Herons & Otters: February is “Sunflower River Month”

A Blue Heron along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A Blue Heron along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

By DRIFTWOOD JOHNNIE

Sat, Feb 19th @ 12noon — Meeting for Friends of the Sunflower River  — Open to the public — at Quapaw Canoe Company — Street level 3rd & Sunflower Avenue in downtown Clarksdale

Great Blue Heron

On a recent February Delta Day as I was walking along the banks of the Sunflower River with the sun rising over Winkle Paints and a choral of songbirds filling the air on this pleasantly warm morning I realized I was being watched by a Great Blue Heron standing on the opposite bank, but he didn’t fly away as they usually do.  Then I realized that I had the sun at my back and he must have been blinded by the light. And so I was able to walk on up close enough to get a good view of all the incredible colors of the fine feathers splashing down his breast and highlighting his wings, he had one foot pulled up, and his perfect stance and position was inspiring.  If only I could find such poise!  You could study yoga for years and not master the “Heron Pose!”

River Otter

Close by the Heron another motion caught my eye — a shiny black shape rolling in the warm leaves & dried grasses, his wet fur slicked down and accentuating his curvy shape, long, narrow, with a skinny tail, it was a River Otter rolling in the sunlight maybe 3 paces upstream of the Heron.  The Heron seemed completely un perturbed as the Otter rolled back and forth and rubbed its wet black nose on the dried weeds, and playfully humped his  back and then stretched out and fell asleep.  I watched for the longest time.  Then walked away to find my camera.  When I came back he was still asleep.  Over the riverbank a couple of joggers ran by on the Sunflower River Road which was repaved last year and then closed to vehicular traffic.  An elderly couple walked along slowly looking at everything.  Flocks of Blackbirds crossed over the trees downstream towards the MLK Bridge, above could be seen v-lines of snow geese and their endless crying.  The Heron and the Otter had the river to themselves, they were oblivious to any other activity, and no one else noticed them.  Doesn’t this sound like the kind of place you have to travel a long ways to go to to find & enjoy?  Well, guess, what, alls you got to do is walk out the door and stroll down the street to the nearest access point, drop down the riverbank and enjoy it for yourself.

An Otter along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

An Otter along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Did you know there are now benches along the Sunflower River?

A bench along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A bench along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Did you know there are now picnic tables along the Sunflower River?

A picnic table waiting for visitors along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A picnic table waiting for visitors along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Did you know you can ride your bike along the Sunflower River?

(In fact this is the ONLY place along the entire 250 mile length of the river where this is possible)

Did you know you now have a place in the middle of your city where you can walk without the fear of being run over by a passing car?

More treasured spots in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Explore! Enjoy!

More treasured spots in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Explore! Enjoy!

Okay, but is it safe to paddle on the Sunflower River?  Ask my 3 year old daughter Emma-Lou: She says its okay, but wear a life-jacket!  Recent paddlers on the Sunflower River came from Washington State and Memphis.  The wildlife on the Eagle’s Nest to Clarksdale run has been spectacular!

Recent walkers on the Sunflower River Park Walk included a visiting couple from Sevilla Spain, a man from South Africa, lots of Clarksdale youth, several local couples, several pairs of ladies out walking, some runners, a father & son on motorcycles (this is illegal) an ATV (illegal), and all of the students who arrived this week as part of Chandler Griffin’s Barefoot Film Workshop.

Along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, MS

Along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, MS

If you see someone on a motorized vehicle, be it a motorcycle, ATV, Dunebuggy, or 4WD, call the Clarksdale Police — 621-8151 — they will send a patrolman to enforce the new law: No Motorized Vehicles allowed on the Nell G. Smith River Walk & Sunflower River Park!

Where is this sign? (Answer below:)

At the corner of Riverside
&
Nell. G. Smith River Walk

February is Sunflower River Month!

Sat, Feb 19th @ 12noon — Meeting for Friends of the Sunflower River
at Quapaw Canoe Company — Street level 3rd & Sunflower Ave.
In downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi

Schedule for Saturday, February 19, 2011:

12noon – 2pm General Annual Membership Meeting of the Friends of the Sunflower River Including a presentation from the Big Cypress Outdoor Club about the Yalobusha, Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers and the “Great Island of Greenwood, Mississippi!”  Also: the Coldwater Blueway.  Also: The Mississippi Water Trail Association.  Update from Yazoo Water Management District.  See below for entire agenda.

Afterwards, anyone interested in creating water trails in the Mississippi Delta is welcome to join the first organizational meeting of:

2pm – 4pm  Yazoo Basin Water Trails Meeting — to identify waterways in the Yazoo River Basin and make recommendations for the State of Mississippi Water Trails Association.

