Posts Tagged ‘Honey locust’

As usual I’m a bit behind in my river reports.  I calculate I could write at least several more posts about the flooding we have experienced with the Ohio River at the Falls of the Ohio.  As I write, the river is still high, but all the attention has shifted to the Mississippi River which is experiencing an epic flood.  I’m sure some of the same water molecules that flowed past our location are contributing to the woes down along the Mississippi.  For those unfamiliar with our geography, the Ohio River flows directly into the Mississippi River in far western Kentucky.  The confluence of these two great rivers is an awesome sight.

Here at Louisville, the water has been receding and the amount of water-borne junk this flood has brought hasn’t fully hit home yet.  There are signs, however, everywhere I look that this will be a great challenge for any river loving clean-up crew.  I will try to do my part, but even if I were to try to be out here every waking hour…I wouldn’t  begin to scratch the surface.

Gas is over $4.15 cents a gallon for regular unleaded here.  I listened to the great oil company executives trying to explain to Congress today why they need a sweetheart deal from the American taxpayers when they already receive every tax break in the books and are suffering with their record, obscene profits.  When discussion turns to what can be done to reduce the amount of crude oil used the usual answer has something to do with increased engine efficiency resulting in more miles to the gallon.  Looking at the high water line I see another solution that doesn’t get as much play.  Why don’t we try to cut as much plastic out of our way of life as possible?  There would be more oil available for fuel and you wouldn’t have all these various compounds despoiling our water ways from the smallest streams to the largest ocean.  You can throw Styrofoam in this mix too since it is has petroleum pedigree as well.  We could just change the packaging we use and I bet that would make a huge difference.

You can look at the whole Riverblog as one long rant against pollution, but there is also more out here that is sweet and worth noting and enjoying.  I decided to walk along the Woodland Loop Trail and the air was fragrant with the perfume from what we call Honey Locust trees.  Some of these trees also sport large spines growing on the bark.  Their pea-like white flowers have the most wonderful scent.  Here is what a flower cluster looks like.

Along the trail, you can hear a variety of bird species singing.  Vireos, woodland warblers, orioles, chickadees, indigo buntings, various thrushes fill the air with their acoustic signatures.  The birds are here to feast on the many cutworms that plague the forest canopy.  There are also other larvae present…here is a small nest of tent caterpillars that will soon become moths.  Very few birds like these hairy caterpillars, but two that do ( the Yellow-billed cuckoo and the Blue and gray gnatcatcher) can be found in the forest now.

Ah, I also spot my namesake hopping along the trail!  This is a young Cottontail and he better be careful out here because there are so many predators both native and domesticated that would love to catch him!

Walking westward along the trail, you can’t help but notice the large grassy berm that flanks your right side.  It is additional flood control put in place after the disastrous 1937 flood which was our high water event on the Ohio River.  Up a head, I can see a network of large hoses with water gushing out and I decided to investigate.

I can see these large hoses coming down the berm and I wanted to see what’s on the other side of this earthen flood wall.  Here are a series of pictures of what I saw.  First looking up hill…

…now the view looking down towards the river.  What are these hoses for?

I came across a sign at the crest of this large hill that explains it.

On the other side of the berm is the small town of Clarksville, Indiana.  Rain water has pooled up in the lower lying sections of the city and are being pumped out and over the top where the water then flows into the park eventually finding release into the river.

It’s strange how I rarely think about the town that occupies the other side of this large grass and earthen mound.  The Ohio River is really at its front door all the time.  The little bit of woods I like spending time in is just a narrow sliver of ecosystem that exists between Clarksville and the river.

Well, that’s the story for now.  I have much more to present about the dominant environmental event of our Spring.  Already the temperatures are rising and I can feel the transition to Summer won’t be long in coming.  Thanks for hanging with me…until next time…the Rabbit Man.

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It doesn’t happen very often, but this was as close to a shut-out as I have experienced here at the Falls.  On this trip I didn’t make any sculptures and the resulting images weren’t as memorable.  Granted I didn’t give myself any time out here to speak of and there were other frustrations.  For one, I could barely get out of my neighborhood because of two simultaneous Derby festival events.  In a relatively tight area you could watch 15,000 runners go by or attend an arts and crafts fair.  Over the years the running thing is getting out of control and a different course needs to be constructed that goes around the city instead of paralyzing it.  You should have seen all the plastic bottles left by the side of the road and the hundreds that were discarded on the Second Street Bridge.  Many of these bottles were blown into the river by a steady wind.  Oh, and an hour after arriving at the park it rained really, really hard.  Sorry to be so down, especially when the sign above says “NO DUMPING”! 

I knew it would be a hassle with the festival activity and potential bad weather, but I went for it anyway.  It’s migratory bird season and I reasoned that if there was just one bird that I hadn’t seen before or if I made any other memorable sightings than it would be worth it!  At least the iris flowers looked nice by the Interpretive Center.

I decided to take the Woodland Trail that goes through a variety of habitats and see what was around.  I came across a small flock of White-throated Sparrows, but that was today’s avian highlight.  The sky was overcast and had that quality that makes everything seem backlit and tough to photograph.  I will say there was one thing happening that was absolutely delicious and a joy to partake in.

The lovely fragrance of honeysuckle vines and blooming honey locust trees hung in the humid air.  Their combined scents created a heavy, sweet perfume that it made it easier to appreciate the day for what it was.  On the walk back, I checked out the river and did find one interesting item.  It’s nature’s template cast off after use!  This is how oaks and tulips came to be.

I have been planning a drawing project and so this is a serendipitous find.  I definitely will put this template to work.  As I was walking along the river the little bit of mist became a monsoon.  There was a single huge flash of lightning and the resulting thunder could be heard bouncing around the valley.  I guess even Earth Day must take back seat to the Kentucky Derby Festival because the park moved their observance from the official day of April 22 to May 8! That’s one way to make any day, Earth Day!

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