Chef E says of her topic choice: If you think about it we are all living on one big giant fish bowl, and viewing each others lives through our blogs. We also have probably been swimming and taken a few underwater photos! ... A puddle, or even just a lonely beta or goldfish will suffice. Get creative, and I am sure whatever you all post will be nice!
Remember to click on the camera on the right to see some amazing photographs!
I’ve never been a water person. I spent my childhood embraced by gentle mountains. Large bodies of water seemed foreboding, cold, even cast with a slightly dangerous gloom. Nothing like the warmth of being snuggled to the breast of the Earth’s heart. Living, green soft mountains with their cooling shade and their breathtaking views, and life everywhere.
So when we moved to Paducah and I walked along the river with the dogs, I mostly missed the mountains. I could not understand why, no matter what time of day or night, there were always some cars parked, facing the river, with lonely occupants just staring. At what? My eyes saw the same, monotonous olive drab water, flowing in the wrong direction (rivers flow east toward the ocean where I’m from), with tugboats straining to push their impossible loads upstream.
But, always, people watching. Cheerful couples who say “hey” as the dogs and I pass. Lonely men in their sixties and upward who raise an index finger from the steering wheel in greeting, without smiling from their sad eyes. Just facing the river and staring. I imagine those men as retired watermen. Glad to be done with the hard, dangerous labor of river life, but unable to escape its current, they are pulled back and they glare longing, damning, private thoughts.
That’s what I imagine.
When I would look at the river, I’d think of what was “under there”. One day while my husband and I were walking, the dogs suddenly raised their noses hysterically saying, “whoa, what is that?” A couple of guys were standing next to their red pickup, looking in the back, and they invited us to have a peek. “Whoa” was an understatement. Lying in the bed, taking up the entire length of the regular sized bed of that new red truck, was the most prehistoric monstrous looking giant catfish you ever saw. Evil eyes staring blankly, still making some feeble efforts with its dying gills to get oxygen from the downing air. And that Jurassic fiend was under the benign drab water by which we had innocently walked. I shuddered.
No, the river was no friend of mine.
Four years later, the dogs and I were walking of an early morning. It was overcast, and the river was a perfect mirror of the gray sky. The trees on the Illinois shore were deep mountain evergreen, just so nearly black, with silver gray frosting. So much richness, and depth of color in that gray. The way black and white photographs reveal more character and emotion. A tug with nine barges of coal was snuggled up to the Paducah bank in front of me, while another pushed upstream with pyramids of rose rust camel river rock. The black mounds of coal, the rose rust beige, the gunmetal gray of the water and sky. Ah, I thought. I said “morning” to the sad looking man in the car, who raised his index finger from the steering wheel and gave me a serious nod in greeting. I looked back at the river, and for the first time, I got a glimpse of what they – the river people – saw.
I’d been reading a biography of Mark Twain, who had been a captain of riverboats just down stream from where I now stood. I looked through their eyes, the men in the cars, Mark Twain, and the people who shared their souls with the river. I felt the mystery, the power, the quiet glamour of the flow. Finally, in grayscale my mountain child could see the raw beauty of my new river home.
I paused. The dogs stood frozen, sensing the sanctity of the moment. I felt the pull of that magical clarity which was anything we can’t control. Like the mountains, the river was big and silent and forceful and eloquent in its grayness. I walked on, but I raised an index finger from my grip on my dogs’ leashes, and nodded a serious, reverent greeting to the next old man in a car I passed.