LMRD 812 ~ Lower Mississippi River Dispatch"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" ~~~Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020~~~
A couple of wood duck drakes? Driftwood and River pose as wood ducks, which like all avian males
like "letting their hair down" -- with bright shiny colors and dramatic posturing!
Advance Note: If you missed MPB radio program about dugout canoes on Sunday, on the Mississippi Arts Hour, you can listen in here:http://msartshour.mpbonline.org/episodes/the-mississippi-arts-hour-john-ruskie ~~~Thanks Melody Thortis and the Mississippi Arts Commission!~~~
Grandfather is a Duck!
Thanks to friend, naturalist and fellow paddler-artist, Robin Whitfield, we have a design for Grandfather Cypress!
The Vote is in: Last issue we sent out 25 choices for the design of Grandfather Cypress, our 170 year old cypress tree log that is sitting next to Quapaw Canoe Company on the banks of the Sunflower River in downtown Clarksdale. I received votes by email, text, FB messages, and phone calls! English adventurer Emma Karembo Cornthwaite was the last email, and my father Gary "Gare-Bear" Ruskey-Halsey last phone call -- he actually called in live, as we were about to complete vote, which you can watch on FB by clicking here: BEAM episode#4
Thank you all for your thoughtful submissions, and generosity in sharing. This is what the dugout canoe carving tradition is all about -- community spirit. I have printed and placed all designs in a 3-ring binder; we will use this portfolio as inspiration as we continue along the journey.
We will incorporate the spirit of the new Mississippi flag (as Judy Belue asked) and also the spirit in Dan Weibe's poetic input:
"The Alpha and the Omega. The Yin and the Yang. Good and Evil. Infinity too. All the Old Gang. A canoe for all times come before and those times in the future."
The spirit of "the Swimmers" and the "Green Man" will be there. The Crocodile, the Raccoon, the Whale, The Buck Deer, the Laying Deer, the Beaver, the Loon, the Fish, the Old Man, the Dragon, the Cow-noe, the Water Turkey, the Snake, the Owl, the Spiral. All will be in the new dugout.
You all are now part of the canoe! Thank you for joining us in this journey, and sharing your dreams and visions.
Also -- Abraham's name "Water Bird" got a lot of response, so "Water Bird" will be in the name -- and the spirit!
In total, 312 of you readers responded, and Robin's Drake Wood Duck got the most votes!
Robin Whitfield, artist, paddler, naturalist, conservationist: "I had a great time sitting with grandfather Cypress yesterday. I saw a wood duck immediately and couldn't go beyond that. I tried. I can just see it bobbing in the river with beauty and confidence like the wood duck drake. Comfortable on both land and water. I saw sister Poke Berry on the Hill up from grandfather Cypress. I enjoyed using her colorful berry ink in the Canoe design. We had an awesome time paddling the Sunflower while the sinking sun painted all the trees with golden light. We saw several deer, Asian carp and lots of sparrows."
2nd most voted for: Moon Goddess Canoe
2nd most voted was Moon Goddess Canoe, created by my older sister, Lorraine DeAndrea, artist, gardner, wife & partner of the American sculptor, John DeAndrea!
I liked Lexy Canoe:
Lexy Canoe did not receive many votes, but this one was my personal favorite, for its rounded qualities harmonious with the shape of the ends of the log, and because it would be fun to carve.
Giddy Canoe -- 9 votes
Water Bird (Abie) Canoe -- 15 votes
Orrie (Raccoon) Canoe -- 10 votes
Solly Canoe -- 11 votes
Quapaw Laying Deer Canoe -- 3 votes
Moon Goddess Canoe -- 31 votes
Wood Duck Canoe -- 59 votes
Old Man River Canoe -- 13 votes
Fish Canoe -- 2 votes
Buck Deer Canoe -- 30 votes
Owl Canoe -- 16 votes
Lexy Canoe -- 9 votes
Beaver Canoe -- 14 votes
Whale Canoe -- 29 votes
Dragon Canoe -- 3 votes
The Cownoe -- 4 votes
Water Turkey Canoe -- 12 votes
River Swimmers Canoe -- 7 votes
New Directions Canoe -- 6 votes
The Alpha and the Omega Canoe -- 3 votes
Crocodile Canoe -- 9 votes
Green Man Canoe -- 13 votes
Spiral Pattern Canoe -- 8 votes
Snake or Salamander Canoe -- 4 votes
= 312 votes total
Notes (and photos) from Canoe Drawings:
The first 4 choices come from our good friend Dahveed Benson, Voyageur Canoe Camp director, Colorado Springs School history teacher, youth expedition leader, and loving father of 4 boys: "The Benson boys had a great afternoon imagining and drawing dugouts - Thank you all so much for sending this fun challenge out! Here is a pdf of their work and a few pictures of the process. good health, peace, and positive vibes to you all, Dahveed"
1) Giddy (Crocodile) Canoe
2) Water Bird (Abie) Canoe
3) Orrie (Raccoon) Canoe
4) Solly (Loon) Canoe
5) Quapaw Laying Deer Canoe
Chris Lese, Marquette University High School: "Here is my sketch for your canoe project. I searched online for Quapaw influences and saw a tea pot that I imagined floating down the rivers and this made me smile. This was really fun to sketch through ideas and see other's creations."
6) Moon Goddess Canoe
Lorraine DeAndrea, artist, gardner, wife & partner of the American sculptor, John DeAndrea: "Very rudimentary Sketch... Moon Goddess Canoe?" (Lorraine is also my oldest sister!)
