Posts Tagged ‘tree roots’

Because the work a day world had me preoccupied, it’s nice to be able to return to the river.  This interaction with the Falls occurred about a week a go, but it also takes me back to the early days of this project.  To stir the imagination I would challenge myself to only use materials found within the circle of a chosen tree.  The results were often incongruous, but it was fun to do.  The following polystyrene figure was made in a similar way where I allowed myself only materials available in a small area.

I found just enough Styrofoam for a head and body.  Splitting a nut in half became the solution for the eyes.  Bits and pieces of brightly colored plastic further called attention to the head.

The first heavy frost is near now.  The flowers have bloomed and the seeds are going on their own journey.  Migrating sandhill cranes have crossed overhead. I’m by this small “creek” that’s more of storm sewer overflow for the nearby village. 

There’s always water flowing …even when it’s not raining at all.  People like to fish here especially when the river is high and catfish are close to shore.  When we do get high water, this spot catches many of the logs that drift in here and become stranded.  I like to walk on top of this bridge when I’m crossing over from one section of the park to the other.

I moved the small figure I had made to the creek and snapped this portrait.  On the riverbank I can find recently chewed willow saplings and I know there is a beaver currently around.  Evidence of past beaver encounters mark some of the dead trees near the creek’s mouth.

Also in this vicinity are some of my favorite trees.  There are particular sycamore and willow trees that have exposed root systems.  These trees appear to be uprooting themselves and moving on which they do very slowly and deliberately!

The river has retreated from here for now.  This is also a favored place for fishermen.  The nearby fossil cliffs make a convenient place to cast a line or build a fire.  The underlying limestone sends currents flowing in multiple and treacherous directions.  The water here is usually well oxygenated and so it attracts fish.

I left this figure by the side of the path and walked to my vehicle.  This day began sunny but quickly turned overcast and gray as it wore on.  To close, here is another view of a tree with a great platform of roots showing by the nearby fossil cliffs.

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Sycamore in Fall, 10/09

The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is a large and familiar tree found primarily east of the Mississippi River.  Many people recognize it by its mottled bark revealing patches of brown and white color.  Usually sycamore trees are found close to water and that is the case at the Falls of the Ohio.  I have a favorite stand of these trees, but they are remarkable for reasons other than their size. 

Sycamores with open roots, 10/09

Sycamore trees, Falls of the Ohio, 10/09

I can remember when I first came across these trees, I had the feeling that they were trying to uproot themselves and walk away.  The exposed root systems in these specimens are elaborate.  I wonder if the riverbank was more extensive at some earlier point in the development of these trees and eroded away due to flooding?  Sycamores can be fast growing trees, but these examples don’t appear to be that old.

Sycamore roots, 10/09

Their roots snake across the riverbank nearly touching the water and are very picturesque.  I have used this location as a backdrop to photograph some of my sculptures.  I did this most recently for a work entitled “Audubon’s Apotheosis”.  Within the aggregate that makes up a sycamore’s seed ball is a small sphere that I have used for eyes in some of my figures.  I also like the yellow-green color of the leaves this time of year.  Here’s one last shot of a particularly “Ent-ish” tree, its dropped leaves swirling around its amazing roots.

Walking Sycamore tree, 10/09

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rising river, 5/09

rising river 5/09

It’s been raining upriver from us and so what happens in the northeast eventually flows down.  More rain is expected and so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the water completely cover the fixed wier dam that forms the park’s eastern boundry.  Massive piles of driftwood and debris are getting ready to flood the area under the Conrail Railroad Bridge.  Every time the river rises the landscape of the park gets rearranged and creates new novelties.  I was looking over recent images and found I had taken several shots of tree roots that speak not only of the power of water, but the tenacity of trees as well. 

black willow roots, 4/09

These are the roots from a black willow tree.  This is an amazingly tough tree that grows in the poorest soil (essentially clay mud and sand) and frequently gets completely submerged during a flood.

cottenwood roots, 5/09

The writhing roots from a cottonwood tree.  At the moment, fluff from these trees is drifting like dry snow through the air.

tree roots, 4/09

I believe this is a cottonwood tree as well.  I marvel at how the river will undermine a tree along the bank.  In places, canopies are created and you can sit underneath the roots of a tree which comes in handy when it rains or on very hot days. 

roots and frayed barge rope, 5/09

All these exposed roots are good catch-alls for whatever the river sends their way.  This tree has snagged a bit of frayed barge rope or cable.  Originally, these ropes are about as thick around as a man’s forearm.  The river has no problem dealing with them.  We will see how high the river gets.  I’m looking forward to making new works in this rearranged environment.

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