Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2014

Wahoo at Morris Park

By Curt Swarm | Oct 25, 2012

I had never heard of Morris Park, outside of Stockport in Van Buren County. When Dorothy Gilbert of Stockport called me, and told me about Van Buren County’s Scenic Drive, and asked if I would consider setting up my rusty junk sculptures in Morris Park, I decided to check the park out. Morris Park is just north of Stockport off County Road W-30. At the first curve, follow the signs. There are a couple of miles on gravel road, but a clear dust control has been applied, so it’s smooth sailing.

Van Buren County has a lot to offer, mostly along the Des Moines River. Towns such as Farmington, Bonaparte, Bentonsport, and Keosauqua are rich in history and rustic river beauty. Stockport, on the other hand, is far removed from the river. (There’s no port. It’s named after Stockport in England.) Morris Park may be one of Van Buren County’s best kept secrets. Nestled in a forest of hardwoods, there’s a campground with showers and electricity, a fishing pond, and pioneer village. Dorothy Gilbert told me Morris Park rivaled Old Threshers for pioneer equipment and decor. I believe her. There’s a huge red barn chock full of old steam equipment, pioneer tools, threshing machines, covered wagons, you name it. Also, in the park is an authentic one-room school, blacksmith shop, and log cabin. Sweet. I made up my mind I wanted to set up in Morris Park and be a part of the Scenic Drive. My rusty junk sculptures would fit in just fine.

As fate (or luck) would have it, there had been no rain in SE Iowa for a month, but on the weekend of the Scenic Drive, it rained and stormed most of the time. My rain gauge in Mt. Pleasant recorded 2-1/8 inches of much needed moisture. Needles to say, Van Buren County’s Scenic Drive was pretty much of a bust. That is, unless you have rusty junk sculptures. Rain doesn’t hurt rust. It enhances it. Add to that the falling leaves, and being one of the few vendors to hang in there during inclement weather, Morris Park, for me and my gal, was a great time.

Even in the rain and wind, fall days are beautiful. We sat in the comfort of Old Blue, my pickup truck, watched the rain fall through colorful oak and maple trees, and listened to football games on the radio. Both Iowa and Iowa State were playing at the same time, and we switched back and forth between the two. Iowa State lost by only six points to a No. 6 rated team, and Iowa won in double overtime. How exciting! Vehicles would drive by and slow down as people goggled at my sculptures. Occasionally, someone would pull over and venture out into the rain to see my stuff. Fun time.

Alongside the truck, I noticed some little red flower buds, wet and gleaming against the fall backdrop. On closer examination, they looked like little redhots, shining in a tiny bun of homemade bread. I had never seen anything like it, nor had my girlfriend.

I solicited Morris Park “experts” as to what this jewel might be.

“Wahoo,” I was told.

Euonymus atropurpureus: Eastern wahoo is a deciduous, Missouri native shrub or small tree which is most often grown for its attractive red berries and fall color.

I now have have a half dozen wahoo seeds drying in an envelope in my basement. In the spring I will plant these seeds. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I will have wahoo, and a touch of Morris Park adding color to my yard.

“Wahoo!”

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

 

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