April’s tale was of a high Ohio River and rain fall for the record books. Twice the river rose to flood stage before subsiding back into its muddy banks. Left in its now drying wake are trash mounds and islands of wood and debris that were pushed and floated upon the water’s surface by wind and current. In this mish mash of culture and nature I carefully pick my way over and through the debris fields at the Falls of the Ohio. All along the riverbank, the dull and muddy colored wood contrasts with the reflected light from hundreds of plastic bottles and chunks of bright white Styrofoam.
I picked a great day to visit the river. As soon as I arrived in the park, I could hear several newly arrived male Northern Orioles calling back and forth through the tall cottonwood trees. I even found several eggs. Here is a large blue plastic egg nestled in shredded tree bark and plastic bottles. I also found a muddy, but real Canada goose egg now too cool to incubate. There was an adult goose hanging out near me and I suspect some early nesters had their clutch washed away by the second flood. I decided with so much brightly colored plastic scattered all over this woody mound…I wondered if I could put any of it to use?
As you can see in this detail image…I decided to concentrate on the color yellow. I stayed within a certain area and collected all the yellow objects on this driftwood mound. It was tricky work because the footing was not good. Several times I sank to my hip as my leg would go through the loosely tangled branches, dirt, and logs.
I call this piece “Yellow Concentrate”. It consists of mostly plastic, quart-sized oil containers along with a few larger laundry detergent jugs. There are a few odd items as well. I found three rubber ducks on today’s adventure and used two of them here. I used a bowl-like depression in the driftwood as my setting to assemble and sort through the junk. I was glad to have the wooden platform in the foreground because it was also easy on the feet.
Now here’s the same piece with the skyline of the City of Louisville on the southern shore. All that massed yellow really pops you in the eye. Individually, all these yellow plastic containers barely registered scattered across the debris field, but it’s a different story when you bring them together. Feeling pretty good about yellow…I decided to next try a different color.
As I was collecting all the yellow containers…I was also sorting out the blue ones and throwing them in the driftwood bowl. On a nearby fallen, diagonally leaning tree trunk…I arranged my collection. The big blue Easter egg is near the center. As I worked on “Blue Extract”, the hole I was standing in kept getting wider and deeper.
Most of these containers are plastic oil and liquid detergent bottles, but I mixed a few aerosol cans in as well. In this line are seven plastic and rubber balls. One last project before calling it a day. I stayed in the same area and pulled aside all the lost flip-flops I encountered. I laid them all out on the white surface of a metal refrigerator that had floated in here with the last flood. It looked like the Shoe Shaman had been this way too.
The stark whiteness of the fallen refrigerator reminded me of the white pedestals that you would find in an official gallery. I organized the lost foot wear from smallest to largest, left to right. I soon left for home with a hefty collecting bag full of “river treasure” and a camera loaded with images. Every thing else was left in place. I will come back when the river level drops a little bit more and the fudge-like mud has had the chance to harden in the sun. There is still so much more to explore in the park and can see myself keeping busy for the rest of the year. Here’s one last look over the shoulder at today’s location at the Falls of the Ohio. I realized after the fact, that the found milk crate I used to move materials around was so bright red that it holds its place among the yellow and blue. Until next time!