Saturday, July 1, 2023

Low tide on the Mississippi


Not much more than two months ago, the Mississippi River was as flooded as I've seen it from the close shore. I think I even showed you pictures here on clerkmanifesto of full staircases down to the river instead plunging into the river water after the very first steps, maybe like this? 

For the most part Saint Minneapolis is smartly situated, and our river valley gorge can contain any level of catastrophic flood. Only the wildlands and mostly unbothered forests protected below from development are regularly thrown to the water, and buried in it. And they like it! They are reborn from it.

But now not only have the waters, in two short months, receded, but the river is as low as I can remember experiencing. This may be more amazing to me even than the flood, for I am given new access to places I am not usually able to get at. And strange and terrible secrets of the human and wild Mississippi are revealed. There is garbage and blossoms and leaping fish and fetid mud that will curdle your heart. Wild art is afoot. There are stories revealed down there that I cannot quite uncover or answer. The Mississippi River is a place, even in these modern days, of terrible and mysterious power.

Today's picture is of a kind of broad, back channel of the river that I love. The way the water cuts back into the rich forest of the river bottom, and creates a wonderful, grassy point surrounded on all sides by water, is one of my favorite things about this area. Now, though, this whole great back bay is an expanse of sinking mud, and one that reminds me of a place I was once at on the north end of Vancouver Island. There, many years ago I met two black bears who were roaming a vast expanse of mud that the dramatic tides had exposed.

I spent an hour or two on a picture trying to bring these two places together. But as is sometimes the case with the tools I use, when I tried a second, more simple version, one that took but a few minutes, the results were much more appealing:

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