February 14, 2010

an artist's view of river trash

post by Steve Schnarr, drawing by Cathy Johnson

Often, when visiting wild and beautiful places, I have a habit of framing photos to crop out the evidence of humankind. It’s some kind of attempt to peer back in time at a more “pristine” natural world that exists amongst our human strivings. Despite that, it’s not very honest!

But other times, it’s that contrast between the unfolding and timeless natural drama and the evidence we humans leave behind that is the most interesting.

I came across this wonderful drawing today by naturalist and artist Cathy Johnson, who lives near Excelsior Springs, MO. She was visiting Cooley Lake Conservation Area, which features a remnant oxbow lake in the Missouri River bottoms, as well as a popular boat ramp on the Big Muddy. It’s a perfect encapsulation of that frustration we all feel when we visit a favorite spot of beauty to find piles of junk left behind by careless people.

Here’s the direct link to the drawing on her flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cathy-johnson/4354939050/

If you’d like to know more about the diverse, beautiful and personal art of Cathy, check out her website or blog.

February 7, 2010

River Song

poem by John Brady

People of The River Come out to play
You can’t find something better to do on a sunny day

Children of The River The time is right
To go down to the riverside on a starry night

Tribe of The River It won’t be long
You’ll be laughing out loud and singing the River song

She’s a ghost in the winter When the ice is in
Creeping along with her back to the winter wind
She’s a bull in the spring As the rains come down
Commanding respect from all who gather ‘round

She’s a balm to the spirit In the summer breeze
Floating all of the cares away down to the sea
She’s a jewel in the fall When Indian Summer comes
Ferrying the autumn leaves back to the Sun

A trail for the traders Back in olden times
A highway of commerce bearing souls to the western climes
Since the age of the Glaciers An anchor of life
For the boatman a lover more familiar than a wife

A great engine of progress Through the settling of the West
Sowing Man and his works, the bad among the best
She nurtured our cities and forgotten towns
She was seen as a bringer of life with a rippling crown

With the passage of time We lost touch with her worth
As we leveled the forests and had our way with the earth
We forgot about her beauty We despoiled her health
As we strove at material things to create our wealth

She was saddled with bridges She was throttled with dams
When she faltered or flooded, we started with greater plans
Her passage was labored With garbage and soil
Her waters polluted with poisons and blotted with oil

And so her spirit slumbered Beneath an ignorant veil
As slowly a few awoke to remember the tale
Then as sure as sunrise The mist of arrogance cleared
When the song of the tribe again came to be heard

Slowly they gathered By the River’s side
To sound the call to the River, out far and wide
It’s a chorus that’s growing among the young and the old
Passing on to our children the love of the River we hold

People of the River Come out to Pray
Send the song of your heart down to the river way
Throw your soul on her waters Plant your feet in her sand
Give her thanks for helping you to live in the Promised Land

Father Pekitanoui Mother Missouri
May you roll forever through our land to the sea
Long may your children gather, Close by your side
And send the love of your people down to the ocean’s tide