Sunflower River Paddle
It’s an early Spring morning as I launch my Grumnan canoe below the bridge at Lee Drive. A local friend drives by slowly, examining my intentions, while showing off his bounty of the day a turkey in his truck bed. The waters up and flowing swiftly, as I congradulate him on his Delta turkey and he wishes me well on my journey. The weathers warm and everything’s at blooming speed. The beautiful greens in the trees and the birds are communicating at high tunes. I take a couple paddle strokes, readjust my angle, and float into the first bend. Tall reeds of river grass blanket the cut-banks, while turtles are dropping off logs simultaneously. White-tail deer get spooked from their grass beds, running off towards the nearby soybean field.
Trees start to appear as I get closer to the residential neighborhoods. A friend has his fishing poles side by side along the shoreline, but he is nowhere to be found. The river bends right as the old and young cypress are scattered throughout the channel. Some are leaning at a 30 degree angle, some are dead center, but beautiful and unique in every way. Low lying branches are littered with harmless water snakes fresh from hibernation enjoying the heat from the sun. The mudbanks have tracts of raccoon, beaver, and otter. Beaver scent mounds are strategically placed along the shore. A curious red fox runs in the thicket, while occasionally stopping to examine me. Wood ducks are pairing up looking for the best tree to nest. The female has to be careful, she has to consider a nice landing spot for her chicks first leap of faith.
The backyards and neighborhoods get closer to the waters edge as I get close to town. You can hear kids playing in the nearby streets. Gar fish suspend themselves showing their enchanting arrangements of spots. A large cottonmouth sunbaths on a huge beaver hut. The sun is peeping through the canopy as I get close to the Soldier’s Field. I think about how fortunate it is to have a river flow through your downtown area. How it attracts the birds and keeps wildlife apart of our everyday lives. How it brings calmness and peace to myself and my Griot Arts kids. How it keeps the blue herons around. How it makes me feel when the beavers swim upstream first thing in the morning. Become a River Citizen and a friend of the Sunflower River and help keep America’s most endangered river healthy and clean. Mark River- 1Mississippi Outreach Assistant