Posts Tagged ‘box turtle’


Well, the season for grand political theatre is almost over.  I’m feeling like most of the country who are so tired of the divisiveness that has defined this overly long election. Certainly, a major disappointment is the lack of any real environmental dialogue or engagement from either of the parties.  Three national debates…and hardly a mention of climate change at all.  We were much more preoccupied by Hillary’s emails than we are the fact that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed a historic and negative 400 parts per million this year for the very first time ever!  We have no idea what this will ultimately mean.  We believe that this can’t be a good thing, but we are willing to take the chance?  Do facts matter and are we close to a point where it won’t make much of a difference what we think and feel?  Nature has her own schedule and we have been consistently wrong in guessing what time it is.


I find going out into Nature breathing deeply and keeping my eyes open helps a great deal. This is my restorative.   Walking parallel to the Ohio River and atop the Devonian limestone, my eyes register the circling Osprey looking for a good fish in the shallows.  The nearby purple loosestrife flowers are alive with insects of many species doing what is important right now which is attending to life.  Cooling its feet in a shallow spring, I come across one of the park’s box turtles.  I give it my full attention and love.  It’s life amazes me.  Once it was a leathery egg laid in a dirt hole.  When it hatched, a tiny, nearly exact replica of its parents emerged from the shell debris and soil.  Instinct led it to seek shelter and to react to that gnawing sensation in the pit of its stomach by eating something.  It’s alive and has its own reality deeply rooted in the history of life.


Living with the seasons, the turtle puts on a new growth ring for another year of life.  I have caught up to this one…decades after it left the egg.  I feel at peace and a feeling of well-being when I see Nature going about its daily and routine ways of life.  This is the way it has been before there was an us to proclaim ourselves to be the height and purpose of it all. One needs to go out into nature more to fully appreciate creation beyond the strictly abstract and intellectual.


Plastic flower blossom in the sand at the Falls of the Ohio, October 2016

Our ability to transform our world is so complete that we can use a material like crude oil to create plastic flowers!  But should we and why would we want to in the first place?  It is specifically the effects of using fossil, hydrocarbon-based energy sources that have led us to the situation we now find ourselves.  Collectively, we have let oil and coal become more important than clean air and water.  Here in Kentucky, the political campaigns are fueled by the so-called “war on coal”.  What most people miss, is that this has less to do with environmental regulations and more with market forces.  Coal is a dirty form of energy that has been supplanted by the use of natural gas which is much cheaper.  Ordinary citizens are not taking down the old coal-burning plants and replacing them with natural gas burning utilities…big business is.  Coal jobs started to really disappear when it was discovered that you could reach a lot of coal quicker and employ fewer miners with mountaintop removal. The fracking techniques used to obtain today’s boon in natural gas are also fraught with huge issues which are now coming to light.



We have the current and not fully resolved situation involving the Standing Rock Sioux people and an ill-advised and designed pipeline that the big corporate world have decided needs to go under the Missouri River.  Despite all our vaunted technologies, we lack the ability to make a pipeline that won’t eventually break releasing its poison into the waters.  What is so hard to understand about that?  I stand with the people who know that clean water is life. For awhile, it looked like the Ohio River was making progress, but in a way, the changes we are seeing in the climate have affected us here.  Currently, we have several large basin projects under construction in Louisville to deal with the reality that it rains more and a lot harder now which now overwhelms our sewers sending untreated waste directly into the river.  It will take billions of dollars and a lot of resolve to fix this, but I suspect, we will limp along trying to convince the people who make money the measure of everything to act sooner than later.


So, here I stand on the wrack line between land and liquid.  I will continue to come out here and record with my camera and pen, the anecdotal changes I see happening in the park.  I come out here to challenge my creativity, see what there is to see, and restore my spirit.  Ultimately, the quality of our water and the environment at large is a referendum on our collective spirit.  We certainly have been found wanting and another election cycle is going by without so much as an acknowledgement that there are big challenges to the very substrate that sustains us all.  I will try to curb my disappointment, by immersing myself in the moment.  So long for now…until next time from the Falls of the Ohio.img_3366




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This is a post from the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  The high waters from the recent flood have taken their sweet time abating.  I slogged through a lot of mud, but have to admit I had a good time exploring.  Along the way, I could see odd items that had been snagged by the trees and here they will stay until they decay or another flood carries them away.  Here’s a wooden stand of some kind that found refuge in the branches of this tree.

