Happy Martin Luther King Day to everyone:
Here's to peace, justice and equality in 2019!
(from the Mighty Quapaws)
Middle Mississippi, Fountain Bluff (photo: John Ruskey)
"Eddy: An eddy is the swirling of a fluid and the reverse current created when the fluid is in a turbulent flow regime. The moving fluid creates a space devoid of downstream-flowing fluid on the downstream side of the object. Fluid behind the obstacle flows into the void creating a swirl of fluid on each edge of the obstacle, followed by a short reverse flow of fluid behind the obstacle flowing upstream, toward the back of the obstacle." (from Wikipedia)
Middle Mississippi, Fountain Bluff (photo: John Ruskey)
Caught in an Eddy
My daily life as a steward of the Mississippi River rewards my knowledge of wild natural things while being moved by the healing powers that exist in water. The sound, feel, smell, and taste all have medicinal properties within themselves. Its movements are smooth and fluid. The sounds over a shoal are soothing. The feel of the two eddies of displacement that's created with every paddle stroke. The sensation of rejuvenation running through my hair on a hot humid Delta day is the perfect sweetener for my River ginger tea.
Everyone has things in life that've been pushed to the memory bank as if they will disappear. These events, like microplastics, never go away, but dampen your spirit and soul as you wander through this life. The River has given me the healing needed to finally process these events, and let it flow. Eddies are formed when natural and artificial structures manipulate the flow of water downstream, creating a pool of reciprocating water going upstream. The rule is: stay out of the eddy downstream, and stay in the eddy upstream. I've watch them over and over and try to apply them to life.
When I was 13 my Mother Iveara Peoples died of brain cancer from complications with pneumonia. That was the most traumatic event ever. The thought of never seeing her again still affects me today. This left me with a lifetime of achievements and no one to celebrate with, as well as empty relationships, and a buck-like mentality of survival, never trusting anything or anyone, and making sure you’re not seen too often or bad things will happen. Through research I've found that I suffer from "unresolved grief"- which has given me clarity to what I have to face for the rest of my life.
When examining an eddy on the River, at high water, you see powerful water eroding and carving muddy cliff banks, exposing roots, and collapsing helpless, healthy trees into the channel. Sometimes in its vortex, root-balls, dead-fall, wood-planks, plastics, and victims of mayhem, all circling in a tight ball of debris, are all swirling around, waiting for the water to drop. Meanwhile low water eddies are relaxing. Shallow pools form, which are excellent for swimming and cooling off. Flocks of birds relax at its point, gorging themselves on the bounty of fish resting in the eddy. When the water is really low, they expose large gravel beds full of petrified wood, lithofied mud, and fossilized beds of chert and limestone.
In life you can get caught in an eddy anytime, continuing the same thing, with the same outcome. You could be with the wrong group of people - limiting yourself to the same result. You could be listening to people not having your best interest at hand. You could be not following your dreams, and circling the eddy, over and over again. Lately, I've learned to use the eddy to my advantage. Sometimes you have to paddle upstream to reach your destination, then cruise downstream home to receive your reward.
Don't be afraid of your past or you will never see your future! Go to the Mississippi River and experience the healing powers of water.
Mark River is chief guide and youth leader for the Quapaw Canoe Company. He is also southern coordinator for the 1Mississippi River Citizen Program connecting people who care about rivers with people who make decisions about them. Go to Lower Mississippi River Dispatch for more of Mark River's blogs!
5 Tips for Responsibly Visiting Parks During the Shutdown
You've read the disturbing stories reported from our National Parks, now that the partial government shut down has moved into January. The situation is serious: wildlife picking through bins piled high with trash, latrines overflowing with waste and unfettered off-roading in fragile ecosystems. With 85% of National Park employees furloughed, rescue services are limited and maintenance continues to be deferred.
While we’re bummed the government is shut down, we’re glad that many of our national parks and other public lands have remained open to the public. The trouble is, almost all park workers are furloughed, and facilities are locked. If you can’t wait for the shutdown to end before visiting, check out our five hacks for how to responsibly visit parks during the shutdown.
1. Have a Poop Plan! Facilities locked, remember? All of a sudden, even day users need to be aware of how to dispose of their (ahem) human waste properly. You can “’go’ before you go,” but the coffee I drank on the way to our recent shutdown trip to Shenandoah National Park … you get the drift. There are two good options: first, you can bury your poop in a 6”-8” cathole, at least 70 big steps from water and trail (remember to pack a small trowel), and either pack out your TP or bury it deep within your cathole. Second, you can bring a personal, portable toilet – clean, easy, and fast. Available at many local outdoor stores and here.
2. Be ready to pack EVERYTHING out. We’ve all become accustomed to having trash cans at trailheads and other day-use areas, but with no one coming to empty these receptacles, your best bet is to bring that trash home with you. FYI – the garbage burden on the often small local communities around our national parks is huge – consider taking your trash home with you as a matter of course even after the government opens back up.
3. Be ready for Wilderness! No rangers on patrol – roads blocked by fallen trees – bridges washed out. You should check a park’s “shutdown” page before visiting for closures and other relevant issues, but know that this is now old information, and things may have changed (likely for the worse). Let someone know where you’re going, and bring your ten outdoor essentials.
4. Channel your Inner Ranger. Park staff might not be watching, but everyone else is, so model responsible visitor behavior. Park rules are in place to help protect our parks. Camping when there’s “No Camping” or building fires in a “No Fires” area can cause long-lasting damage. Hopefully the shutdown will end soon – don’t create scars that last far longer.
5. Give Back. Open parks during a shutdown means free entry, which is nice. But if you can afford it, consider making a donation to your park’s friends’ group or foundation, or look for opportunities to volunteer when your park’s open again. Parks are going to need all the help they can get to recover when their budgets are already at the breaking point.
Enjoy Your World and "Leaf" No Trace
All of us here at Leave No Trace hope, for the sake of our beloved outdoors, that the shutdown ends soon. If it continues, we will share more information with you about efforts to help by the thousands of passionate members and partners. We will also continue to bring you best Leave No Trace information for making good decisions about enjoying our shared lands responsibly during this precarious time.
Thank you for all you do for Leave No Trace!
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people across the country every year.
Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.
Our Dream for Quapaw Canoe Company in 2019:
"To share the raw, wild, power & beauty of the big river
with patience, balance and compassion
for our clients
for the river
for all its creatures
and for our mother earth"
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to www.island63.comand click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.
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