Jeff and I have been great friends for over thirty years now. It’s a strange feeling when you realize that much time has flown by. We met at Murray State University in far western Kentucky and attended art school together and have kept in touch ever since. Now we both live with our families in Louisville. I’m proud to say that we still self identify as being artists. This has not been an easy thing to do. I’ve read that most people who attend art school eventually stop thinking of themselves as artists once the work-a-day world takes its toll after graduation. Jeff and I have been lucky and can say that most of our professional lives have not strayed too far from art making or being in the art world. We have never shaken our need to make ideas and materials connect. These days, Jeff enjoys making some very involved and often witty ceramic sculptures and through this blog you know something about me. This is not the first time Jeff has accompanied me on one of my “epic adventures” to the Falls of the Ohio and I always enjoy his company and conversation. Today is a beautiful late September day and we are hiking in the western section of the park and enjoying the sunshine.
This is a less traveled path, but often worthwhile. Today there are many late summer/early fall wildflowers to see. We stopped by one of my favorite trees in the park. It’s an old cottonwood tree whose roots have continued to grow with the tree even while the riverbank has eroded and exposed these roots to the elements. This has not kept this tree from thriving. Over time, a space beneath the tree large enough for a person to stand has been created. This image of Jeff under the tree will give you a better idea of what I mean. I have used this space on many occasions to wait out rain showers or take a break from my walks.
Over the past two years this tree has attracted a lot of attention and unfortunately for any other visitors…you can see evidence of their “footprints” all around this cottonwood. There is more litter around and several fire pits contain partially burned trash. The tree trunk itself has become a target for graffiti as people with pen knives and spray cans have left their marks.
The sun was shining full-bore and warmed the day up nicely. While I spotted some birds I wanted to check out…Jeff decided to hang out by the tree and take a nap.
When I returned from bird watching, Jeff was waiting for me and recalled an odd fragment from a dream he just had. Even in his resting state he felt as though something was checking him out. First he heard the sound of movement in the dried leaves and then caught sight of an odd small figure in brown with long ears skulking about the shadows.
Jeff remembers trying to wake himself up, but the dream continued. The small brown figure then called out and was soon joined by a second figure that was larger and all in white.
This newest figure was even more bizarre than the first and more frightening for sure. It sported a large misshapen head, wild eyes, and a mouth trimmed in blue. Within his dream, Jeff heard a narrator saying that these figures were called “tree spirits” and all trees have them. These characters may have been up to no good. It’s hard to say, but fortunately they are easily frightened away. Jeff thinks they may have belonged to the cottonwood tree and were paying a visit in case we were thinking of doing some damage to this beloved tree. There were two spirits because there were two of us. Anyway, Jeff doesn’t know how or if it all played out because he woke up.
It had already been a full day and we decided to head for home. Although Jeff was partially refreshed from his nap, I was beginning to feel tired. The car was about an hour’s walk away and we still needed to cross over the small creek that divides the western section of the park from the Woodland Loop Trail. We gingerly walked over the logs left over from the last flood balancing ourselves with our walking sticks. We were in no hurry here.
It was great having another adventure with an old friend! I’m sure that we will do this again. Jeff found an extra walking stick to take home and that became his souvenir of the day. For me, I walked out of the park with my images and this story I’m about to post. Thanks for stopping by…until next time from the Falls of the Ohio!