In my novel NEARLY CANAAN, Jaya searches in her spare time for an means of personal expression that isn’t quite poetry or prose but somehow truer to her spiritual stirrings. After I finished drafting the book, I came upon an exhibit of Shaker gift drawings and writings channeled by one member of the monastic community to be presented to another. Sometimes these would also originate as song, and an unique form of musical notation also arose.
In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya leave Prairie Depot and settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. It’s not where they promised themselves that they’d relocate, but it would have to do. At least it was hilly and wooded.
Here are a few of the things they discovered.
The Ozark Mountains, also known as the Ozarks Plateau, stretches into five states but is situated mostly in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. It’s the highest land between the Appalachian and Rocky mountains, having some peaks of more than two thousand feet elevation.
Technically, there are two mountain ranges: the Boston Mountains of Arkansas and the St. Francoise Mountains in Missouri, the latter having some of the oldest rocks in the United States.
The majority of the region is forested. Logging is a major industry.
The plateau is laced with underground caverns. Found deep within some of them is the species of Ozark blind cave salamanders, which lives nowhere else in the world.
The shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks is longer than the coastline of California. The man-made lake covers 61,000 square miles and is a popular vacation site.
The Ozarks has a distinctive culture, architecture, and dialect deriving from its backwoods heritage. Square dances were a popular social activity, as was storytelling.
Historically, the Ozarks were predominantly Baptist or Methodist in faith. Today, the Assemblies of God and Baptist Bible Fellowship International have their world headquarters in the region.
Big-name live musical entertainment has made Branson a major tourist magnet.
Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas and with 77,000 population, is the third largest city in the state and is the principal metropolis in the Arkansas part of the Ozarks. It claims to defy many stereotypes about Southerners and could well be the model for Dolomite Center in my novel.
Wal-Mart is headquartered in Bentonville, a short drive from Fayetteville.
After years of taking the same route, have you ever been startled to look up and see something striking for the first time?
I’ve driven or walked past this almost daily for the past 20 years but simply hadn’t noted the one detail. The 9-11 in the address.
Firefighters across the Northeast feel deeply about their fallen brothers in the World Trade Center attacks, especially those afflicted later by the toxic consequences. Dover’s professionals are no exception, as the mural painted across the back of the Central Station parking lot proclaims.
When I gazed up and saw that hyphen in 9-11, I thought they had inserted it in the street address – 911 – perhaps as a sign of continuing support.
Then my eyes caught the address next door – 7 – and I realized the station sits at 9 and 11 Broadway, where it’s been for more than a century. How coincidental, then, that its address would line up with a much later significance.