I’ve taken all my herbs and pills, taken care of all the end of day tasks, now relaxing on my mountain of pillows, listening to a rowdy showdown between two owls–some kind of owl that lives in these Western Alabama woods. Its call falls somewhere in between the Great Horned and the Barred Owl pattern, more toward Barred: “who-HOOoo-oooo….” so much juiciness in owl appreciation.
And I do appreciate them very much. I also appreciate crickets, and tree frogs, and katydids, and other nocturnal music makers to whom I have not been formally introduced.
Tonight in Alabama, near Tuscaloosa, in this superb Army Corps of Engineers campground upstream from the more famous Tombigbee Waterway projects, this artful wielding of human power over nature seems poignant. If not for the extreme interference with the natural order of things to suit a human need to get coal down the river in barges to Mobile and the Gulf of Mexico, I’d be perched on the side of a ravine that was either dry or full of a raging river, I don’t know which. As it is now, I’m floating on a sky island in a mostly placid freshwater sea, punctuated by the silence of the pontoon boats fishing around in the coves, and the boom of the barges as they blow their horn for the locks. There is a locks here with a height differential of 500 ft. Think of it! Some human thought it up that if you put a ship into a dry bathtub, then add water, your ship will float to the top, no matter whether the top is 2″ or 200 feet, doesn’t matter. Thus was born the art of transporting shipping goods across dry land, using rivers instead of camels.