LMRD 733, Friday, July 12, 2019
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Mississippi River"
In advance: our wishes and prayers go out to friends, family and fellow river rats in the New Orleans area, as TS Barry approaches land, and the Mississippi might crest at highest levels since 1927.
Flow, River Flow
~By Mark River~
~~sketches by Driftwood Johnnie~~
I sit on my porch waiting for the sun to rise, anxiously anticipating the my next excursion on the Mississippi River. Packed and ready to go, I finish my morning chores of sweeping and watering my tomato plants, while listening to the mockingbird's jet-like bellow from the utility pole. I see the silhouette of a hummingbird getting nectar from the trumpet flowers hanging from the rooftop and egrets and herons flying towards the Sunflower River.
The day is now here as I head towards the canoe shop to prep gear and pick which voyager canoe would be suitable for our outing. As always, Driftwood is already at base enjoying a cup of tea, while witnessing the beautiful sunrise. We choose the Kingfisher Canoe, a 24 ft. cypress-strip canoe, efficient and light, perfect for paddling upstream and maneuvering through the flooded deciduous forest of willows, cottonwoods, and sycamores.
Our paddlers arrive with great energy-- a good sign that today will be as wonderful as expected. We head west towards the River, driving along fields of cotton and corn, while being amazed by the mounds that were constructed by the first Mississippians in the eleventh century. We can see the levee in the distance as whitetail deer with their velvet racks run along the fields trying out our intentions. The levee gets closer as we see migratory birds swooshing through the air catching insects and dragonflies. Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and Baltimore Orioles blanket the trees in the floodplain right over the levee. Mississippi kites glide high in the sky waiting for the dragonflies to make the mistake of entering their strike zone. Most of the wildlife have been pushed outside the levee by the rising waters of the Mississippi River.
We haven't seen any boat ramps for about seven months, but we River-rats will always find access! Our road begins where yours ends. We back over the levee and drop our boat in what is usually a parking lot. The water is running clear through the lot being filtered by the vast expanses of flooded forest upstream, creating the perfect swimming pool for Driftwood Johnnie to disappear into. Young Large Mouth Bass take advantage of this high water occurrence and stalk schools of shad. It is very challenging to catch bass on the River during regular water levels, but if you can find clear water, you will find them.
I look towards the back channel of Island 63 and the water is moving swiftly headed toward the main channel. We engage and go with the flow towards the main channel. Our plan, once we get there, is to paddle upstream using the eddies and flooded forest, to reach the high point of the island. We bob and weave through willows, hearing the sounds of the songbirds in the trees. Turtles plop in the water from their logs as we approach. Harmless water snakes swim effortlessly through the calm waters in the trees. Owls glide through the canopy. Deer and pigs scamper off as we approach high ground. The small sandbar is rooted up as if a farmer is getting ready to plant. Turkeys forage on the edge of the forest keeping their distance. Thousands of butterflies and moths swarm around us. With the River being high, with moving water everywhere, there are no mosquitoes or buffalo gnats. The water is still cold, so the temperature along the River is 15 degrees cooler than in town. We have lunch, enjoy the sounds of nature, and appreciate all the species who contribute to the balance of humanity and life. What a way to spend the afternoon in the Delta.
by Mark River
Mark River is Chief Guide and Youth Leader for the Quapaw Canoe Company. He is also the Southern Coordinator of 1 Mississippi's River Citizen Program. Stay tuned for upcoming Mark River podcast "May the River be With You" to be made available in July, 2019.
Teaser: Soon to be released World-Wide:
"May the River be With You"
Podcast by Mark River
Jump on board the big muddy with your guide Mark "River" Peoples and feel the powerful, storied currents of the Mighty Mississippi River pull at your feet and open your imagination. "May The River Be With You" focuses on how the largest river in North America influences and impacts our culture, from arts and education to ecology and commerce. In each episode, we discuss how the river affects us all in unexpected ways while also featuring music, poetry, tales and myths inspired by the river itself.
"May the River be With You"
To be released world-wide by the end of July, 2019
May the River be With You is a Clarksdale, MS, podcast focusing on the Mississippi River through stories about culture, art, music, recreation, tourism, and economy. The Mississippi River provides millions of people with drinking water, and sustains thousands of species in its wetlands, floodplains, and bottomland hardwood forests. The podcast increases river awareness through story-telling, education, engagement, advocacy, and policy.
Podcast presented by the Quapaw Canoe Company with support from 1Mississippi and the Mississippi River Network.
Co-hosted by Mark River Peoples and Charles Coleman. Produced by Coop Cooper. Artwork, music, and narratives by Johnnie “Driftwood” Ruskey.
Podcast made possible by 1Mississippi:
And the Mississippi River Network
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.com and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.
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