It was Leap Day, February 29 when I went back out to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. For the third consecutive week the Ohio River has been high and all my usual spots are underwater. This post is being written a week later and the river is still covering most of my spots along the riverbank. For the past month, I have been active mainly in the western section of the park.
In the western area of the Falls, the riverbank rises to greet a sliver of woods. Standing on the top most level along the bank, this latest high water we are experiencing is about 8 to 12 feet below your feet, but in most places the river directly butts up to the bank and so there are few “beaches” to stand on and explore. It is during these moments that you can most directly see and feel how a high river can upset and erode the riverbank. I imagine that over time, the river will keep getting wider as the trees are undermined by the waters. As I was searching for new sites and materials to work with…I decided to walk a bit more in the woods than I usually do. Right now is a good time to do this before the vines and mosquitoes make it more difficult and unpleasant.
As I was walking along the muddy paths I couldn’t help noticing how heavy the deer traffic was in this area. Their tracks were everywhere and almost on cue, I came across five antler-less whitetail deer that were moving away from me near the tree line. I liked this little area mostly because I came across small stands of bamboo-like river cane. The old timers say that river cane used to be more plentiful and once helped to define the area more than it does now. Walking along, I saw something white laying on its side and it turned out to be a deer skull from a small doe. In the early days of my Artist at Exit 0 project, it was uncommon to come across deer tracks and years passed before I actually saw one out here. All that has changed now. This is the third deer skull I have found in the park in the last two years. Their presence throughout the Falls of the Ohio has visibly increased which is probably not a good thing for such a small park as this one.
I decided to leave the skull behind for someone else to discover. Finding a suitable tree along the path, I mounted the skull on the knobby remains of a branch to mark this area as being particularly deer favored. It was just a short hike from here to reach the river’s high edge again.
Eventually, I did find a hundred yard or so stretch of muddy bank that I could access and walk around. It was located in a sheltered area where this was a slight bend in the river. The prevailing currents and wind had pushed a large amount of debris against the bank and most of it consisted of wood and bark bits with the now expected plastic garbage mixed in for good measure. I immediately began to find “stuff” and here are a few pictures of my “prized” finds.
Here is something for my Fake Food Collection…a small, plastic drumstick. Over the years, I have found a few of this exact plastic poultry leg and so this is not exactly a unique find. Note the teeth marks probably from the family dog?
Although the spring peepers are starting to be heard in our area…this one will never make a sound.
I now have an impressive collection of found toy hammers and mallets and they are all made of plastic. I need to take a photo of that collection and post it which is another in a line of weirdly specific things I have found out here.
Here are two more “Smiley Faces” that are the latest ones I have found out here. The larger is a volleyball and I’m not sure what the smaller one was intended for? I haven’t looked at it again since I dropped it into the old collecting bag. As I was exploring, what I couldn’t help but notice along this particular stretch of riverbank was how common toy balls of all sizes and sports that I was finding. I decided to pick up all the ones I could access and make a collection of them all. Here is that image.
So, what is your sport? In this motley collection of forty plus river-found balls we have American footballs, soccer balls, basketballs (of course since this is major basketball country), golf balls, tennis balls, playground balls, Styrofoam balls, softballs, a plastic bowling ball, a volleyball, several ball pit balls, and couple of novelty balls, etc… Of course, balls are the perfect floating object since they are round and roll easily and since they are usually inflated with air they are buoyant as well. As the day was starting to get late and I had found all the balls in the area that I could reach…it was time to start for home. I’m looking forward to the river dropping down and the temperatures to begin to rise. Soon the spring bird migration will be passing through and I’m hopeful of seeing a few Rose-breasted grosbeaks and maybe a Scarlet Tanager or two. One more image of my made on the spot ball collection looking back on an interesting day at the Falls of the Ohio.