Running In The River Not Running

I just remembered I did not post a Work Release post for June. I’ll just have to let it go. Not that I haven’t been working, of course. I’ll give you instead some things I’ve been working on this week.

This is part of a mural near the farmer’s market in Mercyburg. I remember when I first moved here there was no street art at all. My friend Bella hosted a weekly photo challenge for bloggers like me (and for bloggers unlike me). For the weeks in which we were challenged to photograph street art I’d have to cheat and offer photos of old advertisements or funky gas meters. We just didn’t have any art on our streets. Now we do and there’s no one to challenge me. For all the weeks I cheated, here’s my belated submission.

For scale, notice the white chicken is painted over doors. Those are standard-size doors. If I were to walk through them my head would clear somewhere near mid-breast.And yes, it bugs the crap out of me that an air conditioner obscures the other chicken. The big fellow on the right is making Niloak pottery. Niloak is kaolin spelled backwards. Kaolin is the clay. That swirly pattern in the pottery is made with kaolin clay from the local soil. It was all the rage here in the early 1900s. The clay also makes the ground swirl when the water table rises and falls, which is why my house has so many cracks in it. We sort of float and sink by varying inches on top of the expansive soil as the seasons change.

Niloak pottery is still a big deal here. Folks still collect it, as do collectors around the world. Production ceased in the 1950s but there is still plenty of vintage Niloak in circulation. Pieces like the ones shown on the mural sell for hundreds to thousands. The house where the famous potter lived is still standing nearby, but just barely. It needs to either be torn down or restored but nothing has been done for far too long because it contains the only fireplace mantel on the planet inlaid with Niloak pottery tiles. The heirs of the house are letting the house rot around the famous fireplace. I don’t know why. Each time I pass the old house on a run I think to myself it would make a glorious yoga studio. But it’s too far gone. If the precious mantel isn’t removed soon, Nature is going to reclaim it. I’ve tried to like it (the pottery). I just don’t. But I once spent months trying on new names by scrambling the letters of other words/names, so I do appreciate the backwards moniker.

The mural is a nice feature for the new farmer’s market, though. The month of July is my vegan anniversary. My veg-aversary. I made it one year. No meat. No fish. No dairy. No eggs. Only plants. For a year. I celebrated at the farmer’s market with local heirloom tomatoes instead of cake. I checked to see if there was a Hallmark card for veg-aversaries. Nope. But I did find this Happy Veganniverary video.

Happy body time to me.

Photo Jul 03, 4 56 02 PM
I’m sorry, legs.  I value you.

My self-portrait this week is an apology to my legs. I said something unkind about my legs. I immediately regretted it and wanted to take it back but I know my legs heard me. Instead of taking it back I had to apologize. My legs have done nothing wrong. I’m lucky to have them. They are still supporting me after all these years. They continue to move me in grace and power despite my callousness remarks. You’d think after deliberately practicing kindness toward my legs I wouldn’t still struggle with abusive thoughts or words. But I do. Sometimes I can still be a Mean Girl, usually when making comparisons. I considered how it might change my habits if I made a photographic apology every time I had an ugly thought about my body; my legs in this instance but all of my body. Merciful unto my legs. Merciful unto me.

Photo Jul 04, 8 48 33 AM

On Independence Day I took my legs for a run along the river. My legs took me. Ironically, I found some leg bones on the beach. I assume they were left by picnickers. I also assume this was once a cow. This is definitely in a first among the collective items of things I’ve found while running, a dead cow.

Photo Jul 04, 8 33 24 AM

So you can better tell how large a bone it is, that small piece of a blue debris is about the size of a quarter. Those are my dogs’s paw prints on either side, which are similar in circumference to a standard coffee mug.

Photo Jul 04, 8 33 44 AM

Not a happy body time for that cow.

When the river is low, and it is very low this summer, you can walk or run in the dry river bed. This is the only un-dammed rock bottom river left in the state. We are not supposed to drive on it with ATVs and such but we can walk it or run it. My dog loves this. Trails emerge like magic. The grassy stuff grows up on either side of the dry bed where the water is still running and we can walk or run through on higher ground. So it’s fun to say we went for a run in the river, as opposed to by the river.

Photo Jul 05, 10 16 23 AM
Running in the river

This is the view when I pan to the left of the “trail” shown above. What you can’t tell from his receding backside is that El Doggo pulled a turtle out of this pool and carried it around for a while. He dropped it once he figured out he couldn’t munch through the turtle armor. I made sure he/she was right side up and then let the turtle lie. I figured the snatch and grab of dog jaws was enough trauma for one day.

Photo Jul 04, 9 26 20 AM (1)
Bridge Over Turtled Water

We usually end up wading as well, since the riverbed isn’t this low everywhere. It varies from a puddle to knee-deep in places such as these.

Photo Jul 04, 9 07 00 AM
Photo Jul 04, 8 41 53 AM (1)
Not a puddle

But you never know what you’ll find. Like this old railroad track with the ties still attached. We couldn’t figure it out how it got here since the the nearest rail crossing is downstream from here.  Again, this is the bottom of the river bed, so all of this is normally hidden under water.

Photo Jul 04, 8 44 18 AM

Photo Jul 04, 8 45 23 AM

At one point we did find the carcass of a cow which was not related to the bone we found on the beach. Part of the river borders local free-range cattle farms. It was probably a calf who came down to the river and got stuck in the mud. Luckily there there no stink. The flesh was long gone. It must have made the fish fat. We encountered only bones and hide. I did not take a photo because the scene was too gruesome even in an advanced stage of decomposition. Also because I was too busy trying to keep my dog from violating the cow corpse. Not a happy body time for this cow either.

So we need rain, as you can see, but there are advantages to the dry season. We get to go running in rivers not running.

Happy body time to you all,

— Mercy



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