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LMRD 810 ~ Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"
~~~Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020~~~


Help us make the reveal: What is the Spirit hidden within?


Today's the Day! Please look through all 25 selections below, and make your Vote for the image or idea that best fits the "Spirit of the Canoe"

Instructions: Make your vote by sending email to John Ruskey We'll accept votes through tomorrow (Wed) at noon.

Tomorrow Wed, Nov 18th, 3-4pm CST, we'll count the vote and decide on canoe design while live BEAM-ing on Quapaw Canoe Company FB page!

Vote to be counted during live BEAM session
Wed, Nov 18, 3-4pmCST on FB Live -- Quapaw Canoe Company!

"Río Abajo Río: Carving Out the River Within"

BEAM = Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi

25 Choices for Voting
on the Spirit of the Canoe:

1) Giddy Canoe

2) Water Bird (Abie) Canoe

3) Orrie Canoe

4) Solly Canoe

5) Quapaw Laying Deer Canoe

6) Moon Goddess Canoe

7) Wood Duck Canoe

8) Old Man River Canoe (Green Man Canoe?)

9) Fish Canoe

10) Buck Deer Canoe

11) Owl Canoe

12) Lexy Canoe

13) Beaver Canoe

14) Whale Canoe

More Choices (sent as ideas, not drawings):

~~~Other ideas~~~

15) Dragon Canoe -- Wang Ping saw a Dragon Canoe

17) The Cownoe -- Hank Burdine saw a head of a cow with a big set of Texas Longhorns on the head. "Call it the Cownoe!“

18) Water Turkey Canoe -- John Mohead saw a Water Turkey Canoe. Said John: "When I look at the raw form of "Grandaddy Cypress" I keep seeing a Water Turkey. Head held high, sitting low in the water, moving effortlessly as one with it. Just don't try to make it fly."

19) River Swimmers Canoe -- Jeff Gersh: "Maya and I wanted to let you know that Grandfather Cypress looks like he’s hosting a couple of beautiful river swimmers, kicking and reaching high and long…"

20) New Directions Canoe -- Judy Belue saw a canoe design featuring the new Mississippi flag and a new direction.

21) The Alpha and the Omega Canoe -- Dan Weibe: "The Yin and the Yang. Good and Evil. Infinity too. All the Old Gang. A canoe for all times come before and those times in the future."

22) Crocodile Canoe -- Mike Beck saw a crocodile canoe, like those of the Sepik River in New Guinea. "
I like how the crocodile's eyes project above the gunnel:"

(PS: I'm seeing a crocodile shape in #1 "Giddy Canoe")

23) Green Man Canoe -- Thomas Jackson saw the "Green Man".
(PS: maybe this is similar to what Kathy Dulaney saw in the "Old Man River Canoe?"

24) Spiral Pattern Canoe -- Cliff Lawson saw the universal pattern of the spiral, as expressed by Jon Foreman

25) Snake or Salamander Canoe -- Betsy Howell: "I'm enjoying the dispatches and unfolding story about the grandfather cypress and its transformation. I love these sketches and ideas! I don't have a sketch for you but I've had the ideas of maybe a snake or salamander canoe? Both snakes and salamanders are so often overlooked and snakes especially of course are so reviled by many. And yet, many cultures see them as wise and healing and bringers of transformation. The world could use some of that now! A few years ago I went back to DC for the March for Science and met up with a colleague in Virginia who took me out herping. I just love the South for amphibians and reptiles. I met a rainbow snake, a ratsnake, a few copperheads, it was all great. Even though I'm not sure people would be super excited about a snake canoe, that would be my vote."

Notes (and photos) from Canoe Drawings:

The first 4 choices come from our good friend Dahveed Benson, Voyageur Canoe Camp director, Colorado Springs School history teacher, youth expedition leader, and loving father of 4 boys: "The Benson boys had a great afternoon imagining and drawing dugouts - Thank you all so much for sending this fun challenge out! Here is a pdf of their work and a few pictures of the process. good health, peace, and positive vibes to you all, Dahveed"

1) Giddy Canoe

2) Water Bird (Abie) Canoe

3) Orrie Canoe

4) Solly Canoe

5) Quapaw Laying Deer Canoe

Chris Lese, Marquette University High School: "Here is my sketch for your canoe project. I searched online for Quapaw influences and saw a tea pot that I imagined floating down the rivers and this made me smile. This was really fun to sketch through ideas and see other's creations."

6) Moon Goddess Canoe

Lorraine DeAndrea, artist, gardner, wife & partner of the American sculptor, John DeAndrea: "Very rudimentary Sketch... Moon Goddess Canoe?" (Lorraine is also my oldest sister!)

7) Wood Duck Canoe

Robin Whitfield, artist, paddler, naturalist, conservationist: "I had a great time sitting with grandfather Cypress yesterday. I saw a wood duck immediately and couldn't go beyond that. I tried. I can just see it bobbing in the river with beauty and confidence
like the wood duck drake. Comfortable on both land and water.
I saw sister Poke Berry on the Hill up from grandfather Cypress. I enjoyed using her colorful berry ink in the Canoe design. We had an awesome time paddling the Sunflower while the sinking sun painted all the trees with golden light. We saw several deer, Asian carp and lots of sparrows."

8) Old Man River Canoe (Green Man Canoe?)

