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LMRD 799 - Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"
Tuesday, Sept 22, 2020 ~ Autumnal Equinox

This issue In honor and remembrance of
~~Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933 - 2020~~
~~~~~A Great Tree in the Forest~~~~~

When Great Trees Fall
by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

In this issue:
~When Great Trees Fall
~Grandfather Cypress Comes Home
~Now Live: QCC Gift Shop (on Etsy)
~QCC in the News
~Layne Logue, Quapaw Vicksburg

From the Mighty Quapaws: We send our big river blessings to you all on the day of the Autumnal Equinox!

For a moment everything is in balance in the division between night and day, just like it was on the first day when God separated the light from the dark. We Quapaws have always sought the light, even while we love the dark -- the cool dark mud, the calm of swimming underwater in the dark muddy river, the cool peaceful night sky on the big river islands, and the dark spaces in between the waterfalls of stars as seen in the Milky Way.

We would not know the light without the dark. Every day is a blessed day for us, as we journey across the face of the waters where the spirit is found forever flowing between the mediums: between the light & the dark, the water & air, the boils & whirlpools, mud & the sand, ecstacy & agony, suffering & enlightenment. And we thank you for joining us in these journeys, and allowing us to serve you in the name of our forever wild, and forever free-flowing, muddy river! We love you all!

(Mighty Quapaws, Fall Equinox, 2020)

Grandfather Cypress Falls!! (and comes home)

Our mightiest and endless thanks to Joel, Charles, Todd, Dennis, Leroy and everyone as part of to the INCREDIBLE team at Clarksdale Park Commission and Clarksdale Public Works for making this dream come to life!! With a very special and most heartfelt thanks to Liddell Houston whose graceful precision, fierce tenacity and Heavenly inspired strength saw Grandfather Cypress’ journey from sky to soil through with unflinching honor and courage. The journey of transforming log to canoe begins! And though his bark may no longer breathe, Grandfather Cypress’ spirit is surely a force of nature that shall sing out with stories and adventures throughout the ages! As we embark on this transformational new chapter of life- for Grandfather, us Quapaws, and with our BEAMers- may we carry out the legacy of our blessed Grandfather Cypress and all of the miraculous life forms from our Creator with Big River Love and Divine Devotion to cherish and preserve for our world today and the generations to come. “We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.”

Videos on Vimeo:

Grandfather Cypress Falls

BEAM Session #2

Action Video on YouTube: Falling of Grandfather Cypress
on the banks of the Sunflower River:

Time Lapse video of the entire operation!

Grandfather Cypress and BEAM
Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi

We are carving a new dugout canoe in Clarksdale, Mississippi! These videos document the dropping of a giant 170 year-old, dead-standing cypress tree. I have been admiring "Grandfather Cypress" for decades in my paddling and exploration of the Sunflower River. Grandfather Cypress mysteriously died a couple of years ago, and subsequently became the apple of my eye in our BEAM project -- BEAM = Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi. BEAM is supported by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. Through a series of live streaming videos, we are BEAM-ing the artistic, cultural, and life-instructional process involved in the carving of a dugout canoe! Go to Quapaw Canoe Company FB page for viewing BEAM live streaming sessions! We are thankful to our partnership with the City of Clarksdale and its Parks Commission and Public Works in this dugout canoe carving! BEAM is made possible with a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the help of our collaborators, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation.

Jean Canot and Mark River counting tree rings --
Grandfather Cypress was 170 years old!

NOW LIVE: Quapaw Canoe Company Gift Shop

~~~To visit gift shop, CLICK HERE~~~

Or -- Cut & Paste from Etsy:


Quapaw Canoe Company ~ In the News

Atlanta Journal Constitution
Inspiration Mississippi
Arkansas deserves to be
world’s outdoors capital
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Sept 20, 2020

Arkansas deserves to be world's outdoors capital

by Bryan Hendricks | Today at 3:26 a.m.

