Posts Tagged ‘waterfalls’


Today I heard the river calling on a spectacular day at the Falls of the Ohio.  Apparently, I was not the only one who heeded this call and the park is already full of people upon my arrival.  I checked out the fossil cliffs and quickly determined that there were too many people at this location for me and I moved on.  Ducking under the trees I moved into the shade, but before I did I stopped to hear an American goldfinch that had taken up residence on a willow branch right above my head. His perch is on the borderline of  sunshine and shadow and he was singing away in his timeless goldfinch way. In appreciation I took in every note as though his song was meant for me.

Under the protection of the forest’s canopy, I came across many other spring birds including a magnificent male Pileated Woodpecker hammering away at the soft wood of a decayed log in his pursuit of wood ants and beetle larvae.  I even came across a turtle…although it’s not the type you typically find out here.  It is, however, a reminder that this bottom land where I’m walking was recently flooded.  This turtle moved into this area with the rising river.  I have a small collection of sand molds and this is my fourth different turtle design I’ve found in the park…into the collecting bag it goes.

Another unusual sight was a plastic five gallon bucket that also floated in with the high water.  Checking it out, I tried to determine whether this bucket was half full or half empty with mud and whether or not this reflected on my general outlook on life?

Eventually, my walk brought me to the creek that marks the western limit of the park’s Woodland Loop Trail.  As I moved to this spot…I was also picking up the bits and pieces that form my latest Styrofoam figure.  I posed my latest creation in a location above the creek where it meanders into the Ohio River.

I like this place because it affords a good view of the Ohio River sweeping westward.  I also enjoy checking out the mud along the creek’s banks because animals leave their tracks here.  This time I could distinguish raccoon, squirrel, heron, and dog tracks.  Because the water running through this creek is also tied to the City of Clarksville’s sewer overflow system…during peak rain storms water comes rushing through the creek.  As a result of these torrents, large boulders and stones that were buried in the mud and soil come to the forefront and help create small cascades and waterfalls.

My little man did what I also like to do which is sitting by a waterfall and losing myself in the sound of running water.  This sound and effect are so peaceful to me that I wonder if it also affects my brain’s waves?  It’s easier to clear my mind with the sound of water as a backdrop and makes me lose my sense of time.  Today, the creek offers up several terraced waterfalls and my Styroman visited them all.  Here he is by waterfall #2.

This dramatic shot depends a lot on the angle which wasn’t as acute.  Now for a couple more views.

One frequent criticism of my project which I embrace is that it is overly romantic and sentimental.  Ironically, these are also qualities I find missing in much contemporary art which seems to rely upon one’s head more than the heart.  I try to involve both feeling centers in my work.  My brand of romanticism comes from trying to evoke some sense of the sublime and respect for nature through all the garbage and habitat destruction that marks our era because this ongoing planetary degradation ultimately affects our own and other species’ chances in the game of life.  Believe it or not.

This is the last waterfall my figure visited and is marked by crisscrossing logs that were deposited here during the last good flood.  I like the composition created by all this interlocking wood.  I hung out here until the light started to  slip below the horizon and I turned for home. My mind felt relaxed and open for nearly anything.  I think this is ultimately what brings me back to the river time after time.  I can forget my daily woes, politics, and the work a day world and for a few hours transport myself to a more real and peaceful place.  I hope all of you out there in the wider world have discovered places that do the same for you.

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The Falls of the Ohio was never a classic waterfall such as Niagara Falls or even Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.  It’s been described as a series of rapids that drop the river level about 26 feet over a length of about a two and a half miles.  This is the only place in the nearly thousand mile length of the river that posed a major navigation obstacle. Traditionally, the Ohio River hasn’t been a deep river, in fact in historic times the water level could get so low in the summer that you could literally wade your livestock over from one side to another with ease.  That’s why this area was also a bison trace and indigenous people crossed the river here for thousands of years.

Of course, having a river that can be this shallow poses an impediment to river traffic.  Louisville is where it is because when the river was low you had to either portage your boat, hire a special pilot to guide you around the rocks and waves, or wait until the river level rose again to move on.  When the river was high, the Falls could be heard.  John James Audubon once wrote, ” The rumbling sound of the Falls as they tumble over the rock-paved bed of the rapids is at all times soothing to the ear.”  All that changed when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam in the 1920’s.  The purpose of the dam is to provide a stable pool of water for the barge traffic going through the locks of this important intercoastal waterway.  It has meant billions of dollars in river goods can travel easily with coal being the most lucrative cargo.  That dam also defines what the Falls of the Ohio are now and in the heart of summer, the famous fossil beds are exposed for all to see.  Well, except for the majority of the fossil beds that are now regularly underwater on the opposite side of the dam! To say that this area is far from its original state is an understatement.  Most people don’t have knowledge of this and so this place is just as marvelous as ever!

“Oh honey, we made it!”  “The waterfall looks beautiful and I’m so glad we are here together to share this.”  The new couple on their own personal journey of discovery have decided to check out an American landmark.

“This is such a famous place and I will always remember this day because we spent it together!”  “I feel completely refreshed in the presence of you and nature.”  “The water spray is so cooling.”

Care is needed because you don’t want to get swept away.  The sound of running water can be hypnotic and you can lose yourself in it. ” I’m happy that you are here for me and I will be there for you too.”  Such is the promise that they made to each other standing by the waterfall.

“We have our entire futures ahead of us, but for now, let’s remember being happy in this moment.”  “The two of us are like this water in that we are on a long  journey and who knows if we will ever cross this spot again?”

“This has all been so beautiful, but I’m getting hungry.”  “Are you ready to go?”  “I’ve heard that there is another waterfall not too far away from here…wanna check it out later?”  Behind them, water was pouring through a special slot in the dam that allowed water to pass over these rocks and to provide a little more water for this bit of wetland that remains. When you are hiking out here and you think of it… it can be a little disconcerting knowing that the top of the river is now that high over your head!

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