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Posts Tagged ‘cycles’

Frequent visitors to the old Riverblog may have noticed my penchant for posting images of wheels and tires that I find at the Falls of the Ohio.  Far too many automotive tires find their way into the river and many of them wash up here where they comprise omnipresent elements on the shoreline.  In addition to being more physical junk…they have also insinuated themselves into my imagination much as Styrofoam has.

When I see a wheel…I see an abstract portrait of our kind.  Through the cleverness of our minds we have invented such a simple device for first harnessing the power of nature to eventually “mastering” it.  It doesn’t surprise me to read that many experts consider the wheel to be our most important mechanical invention.  If you dispute this think beyond the ox cart and potter’s wheels…try imagining our world without gears, cogs, time pieces, jet engines, and the hard drive of your computer and more.

From what I’ve been able to find out, the wheel has been around for about five thousand years.  The oldest depictions come from Mesopotamia, but other cultures seem to have “simultaneously” invented the wheel too.  A lot depended upon domesticating draft animals to provide the power necessary to move a load.  In the New World…the ancient Olmecs knew of the wheel and used it on pull toys, but since they lacked draft animals their use of this invention was limited.  In more recent times, Industrialization and the harnessing of other energy sources has greatly and forever expanded the role that wheels play in our lives.  We have come a long way since the Neolithic.

Apart from objects, wheels also have other rich associations.  In many cultural contexts…wheels are also potent spiritual metaphors.  The Yin and Yang symbol can be thought of as a wheel.  The flag of India features a wheel which represents Dharma or the law.

The cyclical nature of things has me thinking about the changing of the seasons.  Spring is giving way to summer and it looks like our Memorial Day weekend is shaping up to be a beastly hot one.  Time is flying by.  Although I’m not a fan of auto racing, the annual tradition of the Indianapolis 500 is also set for this weekend.  I couldn’t help noticing that one of the symbols associated with this race track is a tire with wings!

When I go to the river, I bring a canvas collecting bag to store my finds.  I have more than one bag which I usually store on the front porch of my house to await later sorting.  As I have mentioned before…I have a very patient wife who with usual good humor, puts up with my obsessions!  It is this cycle of sorting through the junk that is the inspiration for this post and I had three full bags that had among other objects, toy wheels that have caught my eye.  I knew I had been picking them up of late, but hadn’t realized the collection I had formed until I laid them out.  With the exception of the odd skateboard wheel…my collection comes from toy trucks and vehicles where the heaviest load they have borne has come from the imaginations of children.  I like how they look visually and apart from that…I’m not sure what I will eventually do with them all!  Perhaps I will make some other metaphorical vehicle some day?

 

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The fishing had been good and attracted both experienced and novice fisherman.  People were catching some of the smaller striped bass and the occasional catfish.  Summer has descended full-bore with its twins…heat and humidity and so a visit to the river is a welcome diversion for many.  The parking lots around the park are full.  To me, this is a mixed blessing.  You want those who can appreciate nature and the surrounding area to enjoy themselves, however, there is always that element present that can’t resist despoiling for their own selfish reasons.  Sometimes it seems that visitors leave as much trash here as the river does in its wildest moods.  Please pack your garbage out.  After checking out the fishermen, I head up the bank to locate my last project with its polystyrene figure.

I’m not shocked at all to come across Joe Coalman’s eyeless skull resting in the hot sand.  To be honest, I would be more amazed to find him still intact.  My postmortem revealed that he had the stuffing knocked out of him.  I found his body about thirty yards from his head.  I take some photographs and gather the remains.  I’ll probably recycle him into another project in the future.  As for the tire with the coal in it…

…well, it too has been altered.  I can see how a standing Styrofoam figure would make a tempting target, but what about a tire filled with coal?  It must have provoked someone because the coal had been knocked out.  The black rocks were scattered all around.  I regathered them, but I could not find all the coal that was originally in the tire.  Curiously, if you look at the rim of the tire you will see something I had not originally placed there.  It’s a tiny white clam shell left perhaps by another visitor?  I appreciated this simple gesture and moved on.  Soon I reached my outdoor atelier with its latest cache of Styrofoam.  I laid Joe Coalman, skull and all back into the pile and wondered what to do next?

While sitting on the enormous wooden beam that defines one side of my outdoor studio, I spied something interesting on an equally impressive log.  Growing along the margins of an old bird dropping was this wonderful fungus.  At the Falls of the Ohio, there are many different types of fungi that help break down the organic bonanza that washes into here.  I wish I knew more about them, but realize that this is another entire field of study.  Nevertheless, fungi are of immense importance and help recycle nutrients among the many other useful services they perform.  With this particular fungus, it looked like it was on the downward cycle having already released its spores from the fruiting bodies that were now arranged like some organic version of Stonehenge.  After studying this curiosity for a few minutes, I settled into the familiar activity of creating a figure that would be the benchmark for the day.  Before revealing it to you…here are a couple of other things that I want to show you that I happened across during my walk.

I’m always looking at the evidence and trying to figure out what occurred at a particular place?  Here a fisherman on his way back to the rest of his life has dumped out his bait bucket and left the four tiny bluegills in the sand.  Perhaps they were dead already since fish in a bucket die of oxygen loss without an aerator to cycle air back into the water?  I wondered if the use of these bluegills broke any laws since using other sport fish for bait is generally frowned upon?  I could imagine the size of the bucket from the wet area in the sand.  The silver circular object is the bottom of an aluminum can.  Near this scene, I also came across this discovery.

Less than a stone’s throw from the dead fish I found this arrangement in the sand.  I love it when people opt to leave their mark on the land in this fashion.  Present were two complete circles in the sand defined by upright sticks with mounded sand in their centers.  In my mind, I imagined two gears or cogs moving in response to each other.  The movement of the sun provided some of the energy needed to activate this metaphorical machine.  I decided that this place was a good site to unveil my latest figure which implies movement too.  I let it dance throughout this arrangement in the sand.

Maybe this was originally made by a child while his family fished?  It doesn’t matter because it gave me something positive to react with and made my day.  Feeling satisfied, I started back to my own vehicle, but there would be one more surprise on this day.  Perhaps this was also made by the same folks who did the circles in the sand?  Again, sticks were employed albeit much longer in length.  See for yourselves.

Logs and long branches were leaned against a willow tree and the effect implied shelter to me.  Other long sticks were placed upright into the sand and helped define the area.  A wooden palette was dragged to this location and left to provide seating.  Because the materials used are all local, it would be very easy to walk by this if you weren’t paying attention.  That’s one of the things my Styrofoam figures have working against them…their stark whiteness usually gives them away even at some distance.  But then again, for me that’s part of what I do which is to call attention to the stuff that doesn’t belong out here and through a little creativity, show what can be done.  I appreciate the stick pieces because they only use the natural materials that are out here.  I wish I could do this more often myself, but this isn’t the reality I usually discover out here.  Leaving the area, I came by this wonderful flower and in its center…was this tiny bee carrying on as her kind has for as long as there have been flowers in need of pollination.  Until next time.

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