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LMRD 777 - Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 -- Dragonfly Dawn

The Dragonfly Dawn: a canoe story
as told from one big canoe to another:

22 years ago the "Queen of the Lower Mississippi River," Ladybug Canoe, was born
like a baby whale coming into the world (photo by Panny Mayfield)

During shutdown 2020 we have shifted our attentions to the birth of the next big canoe, the Dragonfly Dawn.

This series of photos illustrates Some of the steps in the pathway so far.

Dragonfly Dawn is a voyageur style canoe, designed for the rigors of the Great Lakes, and so is the perfect vessel for the powerful Mississippi River. I learned this style of construction in the 1990s from the late Ralph Frese, master canoe builder.

Fine Tuning the nose of Dragonfly Dawn with a spokeshave. Each curl of wood chenges the shape. The shape determines how the Dragonfly Dawn will perform as she cuts the waters of the world.

The top of the keel line is the only straight line in the big belly of the big canoe! (Mark River Peoples)

Filling cracks and holes (Tanner Alljets)

A view of the form underneath, the lines for Dragonfly Dawn were taken from our last big canoe, the Grasshopper, who eveolved from the Junebug Canoes, who are the grandchildren of Ladybug.

Tuning the keel -- a gentle but critical line that takes form from the nose ends and gradually and subtly diassapears into the expansive field of cypress and redwood strips in the belly.

Chinook elder George Lagergren taught us that the canoes talk to each other. Here Cricket Canoe (veteran of the 2011 flood) is sharing stories with Dragonfly Dawn.

Cricket Canoe, Dragonfly Dawn

Final sanding. Dragonfly Dawn is 29 feet long with a 54" beam.

Final shaping: Curls of red oak spinning out of spokeshave

The curls are reminscent of the curls of water paddlers make as they reach forward and drag their paddles back through the water, spiralling eddies forming on either side of paddle blade.

We are ready for the next step, which invloves many gallons of marine grade epoxy resin.

We discovered tiger stripes in the red oak stem ends, on both bow and stern of Dragonfly Dawn.

Dragonfly Dawn feels good to the touch, and brings smiles to all -- here with my sister Jennifer Ruskey

The peace of the Canoe Shop as we complete final sanding

Smooth rounded forms rising from the mass of wood. Every view of the Dragonfly Dawn reveals secrets. She is like a whale, each part uniquely distinct, but connected by a smooth skin.

Fitting Dragonfly Dawn for her dress -- 10oz fiberglass cloth

The silvery cloth rolls compliments her curves.

Time to mix glue. Tanner Aljets invents stirring with 2 spoons.

Fresh glue applied by Mark River Peoples. Organic respirators protect us from harmful eposy resin vapors.

Dragonfly Dawn's dress takes us all day to properly fit.

The redwood accent strips emerge out of the silver cloth as glue is absorbed

As the glue is absorbed the glass disappears and the dress draws in skin tight against the wood, revealing the grain within, and adding a rich amber tone.

Detail of glass fiber at bow. Next we will add several layers of protective epoxy over all fibers, which will leave a gloosy smooth finish on Dragonfly Dawn.

End of a long day. Canoe Builders celebrate as they clean up the tools

Dragonfly Dawn will end up with our good friend and fellow big canoe captain, "Water Possum," Layne Logue, owner and operator of Quapaw Vicksburg.

We're all Connected:

Ending here with Big River Love to everyone. Wherever you are, in on any of the seven continents, or on any of the seven seas -- wherever the passage of life flows onwards forever flowing -- we hope you are well and making good decisions for yourself, your friends, your family, and the future of humanity.

We feel you, and we are all in this boat together. Yours always, in service,

"Driftwood Johnnie"
John Ruskey