[Excerpted]. Meanwhile, Helena-West Helena is quietly branding itself as the world's capital for catfishing and river adventure. It started with John Ruskey, a Colorado native who -- inspired by the writings of Mark Twain -- immersed himself in the magic of the Mississippi River. Ruskey founded Quapaw Canoe Company in Helena-West Helena, offering guided canoe trips down the entire lower Mississippi River. Ruskey will take you from Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico if you desire, camping on sandbars and eating meals under some of the starriest skies in North America.

It is a symbolic triumph. The Mississippi River was always fearsome. It was considered too dangerous to be a playground, but Ruskey works hard to recast the river's image as something to be appreciated and enjoyed.

I and two of my children joined Ruskey for a short float on the Mississippi River a few years ago. The Mississippi was out of its banks and looked a mile wide. My kids and I took the trip in my 16-foot Buffalo canoe. The flow was so powerful, with so many cross currents and undercurrents, that it pulsed through the canoe's hull. It felt as if we were riding a living, breathing organism.

It sucked the canoe toward the middle, far from the safety of land, and it resisted attempts to paddle back toward the bank. The river's obstinance softened when I learned to surf the canoe back toward the bank one heaving swell at a time.

Meanwhile, Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith is expanding the city's footprint by laying claim to the title of Catfishing Capital of the World. The city laid the foundation recently by hosting a major catfishing tournament in which one team caught a 112-pound catfish that took three hours to land.
That's blue marlin and bluefin tuna territory. Or big sharks. To have an inland opportunity like that is truly world class.

Bill Dance, a bass fishing and outdoors TV pioneer, plays a major role in this campaign. According to Smith, Dance says that the section of the Mississippi River near Helena-West Helena supports an unnaturally large number of trophy-size catfish. Dance says it's a place where they "like to hang out."

One of my favorite fishing trips was a catfishing excursion on the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Arkansas Post Canal with Tim Griffis of Lonoke. Griffis introduced me to hardcore catfishing in 2005 on the lower Arkansas River below Wilbur Mills Dam. As fun as that trip was, the Mississippi River trip captivated my imagination. Griffis and I exited the tame waters of the Arkansas Post canal into the broad, brawling Mississippi. On Mississippi's side of the river was a giant sandbar that was so white in the summer sun that it hurt to look at it. Catching fish was secondary to merely being there.

No southern city is better positioned to be an outdoor capital than Little Rock. The Arkansas River is an untapped treasure, but John Burkhalter and Dean Kumpuris see its recreational potential. Both have devoted considerable time and financial resources to develop the Arkansas River recreationally.

The Ouachita National Forest is only about 30 minutes to the west. The Ouachita National Forest doesn't get nearly the love it deserves, but in 2019 Rep. French Hill introduced legislation to add 640 acres to the Flatside Wilderness Area. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is also working to expand and enhance the fabulous Winona Wildlife Management Area. You can enter the Ouachita Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and hike in near wilderness all the way to Talimena State Park in Oklahoma. As a whole, the Ouachitas also represent world-class opportunities.

No matter where you are in Arkansas, there's a lot to love close to home.

For full story, go to:

End Note: a 10-paddle salute to Layne Logue, Quapaw Canoe Company Vicksburg:

We're so proud of our brother Layne Logue, Quapaw Canoe Company Vicksburg!

Layne Logue, "Water Opossum," in his habitat

Layne, it has always been a pleasure and a joy working with you! From the Mighty Quapaws of the Lower Mississippi River: the honor is all ours! Big River Love downstream to you brother! And here's to many, many more years to come!

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch has been written and published by John Ruskey since 1998 -- sharing random bits & pieces of our experiences, thoughts and dreams for the biggest river in North America. Please share, but also credit appropriately. If you wish to subscribe, send email. If you wish to unsubscribe, use below button.

Thank you, and Big River Blessings,

John Ruskey
Quapaw Canoe Company
291 Sunflower Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614