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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

9-9-9: Vol 9 No 9c, Monday September 9, 2013

http://mailman.305spin.com/users/island63/images/paw paw.jpg

Andy Moore in the Paw Paw Patch (photo by Mark River)

Way down yonder

in the Paw-Paw Patch

One of my happiest childhood memories is sitting on the piano bench with two or three of my siblings as my mother stomped out another colorful rendition of one of our favorite songs:

“Oh, where-o-where is my dear little Weedy?

Where-o-where is my dear little Weedy?

Where-o-where is my dear little Weedy?

Way down yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch!

Picking up Paw-Paws, put ‘em in his pocket

Picking up Paw-Paws, put ‘em in his pocket

Picking up Paw-Paws, put ‘em in his pocket

Way down yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch...”

Sometimes all eight of us would gather around the piano when she played, and sometimes it was just us younger kids. She called me “Weedy-Boy” back then, I guess because I was in the backyard so much hiding in the weeds. She would name each one of us kids, one by one, starting with the youngest, Marsie-dotes, and working her way up through Chrisser, and then me. As you can imagine this would go on quite a while to name all eight of my brothers & sisters! But I didn’t have to wait long, I was third youngest. What a thrill it was when she finally got to my name in the song! My heart would fill with joy as I imagined getting lost and filling my pockets with this magic fruit. Later as I grew up the paw-paw became a mythological object dancing throughout my psyche. Maybe it was a holy grail of sorts? For years and years I didn’t know what it was or what it looked like. But the name had a musical ring that intrigued the imagination, and seemed to exist at the edge of a pathway that eventually led me down another enchanting childhood fascination. I’ve always loved maps. And one of the things that brought me southeast out of the Rocky Mountains was the recurring image of the looping blue line drawn on US maps to signify the meandering Mississippi River. I used to spend hours and hours tracing that line and wondering what it was like and what it would feel like swirling around one of those curvy bends of water...

Recently the paw-paw re-surfaced here at Quapaw Canoe and inspired a new journey along the muddy looping waters of the giant meandering river that we call home. This time brought to life by the impassioned zeal of paw-paw missionary Andrew Moore and an expedition with Mighty Quapaw guide Mark River. Keep reading below for the rest of the story. Then go out and find a paw-paw to try one for yourself. You'll have to go "get lost" in the woods. They're not available anywhere else. And this is the time of year that they ripen! Also, see below posting for an exciting job opening in Clarksdale (writer needed for the Clarksdale Press Register) and the latest update from the New Madrid project, amongst other pieces of news and noteworthy river-related items including W.O.W. “Who Owns Water” and a Korean Bride who marries the Mississippi River. As captain of the ship I was endowed with the special honor of officiating this marriage which was consummated at Montezuma Landing Sandbar. And as always, wherever your are, and wherever the journey of life is taking you, we send our Mighty Quapaw blessing with the words, “May the River be with You!”

Mark River Blog:

River Gator Chronicles:

Quapaw Landing to DeSoto Lake

The search for the Paw Paw

The great thing about being a river guide is the opportunity to be a part of both recreational trips and exploratory expeditions. Expeditions that take you on a journey to find the information (or inspiration) that's essential for the creation of art or the findings of science.

Paw Paw trees are temperate fruit trees that grow in thick deciduous forests along rivers in Eastern North America. The fruit, like the persimmon tree, doesn't mature until around the first frost, when they fall to the earth and sweeten. It usually grows in thick hardwood forest on bluffs by the river. They need the shade of the big trees to thrive. They are rumored to have been staple for the Native Americans and are a fruit a largely forgotten in today’s society.

We meet in the Cave: Driftwood Johnny, Andy, and myself. For some reason the night before I had started to pack my dry bag anticipating I would be going on the River. I see a strange fruit on the table sliced and ready to eat. Andy introduced himself and asked, "Wanna try?"

"Sure." Not wanting to be rude to our guest.

Driftwood chimes in, "You ready to go on a expedition?"

I reply, "Already packed."

Driftwood states: “born ready!”

I continue, "that taste good, a cross between a mango and a papaya."

Andy agrees and we discuss the logistics of our trip and the goal to find the Paw Paw tree. Driftwood staring at the map, "these are the places where you could find them." We discuss our strategy and prepare for our journey.

We drive through Stovall Plantation headed for the "Muddy Waters Wilderness" with our spirits high anticipating success through a sound game plan. I meditate making sure I've covered every base. With the River dropping daily I know we will be hiking through thick, damp, brush for long periods of time. I make sure I have all the essentials that are needed for an successful expedition.

I ask," What's your deal with the PawPaw tree?"

He replies," I"m writing a book on the tree, but I have to find it to get the funding."

He continues," I figured the Mississippi River was my best chance."

I agree and was determined to be a part of the discovery!