And here is part of a hurricane fence that the river deposited high and dry onto another tree.  Nearly every where I go I can find (mostly plastic bags of all sizes) stuff caught by the tree branches.  Sometimes this items “decorate” their new homes for years to come.

I’m always on the look out for signs of life.  On this trip I came across a flock of American Coots, but they swam away before I could take one decent image of them.  In the soft mud all around me, were the tracks of the various small animals that call this place home.  I believe these are tracks made by raccoons next to this plastic baby toy that floated in with the river.

Investigating the other debris, I nearly missed seeing this Eastern box turtle.  He looked like an old-timer and because it was still a cool day…he was moving slowly.  This allowed me to take several pictures and I had a great opportunity to check him out.  Here is a series of images of it.

The weird part is that earlier in the day, I came across a completely different kind of turtle.  This one is usually found in close proximity to sand and has a penchant for children’s company.  While the previous turtle embodied substance and image…this one is all image.

I also came across my “Mud Duck” which was hanging out in an area that was much drier than before.

This duck and all the genuine birds and small animals better look out this spring and summer because the feral cat population keeps increasing.  On my way back to my vehicle, I came by this site near the Interpretive Center.  Frankly, this “blew me away”.  There were two picnic tables and each one had the equivalent of a large bag of dry cat food spread under each table.  I’m sure this person has a kind heart and means well, but I don’t see how this helps the other wildlife in the park.  Well fed cats still catch birds and hopefully they will also catch the rats that I’m sure this scene also attracts.  I’ll end with these two images, but will be posting more post-flood pictures very soon.  Until then…

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western park scene, Falls of the Ohio, 8/09

For a change of pace, I decided to explore the park’s western section.  It’s a little more of a walk, but you will see more wildlife and less people.  I was priviledged to observe a pair of ospreys gliding in high circles on very long wings.  Usually, there is less Styrofoam to be found in the western end, but I was able to locate a couple pieces along with assorted sticks and plastic bits to make a figure.  This is what I came up with today.

Figure on Green Seat, 8/09

The green plastic seat more than likely came off a child’s riding toy and was the right size for the figure I constructed.  As I was working on this piece, I was treated to the sight of a beautifully marked Eastern box turtle that came walking out of the tall grass.  I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures!

Eastern box turtle, 8/09

head of box turtle, 8/09

I love the golden- yellow markings on its bony- shell and how it shows signs of wear and polish by moving through its environment over many years.  I carefully picked it up and the turtle’s head and front legs pulled within the shell while it’s trap door closed shut.  I set the turtle down and made my art work and slowly the turtle revealed its head, legs, and tail and sneaked back into the grass from where it came.  I heard that box turtles aren’t as common as they used to be.  And, that they prefer to stay in relatively small territories and don’t transplant to new areas very successfully.

Head of figure on green seat, 8/09

This sculpture is made from Styrofoam (polystyrene), driftwood sticks and roots, with various bits of found plastic.  There are several areas in the park that have gravel deposited from the last glacier of the Ice Age.  That’s the kind of rock that this figure’s ears are made from.  At this front row seat were several varieties of blooming plants that were animated with insect life.  Bumble bees and many species of butterflies were taking advantage of the nectar.  All along I have been photographing (when possible ) the different types of butterflies I come across.  Here is an image of the Comma with its well worn angle-wings.  This species is quite common here.

Comma, 8/09

Usually, the lower, hind wings are darker, but this individual has managed to lose a lot of it’s scales.  The edges of its wings are a little more raggedy than normal.  This species has a pugnacious quality to it and I have seen it chase its own kind, other butterflies, and once in awhile…birds!  It has a strong survival instinct…as do these two Monarch butterflies.  This is the image I will leave you with to end this post.  I watched this joined-pair still flying (rather poorly) feeding from flower to flower while mating.  Now that’s multi-tasking for you!

mating Monarch butterflies, 8/09

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