7) Wood Duck Canoe
Robin Whitfield, artist, paddler, naturalist, conservationist: "I had a great time sitting with grandfather Cypress yesterday. I saw a wood duck immediately and couldn't go beyond that. I tried. I can just see it bobbing in the river with beauty and confidence
like the wood duck drake. Comfortable on both land and water. I saw sister Poke Berry on the Hill up from grandfather Cypress. I enjoyed using her colorful berry ink in the Canoe design. We had an awesome time paddling the Sunflower while the sinking sun painted all the trees with golden light. We saw several deer, Asian carp and lots of sparrows."
8) Old Man River Canoe (Green Man Canoe?)
Kathy Dulaney: "The bow of the canoe could be the face of an old man with beard and hair flowing back into the body of the canoe. The grooves of the beard and hair would flow along the sides turning into grooves similar to the trunk of a cypress tree, then smoothing out and ending with three cypress knees at the stern. A rough sketch is attached. Love the work you do with and for the river. Thank you."
9) Fish Canoe
Rambling Steve Gardner, musician, photographer, creative wildman extraordinaire: this is "Miz Sally and Big Steve in a Fish Canoe. Oh, it is what I feel from here for sure! Set it free and let it swim! All the best! And save me a dry spot on the sand bar! Wishes for safe travels and smooth water!"
10) Buck Deer Canoe
John Ruskey, river guide, canoe carver: An 8-point Buck Deer visited me while i was sitting quietly sketching one morning in the heat of August. We had a conversation, a sharing of buck snorts. He wanted to leap across the Sunflower near where i sat, but i didn't want him to. After a few minutes he turned tail and fled back through small woods below Clakrsdale jail. I am fairly certain this was a real experience, but i also feel the this was the spirit of Grandfather Cypress speaking to me."
11) Owl Canoe
"I saw a great horned owl across the river -- Owl Canoe?"
12) Lexy Canoe
"Craig's dog Lexy came for a visit. Lexy is on her last legs in life. She is 77 years old (12 years old in human years). She belongs to our good neighbor, Craig Hatchett, of Sunflower Laundry, which he operates with his father across the street from the Quapaw Canoe Company. They are an example of a great father-son relationship."
13) Beaver Canoe
"My Daddy, Gary Ruskey-Halsey, retired farmer, housebuilder, also woodcarver and furniture builder, and loving, devoted husband to my mother, visited, and saw a beaver -- Beaver Canoe?"
14) Whale Canoe
Spanish photographer Magdalena Solé saw a canoe in the shape of a whale -- "It will be powerful and wise..." Note: Ms. Solé is based in New York City. Her photographic impulses have taken her across the world—from Cuba, to Japan, to China, to Brazil, to Burma, to the Mississippi Delta, anywhere she goes she's most drawn to the people and places on the margins.
Other Canoe Spirit Sharings:
Spirit Voices -- "Danny V" Veshinski: "I read your recent dispatch and it reminded me of a song by Paul Simon titled “Spirit Voices.” I thought I’d share a link for you to enjoy!"
"Wishing you well and excited to see the spirit within the canoe come to form!"
Poem of the Woodcarver -- dynamic educator and father, Scott Shirey: shared a Chuang Tzu poem that captures the very same "River under River" spirit we are searching for as canoe carvers, (and a similar spirtual practice -- fasting for clarity):
Poem of the Woodcarver
Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”
Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.
“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.
“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”
"Poem of the Woodcarver" by Chuang Tzu, from The Way of Chuang Tzu, by Thomas Merton. © New Directions, 1965.
New Mississippi State Flag:
We're very proud of the new Mississippi State Flag. Picutured above is our own personalized version, which we'll be flying high from our flagpole -- featuring the 17 recognized religions as reflected by the 17 fish and 17 magnolia blossoms... Below is the one voted in Nov 3rd, 2020
Our new official state flag! Paddles Up Mississippi! We love it! Voted in Nov 3, 2020. Whooo-Whooop!
Vote to be counted during live BEAM session, Wed, Nov 18, 3-4pmCST
"Río Abajo Río: Carving Out the River Within"
BEAM = Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi
Lower Mississippi River Foundation is dedicated to promoting stewardship of the Lower and Middle Mississippi River through deep engagement.
Mississippi Arts Commission invests in our state’s makers through a variety of grant programs supporting nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and individual artists. Through the arts, diverse communities of all sizes can better identify shared values, create vibrant public spaces, and enhance the effectiveness of schools. The arts also attract visitors who leave with a strong, positive image of Mississippi. Fostering excellence in the arts provides the inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens.
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art inspires discovery, imagination, and community-building on the Gulf Coast and beyond through programs, exhibitions, and outreach; and embodies Walter Anderson’s vision for societies in harmony with their environments. "Our mission is to empower lifelong curiosity and connection to the natural world through the art of Walter Anderson and kindred artists."
1Mississippi River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at www.1Mississippi.org. 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"
Balance, Diversity, Democracy
Quapaw Canoe Company core values are balance, diversity, and democracy, which all derive from our experience paddling big canoes on the big waters of North America. Balance is exemplified by the passage of our canoes. Everything we do is about keeping even keel. To do otherwise is dangerous to our health and well-being. Pandemic and police brutality are symptoms of the imbalance we seek to counteract in our services and work as canoe builders, guides & outfitters. Other imbalances include species loss, global warming, and loss of wild places. Diversity for us includes all peoples and all creatures great and small. We have always created equal access for all. Our staff reflects our regional demographics, around 60% Black and 40% White. Since 1998 we have made it our mission to make sure all communities found along the Lower Mississippi River enjoy equal access to the wonders of the big river, and the life changing experience of the wilderness. Our adventures practice the best qualities of Democracy. Everyone in the big canoe sets aside their differences and paddles together for the good of the whole. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inherent in life is the right to breathe clean air, the right to drink clean water, the right to eat good food, and the right to live in healthy shelter, in healthy communities.