Spring has officially succeeded Winter at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. The river is high. Its waters increased by the thawing in the northern Ohio River Valley. The river crested yesterday just below flood stage. All my familiar spots are under a few feet of water now. My record here is being rearranged. It is amazing, however, how quickly the water recedes. Spring is renewing this place in an especially physical way.
Lots of logs missing limbs roll and churn in the shallows by the river’s edge. Once in a while you can hear a loud crack as something wooden is shattered in the water. The trees roll over one another grinding their bark off which forms large floating mats that collect debris. The corky squeak of wood grating against wood can sound like the grinding of teeth.
In places you could easily see the ever shifting currents by the objects floating on the surface of the water. I walked along the park’s western shoreline. The sound of three dueling kingfishers played out in an aerial display above my heads. Although it still early…I’m always keeping my eyes out for migratory birds. I was able to add a new species to my park bird list…the Bufflehead duck. I came across a male with four females resting with their bills tucked into their back feathers. They seemed to be just floating along with the available current at the limits of my camera’s telephoto lens. I came back the next day to see if they were still around but they were gone. I would have liked some better photos.
As I walked along I noted the mats of rafting wood. You could see where a mat would drift against a tree and create an island. I could spot the bright white of Styrofoam chunks like polystyrene passengers. If I run into them again…I’ll turn them into sculptures.
When these mats are pushed onto the shore, this image shows a good example of the material aggregate that composes them. It’s mostly wood chips, but you can see a lot of plastic and Styrofoam pieces too. I have more than a hand full of those plastic cowboys and soldiers that I have found out here over the years.
I walked by one of my favorite trees. I love its exposed, developed root system and wanted to see it covered by water. Usually, I can rest in the open, small room the roots create under the trunk of the tree…but not today. It have used this place to get out of the hot sun or driving rain many times before.
I kept walking until I reached private property. I small creek with dirty river backwash demarcated a border. Unfortunately, whatever is in the river is also now in the creek. On the opposite side from me is a pasture with three horses and a goat. This is a new background for me and I decided to improvise a figure from found materials and record a few images.
I quickly find enough junk to construct a figure. Walking along this soupy creek I pick up fishing bobbers, foam, plastic, and wood. Here’s the piece in progress. I never did use that plastic dauber looking thing. This is an especially sad photo for me because I lost my knife within minutes of this image. I don’t know what happened. I either dropped it or left it sticking in a log somewhere, but when I returned to look for it the following day, it was not to be found. Jim Gottuso gave me this knife years a go. It only has two blades, but the small, sharp saw was perfect for driftwood.
These pictures hardly seem like a fair trade, but at this point I will take what comes next. Sometimes the river requires a sacrifice. I’m also thinking that I may see it again. I might see it in a day-dream and its exact location will be revealed to me. Since Kentucky is hosting the World Equestrian Games this year…this will be a good way for me to work a horse picture into the blog. I’ve heard that we are expecting more than a half a million horse lovers to come to the Bluegrass.
I moved this piece around the edges of the property and finally left it standing next to a tree on this side of the riverbank. Here are a couple more shots of this piece. The red object being held came from a large fireworks rocket. When the sun is shining, the small bicycle pedal reflector makes a nice belt buckle.
I made another piece and have lots of other images from this weekend at the river that I will share over the next few days. It was a long, grey winter and I’m glad that it has passed. Here’s another image of the flower beds by the Interpretive Center, but taken on my way home at the end of the day.
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