As the summer solstice coincides with the June rise, the Mississippi River is completing responsibilities to the living world right before my eyes. The crest has receded and exposed the beautiful sandbars, which are freshly deposited by mass and density to create a delta oasis. Grassy knolls grow out of the sand like manicured afros giving deer and their fawns fresh produce. Black birds, woodpeckers, and warblers hijack the canopy of the trees feasting on mosquitoes, mayflies, and cicadas. The Least Terns occupy every island fishing for a mate laying three small speckled eggs directly on the sand. All species of turtles from red ears to painted, Mississippi maps to muds, are frantically copulating and laying eggs nightly in the beautiful soft sand. Snakes, water birds, fox, coyotes, rodents, hawks, eagles all benefit – some by scavenging eggs , some by feasting on the hatchlings. It doesn’t hurt the booming turtle population and it’s good lean protein needed for small mammals to produce milk for their young.
The cycles of life continue….
The Mighty Quapaws started our summer with the www.Rivergator.org expedition from Caruthersville to Memphis. We explored many back channels which develops during high water and even managed to paddle fifty two miles in one day rarely venturing on the main channel. A commercial fisherman shared his catch, which gave us a night of “willow steam-smoked catfish.”
We also had the honor of hosting the Bike and Build crew. We had great food donated by the town while signing River Citizens from across the country.
We even found time to enter the newest canoe to our fleet , the Grasshopper, in the Memphis Canoe and Kayak race where we set our personnel best at nineteen minutes and three seconds. The Grashopper was the second fastest canoe on the water that day! It’s always a wonderful day of paddlers and passion.
We finished the month of June with a Rivergator trip from Greenville to Vicksburg. The weather was immaculate and so was the food. We had Mighty Quapaw staples: willow steam-smoke catfish, barbecue ribs, and lamb chop stew. It doesn’t get any better than that. We even had the pleasure of watching a sea-plane land on the Mississippi River.
Through our stewardship to the Mississippi River, we have introduced many from across the country forming relationships for life. The River is so giving. It feeds us and moves our souls in passionate ways giving us the fuel to continue our quest of preserving and protecting the most valuable resource of our country for generations to come.
What a life. Become a river citizen today at www.1mississippi.org.
– Mark River
Photos by John Ruskey