We pull over the levee and I'm already envisioning success. It's a technique I learned in playing football. You play the game in your head before you play the game. Ellis Johnson, our shuttle driver chimes in, "Quit smiling River, we haven't even seen the water yet!"

We make it to Quapaw landing and launch our canoe. Andy looks confused, "This is not the River?!"

I answer,"No, but that is,” as I point around the bend.

Andy replies," Wow, I'm glad John suggested I bring you."

I laugh, " Me too!"

We stay left bank descending as Andy marvels at the beautiful homes along the River at Burke's hunting camp. The towboats are zipping up and down the channel, as I wait for a opportune time to cross. Andy lets me know that he's not used to paddling waters this big so I make sure he's hydrated and start making my move towards my favorite camp spot at the bottom of Island 64. The plan was to set up camp early so we could explore the middle of the island before dark. The river is glistening as if it had just rained. The water is cool and smooth, but the heat from the sun is bearing down on us. I show Andy the island in the distance, but he can't judge the distant.

"Wow River, this is nothing like paddling the rivers and lakes of central Florida!"

"Don't worry, this is what we do, I'll get us there."

We glide past the top of the island headed straight for the bottom end. It's a sandy bluff at the base of the island with willow trees shooting vertically resembling palm trees of the Caribbean, space evenly within a flat landscape creating endless tent sights between the trees. We raise our tents and secure our boat an head towards the middle of the island.

The setting starts to change as the willows create tight spaces and the ground feels saturated with a combination of sand and silt with new growth sprouting between every crack. It's a dried up pond. The smell of dead fish fills the air. There are three large fish who probably ruled the marsh disintegrated into the bed looking as if already fossilized. Andy takes pictures as we move into thicker brush. I look at the canopy and notice a huge great horned owl perched in a large cottonwood tree.

I think to myself, "Why is she here?"

We struggle through the brush and find a large clearing of driftwood stacked in asymmetrical arrangements all over the forest floor. I take a step and my peripheral perception seemed as if the pile moved. It didn't. It was covered with thousands of crickets and centipedes as well as hundreds of frogs. I take another step an noticed a huge cottonmouth perfectly camouflaged within a hollowed log.

"Andy snake left", I calmly state.

"There's two more", I add.

"There's a four foot northern water snake on that log", I noticed.

"River, let's get out of here, there's no PawPaws in here", Andy replies.

I add, "That's a great idea. Now I know why the owls are here!"

We hike back to camp with every stick on the ground resembling what we just witnessed in the brush.

"How did you see all of those snakes River?"

"I know their environment. You have to look past their camouflage."

We start a fire and discuss our plan for the next day. The plan is to explore Mellwood Lake, Desoto Lake, Knowlton, and Island 69. I express the importance of getting an early start. " We want to be on the water around seven ."

We get a early start as the sun announces It's presence. We pull into Mellwood chute thankful for the relief from the sun as the canopy gives us needed shade. Clear water is flowing out of the lake, as various bass species feed in the clear discharge. At the beginning of the waterway we decide to explore the forest at the entrance, left bank descending. Andy takes off. As I secure the boat I hear, "River! River!"

I secure the boat, run up the embankment, through thick vegetation, not knowing what to expect from Andy’s screams... more snakes, or...

...and there he is. Surrounded by a forest of PawPaw trees.

"River, we did it!"

We spend hours shaking trees looking for ripe fruit. Andy chimes in," we don't have to go the next 20 miles , I'm content." I take the hint and reschedule our shuttle to pick us up in Desoto Lake. Andy calls his wife to share the news, while I guide us to the ramp.

We meet our shuttle driver Ellis Johnson and hear that James " SuperChikan"

Johnson is giving a private show for the new Mayor of Clarksdale, the honorary Bill Luckett.

Feeling the reward of the expedition I shout, "Let's crash it! He needs to be a River Citizen!"

We end our journey watching SuperChikan sitting with Bill Luckett. He introduced the Delta Commission which is a group of assistants of various legislators working on the Farm Bill. He mentions the Farm Bill and I jump out of my seat, "Let's get ‘er done!", as the Mayor nods his head in agreement.

I say my goodbyes and make my usual early exit and take the long way home along the Sunflower River. I feel content knowing that the mindset is changing about the River for the better and we are building our team daily by signing River Citizens www.1Mississippi.org from all over the country, and getting them on the river through the Rivergator www.rivergator.org.

I see the lights from Quapaw Canoe Company in the distance and smile celebrating another journey completed.

Get to know your river.

-Mark River

Andrew Moore:

Pawpaws on the Mississippi

The Pawpaw Book

ASIMINA TRILOBA

Pawpaw is the largest, edible fruit Native to the United States. It is frequently found growing along rivers and streams in 26 Eastern states (from North Florida to Ontario Canada, from the Atlantic to Nebraska). I am writing a history of pawpaw, and a travelogue of the places it grows, and the people who grow them. I have traveled to meet scientists, farmers, foragers and brewers, from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, to Maryland, Alabama, and Louisiana.