Kathy Dulaney: "The bow of the canoe could be the face of an old man with beard and hair flowing back into the body of the canoe. The grooves of the beard and hair would flow along the sides turning into grooves similar to the trunk of a cypress tree, then smoothing out and ending with three cypress knees at the stern. A rough sketch is attached. Love the work you do with and for the river. Thank you."

9) Fish Canoe

Rambling Steve Gardner, musician, photographer, creative wildman extraordinaire: this is "Miz Sally and Big Steve in a Fish Canoe. Oh, it is what I feel from here for sure! Set it free and let it swim! All the best! And save me a dry spot on the sand bar! Wishes for safe travels and smooth water!"

10) Buck Deer Canoe

John Ruskey, river guide, canoe carver: An 8-point Buck Deer visited me while i was sitting quietly sketching one morning in the heat of August. We had a conversation, a sharing of buck snorts. He wanted to leap across the Sunflower near where i sat, but i didn't want him to. After a few minutes he turned tail and fled back through small woods below Clakrsdale jail. I am fairly certain this was a real experience, but i also feel the this was the spirit of Grandfather Cypress speaking to me."

11) Owl Canoe
"I saw a great horned owl across the river -- Owl Canoe?"

12) Lexy Canoe
"Craig's dog Lexy came for a visit. Lexy is on her last legs in life. She is 77 years old (12 years old in human years). She belongs to our good neighbor, Craig Hatchett, of Sunflower Laundry, which he operates with his father across the street from the Quapaw Canoe Company. They are an example of a great father-son relationship."

13) Beaver Canoe
"My Daddy, Gary Ruskey-Halsey, retired farmer, housebuilder, also woodcarver and furniture builder, and loving, devoted husband to my mother, visited, and saw a beaver -- Beaver Canoe?"

14) Whale Canoe
Spanish photographer Magdalena Solé saw a canoe in the shape of a whale -- "It will be powerful and wise..." Note: Ms. Solé is based in New York City. Her photographic impulses have taken her across the world—from Cuba, to Japan, to China, to Brazil, to Burma, to the Mississippi Delta, anywhere she goes she's most drawn to the people and places on the margins.

Other Canoe Spirit Sharings:

Spirit Voices -- "Danny V" Veshinski: "I read your recent dispatch and it reminded me of a song by Paul Simon titled “Spirit Voices.” I thought I’d share a link for you to enjoy!"

"Wishing you well and excited to see the spirit within the canoe come to form!"

Poem of the Woodcarver -- dynamic educator and father, Scott Shirey: shared a Chuang Tzu poem that captures the very same "River under River" spirit we are searching for as canoe carvers, (and a similar spirtual practice -- fasting for clarity):

Chuang Tzu:
Poem of the Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.

After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

"Poem of the Woodcarver" by Chuang Tzu, from The Way of Chuang Tzu, by Thomas Merton. © New Directions, 1965.

New Mississippi State Flag:

We're very proud of the new Mississippi State Flag. Picutured above is our own personalized version, which we'll be flying high from our flagpole -- featuring the 17 recognized religions as reflected by the 17 fish and 17 magnolia blossoms... Below is the one voted in Nov 3rd, 2020

Our new official state flag! Paddles Up Mississippi! We love it! Voted in Nov 3, 2020. Whooo-Whooop!

Mark River's Dream # 125 (watercolor by John Ruskey)

Vote to be counted during live BEAM session, Wed, Nov 18, 3-4pmCST
"Río Abajo Río: Carving Out the River Within"

BEAM = Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi

Project Partners:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation is dedicated to promoting stewardship of the Lower and Middle Mississippi River through deep engagement.

Mississippi Arts Commission invests in our state’s makers through a variety of grant programs supporting nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and individual artists. Through the arts, diverse communities of all sizes can better identify shared values, create vibrant public spaces, and enhance the effectiveness of schools. The arts also attract visitors who leave with a strong, positive image of Mississippi. Fostering excellence in the arts provides the inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens.


The Walter Anderson Museum of Art inspires discovery, imagination, and community-building on the Gulf Coast and beyond through programs, exhibitions, and outreach; and embodies Walter Anderson’s vision for societies in harmony with their environments. "Our mission is to empower lifelong curiosity and connection to the natural world through the art of Walter Anderson and kindred artists."


1Mississippi River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"


Balance, Diversity, Democracy

Quapaw Canoe Company core values are balance, diversity, and democracy, which all derive from our experience paddling big canoes on the big waters of North America. Balance is exemplified by the passage of our canoes. Everything we do is about keeping even keel. To do otherwise is dangerous to our health and well-being. Pandemic and police brutality are symptoms of the imbalance we seek to counteract in our services and work as canoe builders, guides & outfitters. Other imbalances include species loss, global warming, and loss of wild places. Diversity for us includes all peoples and all creatures great and small. We have always created equal access for all. Our staff reflects our regional demographics, around 60% Black and 40% White. Since 1998 we have made it our mission to make sure all communities found along the Lower Mississippi River enjoy equal access to the wonders of the big river, and the life changing experience of the wilderness. Our adventures practice the best qualities of Democracy. Everyone in the big canoe sets aside their differences and paddles together for the good of the whole. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inherent in life is the right to breathe clean air, the right to drink clean water, the right to eat good food, and the right to live in healthy shelter, in healthy communities.