Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ice on the river

There has been a coat of snow on the river, making it white. The snow, of course, is resting on a thin layer of ice that has formed during the past couple weeks. It's been pretty cold.

But nothing like I remember from my days with Ohio Barge Line and Midwest Towing. I guess the coldest place I've ever been is up on the Illinois River on the Midwest boats. But when it comes to ice, I recall going down the Ohio on one of the OBL boats - Steel Something, I don't recall which - and pushing through thick ice.

One time we were down around Kenova, Ky, where there is a "boat store." This is a place where towboats can get fuel and water, gorceries and other things needed. We were southbound for New Orleans and the store boat couldn't come out to us because the ice was too thick. So our captain told us to simply disconnect the towboat from our tow of barges and he ran the boat over to the shore to pick up our supplies and to fuel. He left the barges right out in the river! The ice was so thick they only moved a few yards while we left them.

On the towboats the ice made a lot of noise rubbing along the sides and bottom of the boat as we pushed through. It is always pretty noisey on a towboat, with the huge engines running. But the ice was different and made it hard to sleep. Also, while I'm on the subject of ice on the river: it sure was hard putting barges together when there was ice in between them. We had to take long poles and push out the individual chuncks of ice so that we could wire the barges into a tow. All this was done in pretty cold conditions.

Can't say as I miss that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Riverside beauty

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Memory of last summer

Here I am, grinning at a pink flamingo I found among the litter along the west bank of the river last summer. Just happened to come across this photo and thought I'd post it.

Now, in the cold, gray, snowy days of January, it's nice to remember what a wonderful summer we had. It really was exceptional.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blue Heron in January

Since it got cold, I haven't been out on the river much. Well, not at all. But I like to go down there near it, so after I finish with my gym workout at Stansbury Hall, I walk the rail-trail home, and these days, it's dark.

Last night, across the Decker's Creek bridge near Oliverio's Restaurant, I stopped in a particularly dark spot (the better to see by) and there I saw a blue heron walking through the water. I dare say that most people would not have seen it. This happens to me a lot around the river. It wants me to see things, and I do. The heron is so elegant, its long neck moving forward first, then its legs, in a kind of dance through the cold, dark water. Solitary, silent, standing in the ancient, endless water.

The river is beautifuly at night. It seems like, what? I can't really describe it: like a being of some sort, its current and length to the Gulf, and fish and herons, and somewhere, pushing barges, a tow boat headed to Baton Rouge, and the cook is washing the dishes and the pilot listens to a radio as he steers.

Here's a movie of one of our last trash hauls. Maureen, first mate, is cleaning up the Monongahela Monitor.
video