For more info contact: John Ruskey [email protected] or 662-902-7841

Upcoming for Spring 2011:

February 26-27: Lucy’s Revenge
Overnight on the Sunflower River with Keith Plunkett.  Lucy’s Revenge is a project in memory of Lucy Plunkett to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research and support services while showcasing Mississippi’s waterways. All donations go directly to the Mississippi Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  Sponsored & hosted by the Friends of the Sunflower River.  Do you want to join in on this overnight adventure & help support this worthy cause?  Contact [email protected] for details.

TBA: Hushpuckena Expedition
Expedition down the strange Sunflower River tributary.  The Hushpuckena was historically formed by the overflowing of De Soto Lake.  Today it drains everything between the Mississippi River levee and the Sunflower River from Farrell to Shelby.  Born of springs & runoff around Rena Lara, the Hushpuckena meanders under Hwy 1 downstream south through Walnut Grove, Alligator (via Annis Brake Bayou), Duncan, and then cuts East at Hushpuckena under Hwy 61 to join the Sunflower River in the wilds between Shelby & Parchman.  The head of navigation of the Sunflower River was considered to be at this confluence, downstream of which the Sunflower becomes the “Big Sunflower.”

March 5-6: Leave No Trace
Valuable training for Friends of the Sunflower River!  Leave No Trace is for individuals who love the land. The trainer course introduces the ideas and principles of Leave No Trace and the teaches the importance of taking a personal role in preserving the outdoor experience for future generations.  Learn the Seven Leave No Trace Principles and teach them to others.  Legendary Mississippi painter Robin Whitfield explores the waterways of the Delta & Hill Country and paints from the cockpit of her kayak.  Exhibition opening TBA.  Artist’s Retreat TBA.

TBA: Exhibition of Paintings – Robin Whitfield
Legendary Mississippi painter Robin Whitfield explores the waterways of the Delta & Hill Country and paints from the cockpit of her kayak.  Exhibition opening TBA.  Artist’s Retreat TBA.

April 14-17: Juke Joint Festival
Quapaw Canoe Company will be offering two canoeing & kayaking activities during the long weekend of Juke Joint Festival: 1) Paddling on the Sunflower River and 2) Canoe-Carving Workshop.  Both will take place all day 9-4pm every day Thursday April 14 – Sunday April 17.  Location: Street level 3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale.

All Year: 1Mississippi River Citizen Campaign!
We have become the headquarters for the Southern Region 1Mississippi Campaign.  You already are a River Citizen if you are reading this!  Sign up with John Ruskey, or go to www.1Mississippi.net and do it online.  See exhibit at Quapaw Canoe Company.

Please Remember — 20% off any rentals of canoes, kayaks or SUPs  for Friends of the Sunflower River in current good standing!!!

AGENDA:
5th General Annual Membership Meeting
of the Friends of the Sunflower River

When: Saturday, February 19th, 12noon – 2pm

Where: Quapaw Canoe Company 289 Sunflower Avenue in Downtown Clarksdale (3rd & Sunflower)

4 Presentations:
1) Big Cypress Outdoor Club about the Yalobusha, Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers and the Great Island of Greenwood, Mississippi
2) The Coldwater Blueway about the establishment of the Coldwater River Blueway
1.    Mississippi Water Trail Association
4) Yazoo Water Management District

Upcoming:
Adopt a Ramp
Adopt-a-Park
Walk the Walk
Spring Cleanup
The Weir

Recap:
Stormwater Drainage in downtown Clarksdale
Nonprofit status
Sunflower Riverwalk repaving, picnic benches & tables
Any other business brought up before group

February is Friends of the Sunflower River Month!

20% off any rentals of canoes, kayaks or SUPs  for Friends of the Sunflower River in current good standing!!!


Special Thanks to Clarksdale Mayor Henry Espy & Commissioners Buster Moton, Grady Palmer, Bo Plunk and Ed Seals for greatly improving life in downtown Clarksdale with the renovation of the Sunflower River Walk.

Thank you Mac Crank for your tireless effort in pulling everything together!


Friends of the Delta Bohemian®

  • Quapaw Canoe Company - Schedule your adventure on the Mississippi River with the Mighty Quapaws in Clarksdale or Helena
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Comments

  1. John, thanks for the Friends of the Sunflower meeting today. Your place looks fantastic.
    McKee

  2. I am sad we missed it! Had business in Oxford… I hope there was a good turnout!

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