Posts Tagged ‘sand drawing’

walking goose drawing in sand, March 2013

I come to the river because I like the sound of the water.  It does more than act upon the sand and driftwood here.  After hanging out at the Falls of the Ohio I feel relaxed because the rhythm of the water is also the rhythm of nature.  The waves that move back and forth slow my own internal sense of timing and puts me in sync with the universe.  The work-a-day life begins to lift away and a calm seeps in.  I don’t even need to be aware of the sound.  I know it is there and I trust it.  This restorative quality of water is not to be underestimated in this fast-paced, multitasking world and it is free if you are open to accepting its magic.

river erasing sand drawing, March 2013

partly erased sand drawing, March 2013

Spring is late in arriving this year.  It’s been an up and down cycle of mostly cool to cold temperatures.  Also, it seems that the river has been a little higher for a bit longer than I remember over the past several years.  2012 was positively balmy compared to this one.  It’s amazing how much difference a year can make .  Today is nice and the sun is shining and I get an early start on the day.

detail of driftwood, March 2013

Currently, there is plenty of driftwood lining the riverbank.  By studying how the driftwood was deposited, I get a sense for the water and how high it rose over the land.  Since this is Spring…I’m also on the lookout for seldom seen birds that are traveling through our area.  On my last outing, I was walking over the lines of driftwood when I spotted an unusual shorebird.  I managed a few images of it and I would like to share those with you now.  It was right in the middle of the driftwood and if it hadn’t moved…I might have gone in a different direction and missed it.  I live for these moments.

Great Lakes Oystercatcher, March 2013

head of Great Lakes Oystercatcher, March 2013

This is the increasingly rare Great Lakes Oystercatcher, (Haematopus polystyrenus) as seen at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  It has a large red bill like the two other oystercatcher species that live along our country’s marine coastlines.  Unlike them, this bird is strictly Midwestern and prefers fresh water wetlands, creeks, streams, and rivers.  The large bill is used to pry open the shells of fresh water clams and mollusks…although it is known to take crustaceans and other invertebrates upon opportunity.

Great Lakes Oystercatcher, March 2013

Great Lakes Oystercatcher, March 2013

The reason this bird is becoming scarce has everything to do with it losing its main food source.  The Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys are the world’s epicenter for fresh water mollusk diversity which is a little known fact.  Unfortunately, because of the many changes that have occurred with our rivers, these clams have become our most endangered animals with many species having become extinct already.  These clams are fascinating in their own right and have complex life cycles.  Wherever you find them is usually a good indicator of the quality of the water.  The Great Lakes Oystercatcher won’t find much in the way of its preferred food at the Falls.  The original clam diversity is missing and these days you are more likely to encounter Zebra Mussels or Asiatic Clams and both are well-established, invasive, nonnative species.

Great Lakes Oystercatcher, March 2013

Great Lakes Oystercatcher looking over its shoulder, March 2013

I was delighted by this almost comical bird which is rarely observed in this park.  It went about its business examining the driftwood and probing the sand for morsels of food.  I also watched it fly to the water’s edge and it was intent on checking out what the river was washing ashore.  The whole encounter lasted about 20 minutes before the bird flew off for parts unknown.  Satisfied with the day, I gathered my collecting bag and headed home.

The city of Louisville as seen from the Falls of the Ohio, March 2013

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The river is up and when it crests this weekend…it will be right under flood stage.  I’m fairly sure that this piece I call “Brass Eagle” (after the plastic sign on his head) is gone.  He was guarding my stash of Styrofoam in the Willow Habitat in the eastern section of the park.  This area of the Falls is usually the hardest hit by the rising waters, but when the river recedes…there will be riches in detritus, maybe.  The Ohio River has fooled me before.

In the angle formed by two large logs, I had stashed away materials for future art use.  I’m not averse to recycling my past projects.  As you can see, Brass Eagle is a bit of a head hunter.  Searching through the winter driftwood, I located a few noggins that formerly belonged to previous sculptures.  On rare occasions, I have even come across parts of works that I had made years a go.  Now, these foam chunks are either down river or scattered in different sections of the park where I might find them again.

At the moment, there are a number of friends and co-workers who have either recently had or are about to have babies and I drew this picture in the sand for them.  I like how this pregnant figure seems protected by the wood and the light on the water seems hopeful to me.  I did find an anonymous sand drawing that I thought was fun.  This squid reminds me of the sea monsters drawn on the old maps as a symbol of the unknown!

I recently came across the remains of a camp fire that caught my eye and camera.  Doing a little detective work, I’m guessing that this fire was started using some flammable substance as an accelerant.  If you look at the unburned edges of the wood, they are just so crisp and clean.  This fire amazingly stayed in place and didn’t burn all the wood available to it.

This weekend I will be visiting the Falls and seeing what’s new.  The park is always in a state of perpetual change which attracts me to it.  If the river is too high to work my familiar locations, then there is always birding!  For me, this signals the arrival of spring in the way that crocuses and daffodils do for gardeners.  I even have an individual bird that I look for!  For the last three years, what I believe is the same male, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has defended a particular Sweet Gum tree at the edge of the Interpretive Center’s parking lot.  I will be looking for him again.  For the moment, I have been enjoying the birds that stayed over the winter…like this Song Sparrow.

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A drawing can be as simple as a single mark made upon a surface or be as rich and complex as you care to make it.  Engraving a line in the sand with something as familiar as a stick must be among the most ancient of art forms.  At the Falls of the Ohio, one is never far away from a wooden stylus of any length.  The extensive sandy shoreline provides an ample surface to decorate, however, the beach doesn’t lend itself to fancy displays of draughtsmanship.  Keeping things simple seems to look best to me.  I also enjoy other people’s sand drawings which seems to have a connection to graffiti, but without all the potential for vandalism.  If you don’t like what you drew, rub it away, or wait for nature to erase it.  Around here, wind and water make short work of these ephemeral images.  Little harm is done.  Following are a few of my recent scratchings:

Here’s hoping we all have a peaceful and prosperous 2010.  Happy New Year from the Falls of the Ohio!

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