Local Lore

by | Oct 1, 2016 | Editorial

Creatures and happenings on the periphery of reality always spring to mind as the shadows lengthen in October. It’s the time of year we draw closer to the fire both literally and metaphorically. We yearn for comfort from the chill, from the uncomfortable, from the unexplained, and from the unknown.
In this issue of ABOUT, we’ve continued with our October tradition of telling stories about creepy local legends, stories usually whispered in hushed tones accompanied by nervous glances. This is also our second October issue to feature an artist’s interpretation of those legends on the cover as well as an in-depth interview with said artist. It’s sort of a way to get into the mind of the creator, if you will. It’s also a fun way to highlight some of the remarkable talent here in the River Valley. And it’s allowed me the liberties to write about some obscure River Valley folklore.
Mark Masters was our pick for this edition and his work speaks for itself. Though I did not write his story, I was able to sit down with Mark during our collaborative effort in this issue, and discovered that besides harboring extraordinary talent and a personable temperament, Mark is an extremely interesting person. Meeting interesting people is just one of the perks enjoyed as editor of ABOUT.
Also in this issue is perhaps one of the most intriguing features we’ve ever published. Jeannie Stone goes on a cemetery walk with Stephanie Warwick as Stephanie talks about stories seemingly lost and buried along with the souls of Oakland Cemetery in Russellville. It’s a touch of warmth and perspective from a surprising angle that’s often lacking during this time of year.
Folklore and legends play funny tricks on the psyche. I’ve canoed through a flooded Goose Pond in the twilight hours with nary a thought of encountering anything more threatening than a horde of mosquitos. I’ve catfished on the river bank through the darkest hours of a new morning worried only about running out of bait. But as I prowled through Holla Bend in the broad daylight just a few weeks ago, the distinct plopping of footsteps in river water was unsettling. Thick brush and the enormous girth of ancient cottonwoods hid the source of the sounds, but I was certain that something was drawing ever closer and my mind flashed to Mark’s sketches for our story. When I finally made it to the sand bar (a good bit downriver from where I thought the sounds were coming from) and peered upstream, I saw nothing but ripples fading in current… and then maybe just the hint of a shadow under the surface.

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