But in my mind, no story of America's largest, greatest fruit--especially considering the pawpaw as a river denizen--would be complete without a trip to America's largest, greatest river.

Enter Quapaw. I wasn't exactly sure how I'd access The River (as I'd later learn to refer to the Mississippi). And then I read a magazine article about Quapaw Canoes. And on island63.com, I read a description of a certain tour on the Lower Mississippi River that included pawpaws and palmettos. I knew then that if I was to see the Mississippi River according to my vision (a vision which included an open mind), Quapaw Canoes would help me get there, perhaps even share my vision.

If pawpaw is America's most unknown, unsung fruit, I learned that the Mississippi, though notorious in American minds, might also be equally unknown, and certainly unsung. I wasn't prepared for how beautiful The River is, how wild and open its waterfront and bluffs are. But for all its beauty, and the adventures it could afford, River and I were the only paddlers out that day. Much like the pawpaw, it was just out there, repeating the ancient cycles of nature, waiting to be discovered.

Mark River was an invaluable guide and an eager companion. During our time paddling and hiking--and in the evening, just watching the river go by--included a good deal of me talking and teaching about pawpaws, and an equal amount of River teaching me about the Mississippi, and its surrounding country (a landscape that The River helps shape, and is ever changing). I had many questions, Mark had many answers. Mark kept saying that the River teaches, the River has answers. But so did Mark, and the spirit of Quapaw--it was infectious and energizing.

We found pawpaws. There was no guarantee that we would, but thanks to John's direction, my foraging experience, and Mark's expert navigation, everything came together. It had been a cool summer, so the pawpaws were slow to ripe. But the trees were generous enough to give us a handful of ripe, sweet fruit. We were given all we needed.

***

Andrew Moore has been working on the pawpaw book for the past year-and-a-half, but has been a fervent pawpaw enthusiast for the past three. He lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. He was raised in Polk County, Florida, just below the pawpaw's native range.

Follow his travels on Twitter, Flicker, and on his blog.

https://twitter.com/thepawpawbook

http://www.flickr.com/photos/91811565@N05/

http://www.thepawpawbook.wordpress.com

Job Opening:

News Editor-Layout Guru

Clarksdale Press Register

September 9, 2013

Company: Clarksdale Press Register

Position: News Editor-Layout Guru

Location: Clarksdale, Mississippi

Job Status: Full-time

Salary: $25,000 to $30,000

Website: http://www.pressregister.com

Description:

Clarksdale Mississippi, the most "Southern Place on Earth" according to Oxford American Magazine, and home to the infamous Crossroads where Blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to be the greatest guitar player ever, is looking for a news editor who's just as comfortable laying out newspaper and magazines as covering the local government or school boards.

In its 148th year serving Clarksdale and Coahoma County, the Clarksdale Press Register is a twice-weekly newspaper focused on local news that publishes its print product on Wednesday and Friday, and uploads its breaking news stories to its newly revamped website daily. We also produce quarterly magazines and dozens of special sections that allow its writers to pen stories on a myriad of topics.

Our ideal candidate will have a strong grasp of AP style, be familiar with QuarkXPress and having a passion for accurate and detailed community journalism. He/she would also be comfortable working against deadlines and have some digital photography experience.

Clarksdale is known for its local live music and Blues festivals that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and its Southern hospitality and laid back style of life. Employment benefits include: low-cost, partially-funded individual health insurance and 401K. Relocation expenses also negotiable for the right candidate.

If you possess a positive attitude, can work well within our team atmosphere and are interested please send a cover letter and resume to Publisher, Jesse Wright at publisher@pressregister.com with "News Editor" in the subject line.

When applying, mention you saw this opening listed at JournalismJobs.com.

Job ads copyrighted by JournalismJobs.com -- © 1998-2012

W.O.W.

Who Owns Water?

Who Owns Water - Official Trailer

Georgia, Alabama and Florida are locked in an epic battle over the fresh water from their once bountiful rivers. They call it the "Water Wars." It's a conflict once unthinkable in the deep green South.

But is it all about high-stakes politics and legal action? Two brothers decide to find out more. David and Michael Hanson paddle the three rivers for 30 days to ask the big questions, at water-level.

From the North Georgia Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, everyone wants to know Who Owns Water.

whoownswater.org


A film by Upstream and Fourmile Media
Trailer Music Credits: Connor Moore, The Law, Shovels & Rope

Maria the Korean Bride

Illinois and Georgia Movie Premiere

I am thrilled to announce that my documentary, Maria the Korean Bride will be showcased at the Naperville Independent Film Festival (40 min west of Chicago) on Tuesday, 09/17 and at the Atlanta Korean Film Festival on Monday, 09/23. If you could join me please let me know!

