It’s Thunder Over Louisville weekend which means the largest fireworks extravaganza in North America will happen tonight. This is the kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival which culminates in the horse race itself on the first Saturday in May. The festival is a two-week event and while fun for residents and visitors…can also be an obstacle course if you are trying to get around town. I like using the bridge on 2nd Street to get to the Falls of the Ohio State Park, but it is shut down and being used for the fireworks display. At its height, Thunder Over Louisville (which also includes an air show) has drawn 800,000 people to the banks of the Ohio River on a single day. I’m hoping to access the river and the park tomorrow. For the moment, I have images to post from my last visit. Looking through the pictures, it occurred to me that I had captured moments in the lives of individual trees that I would like to share. The area continues to green up and many trees are producing their pollen. For allergy sufferers, this is an especially difficult time. If I was affected by seasonal allergies…I doubt I could do this project. There is something about being in the bottom of the Ohio Valley that seems to bring out the worst for those allergic to various molds and pollen.
I started this adventure on the Woodland Loop Trial near the Interpretive Center. The path eventually leads to a small creek that at the moment has a tremendous amount of driftwood lining the contours of its banks. All this wood was deposited here by the Ohio River swollen from winter rain and snow melt all along the length and breath of the river valley. More high water could eventually carry all this wood back out into the river for parts unknown. Still, this represents a lot of trees. I have this idea in my head that as a result of climate change, we have all this extra water and energy in our weather systems? Where does the water from retreating glaciers and Arctic melting go? I’m guessing that some of it is evaporated out of the oceans and into a warming atmosphere where it influences the global weather patterns? This excess water eventually precipitates out causing more severe weather events including flooding. This increases riverbank erosion and tree loss. Is there a limit on how much water the atmosphere can absorb? Of course development along the rivers takes its share of trees too. The cumulative effect of many actions continues to shape the environment.
These exposed tree roots are something that I’m noticing more of at the Falls of the Ohio. I’m assuming that frequent high water causes this? This isn’t necessarily fatal and these trees can survive as long as the riverbank stays in place. In addition to more water…an increase in storm related wind velocity has also been noticeable over the years. We have had a lot of trees simply blow over and be lost in this manner. Continuing to walk westward in the park, I can see that my favorite cottonwood tree continues to be developed as a party hang-out.
I posted on this wonderful cottonwood tree not too long a go and remarked on how it was once again becoming a focal point for parties. The fire pits are larger and there are more beer bottles and cans around this tree than before. I’ll bet this place is especially magical illuminated by camp fires. Plus, more found wood has been used to hide a large silvery sheet of corrugated plastic to impart a more naturalistic appearance. From inside and under the tree, you can see in the distance part of the downtown skyline of Louisville which will be filled with fireworks tonight. Over the years, this tree has been discovered by different generations of folks and continues to hang in there. I hope this will always be the case. The next big flood will eventually wash all the additions away as it has done before.
Here’s an image that demonstrates how high the river can rise. This snagged pallet has been hanging out on this tree branch for a couple of years now. Trees can demonstrate some resilience in the face of adversity. I know of a couple of trees at the Falls that have made use of improvised “planters”.
Cast off tires are a ubiquitous element of river-born trash. Somehow this willow tree has found a sheltering toehold in this wheel. I’m curious to learn whether this tree can continue to grow and survive in what is ultimately a restrictive space? On this walk, I also came across this unusual juxtaposition and thought it might fit in this post too.
This may be as near as I come to having a tree suggest that it could do laundry too! The surface root of an old willow tree has caught this old jacket. The last high water floated this plastic laundry basket into this area and it settled next to the root. This is not your average still life. The gravel in the photo was deposited here by the last of the retreating ice age glaciers.
To conclude this post…as I was walking along the loop side of the trail, I spotted a piece of Styrofoam in a ditch. Retrieving it I discovered one of my previous sculptures from several months a go. I originally included him in a story that featured sauger fishermen. Except for a missing nose, the sculpture was complete. I was surprised that it survived intact going on several months now. Looking through my collecting bag…I replaced the lost nose with another piece of found plastic and set him up to greet visitors along the trail. Here’s a final picture showing him next to a tree that the wind blew down last year. Thanks for hanging out with me for the past thousand words. Have a great weekend!