Waiting, Impatiently

Waiting, Impatiently

Will a wet summer mean a burst of color
for Ozark hills familiar with drab autumns?

Clouds more frequent, but blue skies,
still, in these shorter days of lower sun.

The sycamores seem to measure
the light, their yellow the first to show.

Without a frost to say otherwise, green
clings to maple, oak, and hickory.

No monarchs in sight as the milkweed
goes to seed, but the season will not be rushed.

Back in Buffalo, I’d be taking photos of peak fall foliage around Columbus Day. A week later could be too late, with colors fading. There’s nothing here yet, in Missouri, but our first frost of the season is in this weekend’s forecast. Fingers crossed.

Images (top to bottom)
Sycamore starting to change on Moreau River (04 Oct 2019)
Milkweed, bank-side of pond in Runge Conservation Center (09 Oct 2019)
Common buckeye feeding on aster at Runge (09 Oct 2019)
(click each for larger view in new tab)

Leaves in the Stream

Leaves in the Stream

What are breadth and width
to a river?  Increase a channel’s depth,
yet curtail navigation.  Obstacles, seen
and unseen, arise.  Shallows appear
that did not exist.  Who are we
to question rain?  The river’s course
was set, yet always in flux,
long before our arrival.  Our standards
are but impositions.  We are
just leaves in the stream.

The top two photos are of the Missouri River at Jefferson City, Missouri. River levels have been fluctuating at or above flood stage for several weeks. It’s latest crest was yesterday, at 31.8 feet, and was the “ninth largest flood” for this area. This view is of North Jefferson City. It lies within city limits and is across the river (and in another county) from the largest portion of the state capital. It’s predominantly farmland (with some homes) and industrial, and is the location of the city’s airport. The area was evacuated a couple of days ago, and the airport was closed. It was once known as Cedar City, but the flood of 1993 wiped out the small community that existed there, leaving just a couple of homes. Just past the bridge markings in the photo is Noren Access, a city park that includes a 100 foot-long boat ramp. The top of the ramp is about 6 feet underwater. Beyond the submerged ramp is a levee (barely showing behind the trees) that extends for miles and was breached, leaving a 30-40 foot gap. The flat level of water in the distance is a farm field that would be dry, if not for the high water.

Looking back through my photos, it seems I’m only drawn to photograph this section of the river during exceptional conditions, but they show that farm field in the background. Below is a photo of the ice choked river of winter, with a level 25 feet lower and the full boat ramp visible. Below that is an example of the heavy fog that can swallow the river, at times. The last photo is looking across the river as kayakers stop for a rest and check-in during the “Missouri American Water MR340,” an annual 340 mile endurance race that is paddled from Kansas City to St. Charles (near St. Louis) and must be completed within 88 hours.

The bridge markings do not indicate depth. They indicate clearance, as the river is open to barge traffic during shipping season. The river is dredged on a regular basis to maintain a channel with a minimum depth of 9 feet, but flood stage for this section is 23 feet. At that point there is minor flooding along Wears Creek, which extends into the city from the river and past light industry and a couple of homes. The State Capitol and downtown are elevated, but this is a hilly city, and during this flood many of the low-lying parking lots used by state employees were underwater.

We have our extremes. Last week it was tornadoes. For the past month it’s been flooding, with the current levels the highest I’ve seen in my 6 years here. 2013 was pretty close, but the state experienced a drought that crippled farmers just a year before. That’s Missouri.

Graph found at National Weather Service.
(Clicking on each photo will open a tab with a larger view.)

Ken G.

Poetry and Cars ~ haibun

1932 Buick Sedan

Poetry and Cars

After a fairly busy weekend, I’m trying to catch-up on poetry on blogs I follow and responses to prompts from NaPoWriMo.net, all the way back to Friday. I think I might be into Saturday evening at this point (late afternoon Monday). Yeah, I might catch up by tomorrow evening!

