By Hal Herring
At dawn on a January morning, the countryside around Stuttgart, Arkansas is an impressionist painting, brooding flooded hardwood bottoms fading without banks into slow gray rivers, harvested rice fields in colors of light butternut and yellow, turned black Mississippi Delta earth. Perfect clouds of snow geese, mallards, Canadas, teal, and wood ducks show dark and beautiful against the leaden winter sky. We--my son and daughter, wife, Lab pup, and I--saw it all not from a duck blind, but from Interstate 40, on the return to Montana from a 5000 mile-driving odyssey to visit family in Alabama, friends in Mississippi and Louisiana. We were towing a 14-foot aluminum boat, bought cheap from an old friend, so we traveled home slowly, not like on foot or horseback, but slowly enough to look at our country, to marvel at its wonders, to ponder its troubles.