The sun is up and this is supposed to be the pick of the weekend. So, a quick breakfast and cup of coffee and I’m out the door as soon as I can manage it. I arrive at the Falls and there is still frost on the driftwood which vanishes except where the deep shadows shade the tiny ice crystals from the warmth of the light. The Ohio River is noticeably down and I find a way to access the narrow sliver of land that is now high and dry…well nearly. An occasional patch of sticky mud remains where a pool of water lingered longer than the rest of the river did.
I brought a large and empty collecting bag. I’m anticipating finding some river treasures to fill it… which I do by day’s end. As expected, the landscape is different, but the same. Meaning there is lots of driftwood in a wide variety of sizes with plenty of other junk mixed in. What is different is the exact context that had existed before is now rearranged. Big logs have floated to new positions and have been added to by wood originating upstream from Louisville and southern Indiana. I feel slightly guilty enjoying such a sunny day when I have friends on the east coast that are covered by the deep snow that fell yesterday.
During bouts of high water, stuff gets snagged in tree branches. I do a little promenade through this frayed rope archway formed by the river. It’s muddier under the railroad bridge, but the biggest tangle of catch-all driftwood is also here. My site is just over this wooden mound and I wonder how it has fared?
Along the way, I keep an eye out for birds like this female Downy Woodpecker investigating the furrows in tree bark. I see a Belted Kingfisher, a Red-winged Blackbird, flocks of Canada Geese which are year round residents, Carolina Chickadees, and a Peregrine Falcon flying parallel with the river. Usually, nature’s colors are subtle this time of year, but I also find this silly bird. It’s bright non-naturalistic color is a quick tip-off that it is probably made from plastic.
I find lots of other plastic items particularly toys, but I will wait until later in the week to post those finds. I did pick up this lucky duck to add to my expanding collection. I like the two walnuts next to the duck. How often have I used walnuts as a gauge for scale?
We are nearly there…just under the willow trees. Be careful of stepping on milled boards for they are the ones harboring bent and rusty nails. The sun has climbed higher in the sky and I’m getting warmer. This bear hat of mine is getting hotter, but I am glad I had it with me earlier in the day.
We have arrived…this is my old spot. I guess I was partly right. The river did reach my outdoor studio, but the water didn’t spread last year’s Styrofoam too widely. The riverbank is slightly higher here and that makes a difference. Walking carefully over the driftwood, I search over and under the wood. Before too long, I am able to corral my wayward polystyrene. I do a little “house keeping” and try to create a semblance of order under the willow trees.
I find not only much of last year’s Styrofoam, but some new pieces as well. I empty out my collecting bag and add to the pile. Interestingly, I did not find any really big sections and hopefully that bodes well for the river at large. Some of the pieces I have here I have recycled many times before to make new figures. I will try to embed these bright white shapes into my subconscious with the hope of creating new and interesting combinations with them. I’m going to leave it here for now. My next post will be a show and tell featuring some of the other items I picked up along the way and put into the old collecting bag. See you then?