmmm....some of those abandoned towns WOULD make excellent settings for a mystery... "The Tale of the Mesler Maniac..." "The Headless Heagy Horseman.." "The Case of the Swinton Swindle"...

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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