William Blake believed one could see “a world in a grain of sand.” Such introspection is available to us all if we but try.

The smile of a child upon discovering something new; the crimson leaf yet to fall from a sassafras in the depth of winter.

These might serve as the portals to that universe of beauty and wonder that is always around us but too often unnoticed.

Rick Mansfield

That is, if we only let them.

This past week we ventured to what former teacher and outdoorsmen Swinney Rayfield referred to as a local treasure, rivaling anything western mountains had to offer. Perhaps quite true.

Rocky Falls in Shannon County is indeed spectacular; no less so with much of its stream frozen by our recent chill. Water running beneath the layer of ice; the babbling of the crystal liquid in those spots where it had broken through to the surface.

Boughs of evergreen set against a cobalt sky and chestnut-colored outcroppings of lava that cooled ages before much of the Rockies had emerged.

A panorama of nature with a free-flowing stream meandering through remnants of a hardwood forest. Pine and cedar providing accent by their diversity. Our Creator’s handiwork at its best.

Then the emotional element. Accompanied by my helpmate and wife of a quarter of a century, she leading our last pet, Dharma. All that remains of our little “puppy pack” that for nearly a decade entertained us by running rabbits on our small farm.

Now, in the “Golden Years of dog-hood,” she is content to sleep around the house and share the occasional brief adventure with her adopted parents.

And a new human couple. Jon and Linda, from Ava, whom had driven up just to see the falls. I first noticed them climbing the base of the falls, he carefully helping her secure each ascending foot and handhold.

They did not attempt the summit, but did reach a position where the frozen pool and exiting stream was easily visible as a whole. A view they enjoyed several moments together.

We visited after our mutual descent. They were husband and wife, as I’d speculated; and for sure first and foremost friends.

That is how they said their relationship had begun. It has been my experience that is how all good marriages begin. Friendship that directs such acts as the holding of a hand; the placement of a foot onto a solid niche of stone.

The glory of His creation. Evergreen and hardwood silhouetted against a crystalline creek; water silent at times and then bubbling forth with gurgling whispers as it emerged through unspoiled structures of ice.

Ghostlike memories of friends who had long ago called this area home; families gathered to swim and picnic at the popular hole.

An outing with the last of a group of animals that had brought us great enjoyment for years. Had shared our home and warmed our hearts.

The runt we’d brought home rather than leave on its own, who had somehow outlasted her three siblings.

A couple that exemplified what had made this country great. The type of friendship that looks to support and assist; the sort of union where the welfare of the other was tantamount.

A relationship founded on and recognizing the teachings of our Savior.

A world in a grain of sand. All that He is and all He wishes us to be in a brief visit to a small little part of our Ozarks.

Perhaps this summer we should all seek that “Heaven in a wildflower.”

(Rick Mansfield is a storyteller and writer, and is always looking for new audiences. He can be reached at emansfield2004@yahoo.com.)