How Walking The Edge of the River Teaches Me To Walk the Edges of My Life
An Arkansas River photo essay From May 14, 2020
At Dennett‘s encouragement, I am posting my first photo essay here on Medium. Today, after weeks and weeks of resisting a walk by the Arkansas River, which runs through Tulsa, half a mile from our home, I embarked on a journey this morning, with my trusty dog, Juno, by my side.
We started with a leisurely walk through our neighborhood. Not much to see there. A few neighbors were out to whom I waved hello. Nearer the River, I noticed the first cottonwood tree I’ve ever noticed in our neighborhood. Juno and I stood under it for a bit, allowing the tree to sprinkle cotton on our heads.
There weren’t many people out — a few runners, cyclists, and walkers. Hardly anyone wore a mask (for future readers, this is a reference to the days of Covid-19). I brought a neck gaiter with me to pull up over my face just in case. I ended up using it most of the time we were on the walking trails.
Then, we crossed the road and headed to the River’s walking trails. I was eager to see the water. The River is not in one’s obvious line of vision as one walks along much of these trails. It is heavily camouflaged by a dense layer of trees and other plant growth. In order to see the River, I brought Juno off the trail and onto the grassy edge, up to random openings within the growth. In doing this, I was able to commune with the River and Nature today. For this, I am very grateful. The first plant that caught my eye was the above catalpa tree, in full bloom. I haven’t seen these in our neighborhood and they are quite beautiful. We stopped and I took in its blooming beauty.
The first unusual creature to catch my eye was an egret or heron — I’m not an expert at identifying water birds. It noticed us quickly and flew off before I could snap a clear photo. Several turtles were sunning today. Although turtle photos from the River’s edge are usually blurry, I went ahead and included the one above anyway. It was nice to see them sunning and not all of them scrambled for the water upon seeing a human and her dog — a nice change of pace from previous visits.
At first, I didn’t see these snakes sunning on this odd these odd-shaped pieces of concrete. When I did notice them I began to wonder if they were alive — they were so still. I crouched down and waited, hoping to see some movement. Relieved, I eventually saw the larger one move its head. It appears that this is a parent snake with its offspring: a wonderful sight to see!
After seeing two sets of geese with their goslings, we came upon this serene pair of mallards. They were posed so beautifully on this log that I coaxed Juno down the edge and closer to the shore to snap this photo. Although the details aren’t great, I love the composition of this photo. Eventually, the mallards left us, although at the end of our River Walk I’m pretty sure the same pair greeted us again.
This is a wider perspective of the Arkansas River to share a taste of what it looks like as one walks along it in the spaces where the water can be seen. Also, the grey sky had cleared to blue and the reflections of clouds in the water were so pretty.
Last year (2019) in Tulsa, we had historical flooding in April. Many of the River trees were uprooted. Here is one of those trees. Its form caught my eye. It was strange walking the trails and remembering the whooshing high water of last year, the snakes washed up onto the grass, and even beavers walking along the path as we went to see the effects of the flooding!
This is another broader perspective of an outlook over the Arkansas River. Along our walk, I saw so much litter and random clothing. I also saw where homeless people had probably been sleeping. That part was depressing. I wish more respect was given to our wild areas and shelter to our humans in need of it. I felt a wave of sadness at the impact humans have on nature and our people. I feet deeply how much Humans are Nature. And, then I remembered that we humans can commune with the Earth in healing ways, so not all hope was lost.
At the overlook, I saw our state bird, The Scissortail Flycatcher, but was unable to snap a photo this time. The graffiti on this tunnel always catches my eye when I stop here. The Great Blue Heron sculpture is part of a River Arts program that installs wildlife sculptures along the river.
Juno and I headed towards our neighborhood to finish our walk. At the crosswalk, I saw a Great Blue Heron flying overhead. I’m glad I recognized my resistance to this walk and went anyway. Once I had gotten out of the house and into a Nature adventure my heartfelt so nurtured.
Thank you for joining me on my River Walk!