The slightest hint of yellow is tinting the willow leaves at the Falls of the Ohio. Picking my way through the driftwood, my legs brush against the occasional clump of ripening Cocklebur. This time the bur’s tiny hooks stay fast on the parent plant, but in a few weeks my shoes’ laces will collect all they touch.
As far as birds go, I’m in luck today. Small groups of mixed warbler species are passing by the Falls on their way south. I saw Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts, and Black-and-white Warblers moving through the willows. I watched the Black-and-white Warbler pictured above harvesting drab-colored moths from the fissures in the tree bark. It seemed that everything happened at once. The warblers would appear along with Eastern Wood-Peewees, Blue Jays, and a Northern Flicker made the scene. There would be a brief flurry of activity and then the birds would be gone. Is there security in the numbers or does the sound and motion confuse the small insects they flush out? If allowed, I could spend all my time just trying to figure that out. Here’s a picture of the flicker with his yellow tail.
I’ve walked these same driftwood piles for months, but I still find river-polished Styrofoam and odd bits of plastic that I can use for my sculptures. I have removed a lot of artificial junk from this place and made art out of most of this stuff. As far as sculptural processes go, I use both additive and subtracted methods. The additive parts are apparent in the sticks and such I attach to the polystyrene chunks. The subtractive part is less obvious and is represented in my mind by the unwanted materials that I remove from the natural beauty of the park. I rarely do any other carving to the foam chunks themselves. This needs to be something anyone can do and not be some brilliant example of technical hand skill if I want others to try.
Here’s what I came up with on this early autumn day along the Ohio River. I call it the Alien Ballet and I amused myself by making it and the digital images that resulted from the experience! Recently, I read that the estimated number of potential planets that could harbor life just increased greatly because our ability to see into the universe’s deep places keeps getting better. This is also based on life as we know it and needing just the right conditions (water, distance from the right type of star, etc…) in other words, other Earth-like planets. It is interesting to speculate that in the vastness of creation, those conditions that result in life may not be as rare as we currently think.
My aliens have traveled from that other dimension that is my imagination. They are revelling in their individuality and dancing together with the light and shadow on the edge of three different states of matter.
There is value in being in the present moment, right here and now. Despite the chance of there being other similar worlds in the cosmos, I can’t imagine they would be as conducive to life as we live it than right here on Earth. We need to celebrate this place while we can.