Saturday was spent at the Unbound Book Festival, where I attended readings by several poets, which inspired a poem of my own for Saturday. So far, I’ve been able to keep up with a poem-a-day for April, meeting the NaPoWriMo prompt more often than I expected. Of course, some of my responses rely on my own definition of the prompt! Today’s poem was an ekphrasis, inspired by a watercolor I acquired last year.

reading and writing
thirty days of poetry
what could be better

Yesterday was spent at Forest Park, in St. Louis, where we attended a car show, the 2019 Concourse d’Elegance, which is held every Easter Sunday. There were several hundred classic cars from 1917 to the late 1970s. Close by in the park was an area that probably had twice as many cars – street rods of all imagined modifications. One of the last cars we viewed at the Concourse was a 1959 Alfa Romeo Gulietta Spider with 411,000 miles on it, shown by the original owner. It was a beautiful, sunny day, with a lot of people in attendance, so it was hard to get the photos I wanted.

elegance displayed
in finely crafted metal
by its proud owners
man’s obsession with machine
glittering under the sun

1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1950 Mercury Coupe

1948 Willys Jeepster

1955 Pontiac Star Chief

1959 Alpfa Romeo Gulietta Spider

(click images for larger view in new tab)

Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder

Bubbles trailing behind me
rise to the surface,
telling those above where I was,
not where I am, as I drift along
the bottom of the river around me.
An inner peace at being an element of
the wonder that surrounds me balances
with a heightened awareness
of the perils that could arise.
Two kicks of my fins take me
around an approaching boulder,
and my eyes return to the rocky bottom.
This man’s treasure could be
a clay bottle lodged between rocks
or a dropped anchor, its rope trailing
in the current. My eyes are drawn
to another set of eyes seeming to peer
at me from the gravel. As I grab
a nearby boulder, the current swings
my body around, and I face upstream,
reaching to brush away the gravel
that hinders those peering eyes. A block
of wood appears, carved to serve shipboard
a century earlier. A time capsule, of sorts,
the deadeye is now my connection
to the past and a solid connection
to this experience. Those days behind me,
that simple block of wood
takes me back, every time I see it.

The prompt for NaPoWriMo.net Day 12 is to “write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it.”

From 1981 to 1998, I enjoyed drift diving in the Niagara River at depths of 10 to 40 feet, ever watchful for treasures that some people wouldn’t look at twice. My finds included clay pipes, many glass and clay bottles (some as old as the 1870s), small boat anchors, outboard motors, a 300 pound ship’s anchor, a flintlock musket (bent and rusted beyond repair), and the ship’s triple deadeye described in this poem.

The items in this photo are:
“glob top” beer bottle – E. Gentsch & Co., Buffalo, NY
clay spring water bottle – J. Friedrich, Frankfurt
stoneware Lemon Beer bottle – J. Chester
triple deadeye
click image for larger view in new tab)


The Advantage of Height ~ haibun

The Advantage of Height

While kayaking three weeks ago, I was able to take photos of some Great Horned Owls, a parent and two hatchlings. I returned yesterday, and the fledglings are much bigger. Left to themselves while the adult was off hunting, both birds watched intently as I sat below, taking photos. As a hazy morning gave way to blue skies, several small fishing boats passed by, their owners more intent on what lay below.

high above the stream
ever watchful in their nest
young owls looking down
fishermen pass, unaware
as they drift with the current

(click images to see larger view in new tab)

Ken G.

rays of morning sun ~ haiku

beauty at sunrise
dawning of life’s renewal
pink cherry blossoms
sign of abundant blessings
rewarding these humble eyes

rays of morning sun
shining on cherry blossoms
contentment in pink

My haiku is a response to the  challenge for
Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #73 Poetry Archive … cherry blossom
is to write a new poem inspired by one from our own archive.
The tanka (in blue) was written as a response to Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #53
and  Basho’s Blossoms at Carpe Diem’s Tanka Splendor.