New York Movie Premiere: September 28

It's only few weeks away be sure to call the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 212-220-1460, to RESERVE your tickets today. It has already received some media attention on DNAinfo, New York and more to follow such as Tribeca Trib to name a few. There will be a party reception immediately after. Plus some of the movie stars will be present to meet all of you on Saturday, 09/28 at 4:00 p.m. Yes, kids are welcome. For more info, please go to http://tribecapac.com/maria-the-korean-bride-film

New Madrid Floodway

COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED TO MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2013

New Madrid Floodway

Accepting Comments during

“Review Session”

extended until

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2013

Paddlers and river-rats: please consider writing a letter to register your opposition… See below for details, where to find more info, and some sample letters.

Editorial

The proposed St. Johns and New Madrid Floodway Project would remove an 80,000 acre floodplain from the Lower Mississippi River in the Missouri Bootheel just below Cairo Illinois. This would result in a severe disruption of the natural processes of the Mississippi River by cutting and removing the main channel from its wetlands. There is only one reason to complete this project, and that is for increased farming and industry in places that it really shouldn’t be located. Hey, we can find 80,000 acres elsewhere for farming and industry. But there is nowhere as significant to the health of our nation as the floodplain of its biggest river, the Mighty Mississippi. Cairo, Illinois and everyone downstream will be effected by this closure. The waters will rise a little bit higher in each future flood as result. The US Army Corps of Engineers is asking for your input on a project called the St. Johns and New Madrid Floodway project. The defining component of this project is a new ¼ mile long, 60 ft. high levee that will sever the Mississippi River from an 80,000 acre floodplain in SE Missouri, eliminating critical fish and wildlife habitat, and putting dozen of river towns & cities downstream at increased flooding threat (including Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and everyone in between). The Dead Zone will be a little bigger every year as result of increased nutrients in the river. Make a phone call, send a letter or email. Keep reading below for contacts and more information.

Comments can be submitted

to the following:

Mr. Brad Horchem

U.S. EPA region 7

11201 Renner Blvd

Lenexa, Kansas

horchem.brad@epa.gov

USACE NEPA Coordinator

Mr. Joshua Koontz

Upper Delta Environmental Compliance Branch

167 N. Main, Room B-202

Memphis, TN 38103-1894

Phone: (901) 544-3975

Fax:(901) 544-3955 joshua.m.koontz@usace.army.mil

USACE Project Manager:

Mr. Danny Ward

Project Management Branch

167 N. Main, Room B-202

Memphis, TN 38103-1894

Phone: (901) 544-0709

Fax:(901) 544-3955

daniel.d.ward@usace.army.mil

For more information about project visit:

http://www.mvm.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/StJohnsBayouandNewMadridFloodwayProject.aspx

and also:

www.nwf.org/newmadrid

Comments can be submitted

to the following:

Mr. Brad Horchem

U.S. EPA region 7

11201 Renner Blvd

Lenexa, Kansas

horchem.brad@epa.gov

USACE NEPA Coordinator

Mr. Joshua Koontz

Upper Delta Environmental Compliance Branch

167 N. Main, Room B-202

Memphis, TN 38103-1894

Phone: (901) 544-3975

Fax:(901) 544-3955 joshua.m.koontz@usace.army.mil

USACE Project Manager:

Mr. Danny Ward

Project Management Branch

167 N. Main, Room B-202

Memphis, TN 38103-1894

Phone: (901) 544-0709

Fax:(901) 544-3955

daniel.d.ward@usace.army.mil

For more information about project visit:

http://www.mvm.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/StJohnsBayouandNewMadridFloodwayProject.aspx

and also:

www.nwf.org/newmadrid

Examples of letters already sent:

Aug 27, 2013

Mr. Joshua Koontz

Upper Delta Environmental Compliance Branch

167 N. Main, Room B-202

Memphis, TN 38103-1894

Dear Mr. Koontz,

I want to go on record as opposing the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project

Before I retired to Mississippi from California 10 years ago, I had never kayaked. I'm now an avid paddler, both on the Mississippi itself and several of its tributaries. The river and its flood plain, aside from their aesthetic and recreational values, are critical habitat for scores of air, land, and water-borne species.

The Mississippi River is the cultural and geographical heart of the country. More clinically, it is the aortic artery. The Mississippi and its dependent plant and animal systems can only take so much encroachment, and we're long past the point where, as a nation, we should have stopped taking from the river and started giving back to it. The appetite of farmers, industrialists, and developers for new land is insatiable, and the line must be drawn somewhere. I suggest it be at the site of this project, in the Missouri Bootheel.

I urge the responsible decision makers to block the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project.

Best regards,

Cliff Lawson

301 Panola Street

Water Valley, MS 38965

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