Posts Tagged ‘garter snake’

wildflowers, April 2013

Spring has definitely arrived and the land is turning green.  I love watching this verdant transformation as the Falls of the Ohio becomes a garden again.  We had a weary winter and so seeing the sun more regularly warms the heart and imagination.  These are images from my last visit to the park.  I believe I downloaded about seventy or eighty pictures which is about normal for one of my excursions.  I can find personal interest in most everything I come across which makes editing and creating some sort of post a fun challenge.  I spend hours on site and then a good amount of time at home looking at the pictures and wondering how to put order to any of it?  Usually, I try to give some representative sense of what the day was like.  I believe I could create all sorts of permutations and stories from just a single trip…but, that would cut into my time to be outdoors and fill my lungs with fresh air.

female mallard resting on one leg, April 2013

I began the morning in the western section of the park.  Driftwood and junk have been driven against the Indiana bank of the Ohio River.  Prevailing currents and high water have formed this log raft against the shoreline.  Future high water will eventually send this material over the dam and under the railroad bridge and then throughout the park.  Moving to the river’s edge I surprised more than one sleeping duck and see my first Great Egret of the year.  I tried sneaking over the driftwood to take a picture of the egret which was feeding at the water’s edge.  I must be losing my touch because the wary egret spotted me and took off.  This duck standing on one leg, however,  was more obliging.

view from the western section at the Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

Here’s a view from the western section of the park.  Walking along the water’s edge I came across all manner of bric-a-brac some of which made it into the collecting bag.  Upon returning to my outdoor studio, I photographed a few of my newest “treasures” on the sand which included many toys.  I have a compulsion to pick this stuff up and order it into various collections…but other than that I’m not sure what I will eventually do with much of this plastic.  I am a believer, however, that someday I will have an idea or inspiration and I will follow that.  I still feel there is something here to explore between the poles of what these items are intended to represent and what they are in reality.

a selection of found toys and novelties from the Falls, April 2013

I keep finding toy wheels of all different sizes and slowly an idea for a wall installation is taking place in my mind.  I have an offer to show work in a show during the 2014 season and so I set a goal to realize this “wheel piece”.  Here are two views of one of my more interesting finds of this day.

deceased blue crayfish found at the Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

dead blue crayfish found at the Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

Unfortunately, I didn’t find this blue crayfish while it was alive.  By far, most of the crayfish I have seen have been brown in color.  I wonder if it was crushed by the logs rolling in the high water?  I don’t know which species of crayfish this is, but apparently blue crayfish are a genetic color morph.  There is one species that is now bred to be blue for the aquarium pet trade.  The way the grains of sand fit around the exoskeleton gives a sense of how a fossil might be formed if given the right conditions and deep time.  I picked it up and held it in my hand and just appreciated such a small, but spectacular animal.  I was curious to see how the Flood Brothers from my previous post were holding up and soon I had my answer upon reaching my site.

my outdoor studio spot at the Falls, April 2013

The Flood Brothers were gone as were several other pieces of Styrofoam!  My small studio area had been rummaged through, but this is not unusual and I kind of expect this to happen.  The stuff I gravitate towards is not the junk other folks look for, however, anybody is welcomed to whatever I’ve cached here.  I have nothing of value here.  There is more.  Apparently, the discoverers of my studio were carrying bits of frayed barge cable when they stumbled over my spot.  In order to take the Flood Brothers with them, they had to drop the cables.  After straightening up my studio…I wrapped the three cables into loose coils and photographed them where the brothers once stood.

three coils of frayed barge cable, April 2013

From experience, if folks are out to destroy something…they usually just get on with it.  I was hoping that whomever took the Flood Brothers had just moved them to a different location to create a vignette of their own.  I decided to scout around to see if I could find my wayward figures and I was partly successful.  Here’s how I found the larger of the Flood Brothers.

