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The Observer March 31

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The Observer has had eggs on the brain. We turned to the subject last week, asking some friends how many old eggs they’ve found post-Easter. Old eggs equal trouble. Our neighbor reported that her dog had found an aged Easter egg left undiscovered in the yard, ate it and came inside to throw up. This same neighbor has a friend who has a Great Pyrenees. Her name is Clara, and she lives on a farm with goats and chickens up in Goshen. It’s her job to guard the goats and her mistress. However, she has taken advantage of the hens’ habit of laying their eggs all over the place by eating a few before her mistress can get to them. But Clara wants to be loved — especially since she is now sharing space with Snow, a Great Pyrenees delivered to the farm last week by Arkansas Independent Great Pyrenees Rescue. Combined, they are 260-plus pounds and when they start playing, the goats go and hide. Clara, fearful Snow would take some attention away from her and knowing her egg thievery had not been appreciated, left a love offering for her mistress the other evening. She tenderly brought an egg into her house and laid it — well, placed it — unharmed on the rug beside her mistress’ bed. Morning came, her mistress awoke, swung one leg out of bed and, alas, stepped on the egg. Snow, it turns out, saw the chickens as dinner on the run. Pens are now protecting the chickens from the dogs and eggs from premature cracking. Stepping on a fresh egg is better than finding one wedged between a lampshade and the light bulb many months after a rainy Easter. The Observer was invited to an evening garden party in the Delta last week. The hosts and hostesses, whose ancestral blood runs deep in the remnants of the Big Woods, greeted us in their customary high-pitched voices, chattered gaily and flitted from spot to spot. Such party animals! It wasn’t really a garden, but open pine woods where we gathered. It was quite damp, requiring that we wear knee high rubber boots to attend. Still, we were more than entertained. One of the hostesses was a gorgeous gal; we couldn’t take our eyes off her, though we tried to hide the fact that we were staring. Then, one of the men began a flirtation, right before our eyes, with another woman at the gathering. Now, we openly stared. But our story is a sad one. Our lovely Delta hosts, so friendly and lovely, are, like many in the Delta, having a hard time hanging on. The gorgeous Borealis — her garment a vision in chiaroscuro, jet black against her gleaming white cheek — was all dressed up with no place to go. But go she must, because she can’t make a living in that neck of the woods. And who knows how successful she’ll be finding another place or a mate of her class and habit? It’s partially her fault, of course; she’s so particular. And the farm economy is killing off her kind. She needs 200 acres and a man to keep her Delta bloodline alive. Not just any 200 acres, either, but 200 acres of pine savannah. Once, she could have made her own home — the pines in her neighborhood were old, softer and easier to build with. Now she needs help. Borealis is, of course, a red-cockaded woodpecker, and all it took for us to fall in love with her was a visit to Pine City with folks in the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the Nature Conservancy. Fortunately, every time we sell a home, we help Borealis out. A little bit of that tax, which goes to the Natural and Cultural Resources Council, has gone toward keep her vanishing kind alive, by maintaining what habitat is left and acquiring new property to develop into more habitat. Private timber companies are doing their part, too. If a male red-cockaded woodpecker booted out of his clan — only one pair gets to breed — is able to stake out territory in one of the few places left for him to lord over, Borealis could be caught and taken to him. Let’s hope she gets to pass on her looks and happy peeping. What a price we’ve paid for our pine — this beautiful, social little bird. When party animals have no place to party, we’re not having any fun, either.

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