Flood Brother #2 as I found him, April 2013

detail, head of Flood Brother #2, April 2013

About a hundred meters or so from my spot, I came across Flood Brother #2 leaning against this tree.  He was missing many of his features including his eyes and arms.  After hunting around I was able to find a few of his parts.  As for his shorter brother…there was no trace of him.  I kept moving east in my search and discovered evidence that other creatives were in the area recently.  Perhaps the people who made the following statements also played with my figures?

message in the sand, April 2013

I found this and other sand drawings in the area.  Most of the sand designs were statements of a libertarian frame of mind.  I also found this large spiral made from driftwood that was in the immediate vicinity.

large, anonymous driftwood spiral, April 2013

Further west from the spiral was this installation where driftwood was stood on end teepee-style and incorporated with two larger logs that had recently floated into the area.  People seem to like arranging wood in this manner and I have also seen bonfires begun in this way.

site specific wood installation at the Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

I thoroughly checked the area for signs of my missing figure and imagined him riding home in the back seat of someone’s car.  I picked up my remaining Flood Brother and headed back to my studio.  I fixed him back up again.  He’s repaired, but also slightly different now.

repaired Flood Brother #2, April 2013

spruced up studio site with repaired Flood Brother, April 2013

This is how I left things on my way back home.  I’ll return in a week and we shall see what if anything happens?  Returning to my car, there was still one more surprise left for the day.  Emerging into the light of a new season, I came across this small Eastern Garter Snake warming itself (much as I had) among the driftwood at the Falls of the Ohio.  See you next time!

Eastern Garter Snake, Falls of the Ohio, April 2013

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With Thunder over, my good friend Jeff accompanied me to the Falls the very next day.  He was on a mission to find wood for a home improvement project and the Falls has plenty of that.  On our way down to the river we passed a fisherman who warned us that there was a belligerent snake ahead of us that had tried to strike him!  Okay, we are forewarned, but not overly concerned.  Amazingly, we came across this snake.  It had not moved much since the morning was still cool and it was lying in the sun trying to get its metabolism going.  It’s a harmless Eastern Garter Snake and here are pictures of it.  This snake will try to bite, but it’s really very harmless.

This snake is often found near water, but can’t be classified as a water snake.  I did get a little closer and the snake did nothing.  Here’s a detail of its head.  This guy is about fifteen inches long.  I like its coppery-eyes.

Jeff and I had a good laugh over the fisherman’s over reaction!  At least to his credit, he didn’t try to kill this snake which happens far too much in this world.  Snakes do carry with them that element of surprise, but most of them are really beneficial.  Even if I had come across a poisonous species, I would just respect it and leave it alone.  I made another discovery and I guess I would have to classify this as a signed artwork?

It would have been easy to overlook this, but I turned my head in this direction and there it was.  Someone named “Hollie” took the time to sign and date this piece of wood near this old tire.  I felt this person was calling attention to the poetry in this space in a way similar to the work of Anne and Patrick Poirier.  It’s probably just me reading too much into the situation, but I did find this simple act compelling.

Jeff found the wood he was looking for and several potentially nice walking sticks too.  I found Styrofoam which I also used to make something, but will wait until next time to show you.  Jeff and I have been good friends since our undergraduate art school days at Murray State University.  Jeff is a talented artist in his own right and does drawing and ceramics.  He teaches art to middle school children.  During our hike at the Falls, Jeff was amazed by the number of cast off cigarette lighters he kept finding and started picking them up.  Here’s what he eventually did with them.

Jeff collected 23 lighters, but only lined up 20 for this photo.  He could have collected a sack full of these lighters if he wanted to.  Here’s the view from the other side showing my friend working on a walking stick.

After the pyrotechnics of the previous evening, this was as laid back and relaxing a day as could be.  We each left the Falls with as much river treasure as we wanted to carry.  I also had a camera full of images that I could use to post on this blog.  Eventually, the wind started to pick up and with the lighter piece in shambles, took that as our cue to go home.

On our way back to the parking lot, we passed by the wall that separates the Ohio River from this stretch of the Falls area.  With the City of Louisville in the background, I photographed these up rooted trees that were deposited here during the last high water incident.  They will stay there until the Ohio River decides to carry them away.

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