The River Pool

River Pool

The River Pool


When I was a girl I couldn’t get enough of peering into pools of water. Whether tide pools  at the sea or small lakes here in Illinois, I was endlessly fascinated to see how the light reflected on the surface of the water shifted as waves rippled, and to watch the critters swimming about. Walking along the Des Plaines River, I was tickled to discover that as the river meanders it also creates still pools of water. Edges are wonderful places, full of change and life.


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    Wonderful painting. Especially like the crow in there, though he did rather pull my eye from the pool! Can’t wait to get to know the pools formed at the creek at our new location. It’s going to be fun! I love any sort of bodies of water, though best if they move!

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    We had a small brook running through our village. At one end was a deep pool that we used to visit to try and catch the trout. Lower down there were fasting running sections. We would turn over the stones looking for the little bullhead fish. All children seem to be fascinated by these adventures but sadly growing up many lose it. Nowadays paranoid parents and health and safety conspire to stop kids roaming into ‘unsafe’ places. I’m sure more kids are killed by walking into traffic whilst playing with their phones than ever drowned looking into the streams of rural England. There is a resurgence of good nature writing nowadays and I hope it inspires more children to enjoy doing what we did.

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      I hope so, too, Andrew. It is so good for a child’s soul to gaze deeply into a pool. And bullheads! I loved them. The young (in our pond, anyway) would school in the shape of an adult bullhead! Neat!

      • I am especially fond of John Lewis-Stempel. He is a farmer, historian and author in rural Herefordshire. Simon Barnes is excellent – also writes on sport and worked for The Times. Mark Cocker, Dave Goulson on bees, Peter Marren, Rob Cowen….. but I would start with JLS. Meadowland is excellent as is The Running Hare. Each of these authors is in my library.

      • I believe I have read Road of a Naturalist. I discovered Donald Culross Peattie through Green Laurels, which my father somehow had in his library even though my father had no knowledge of or interest in botany. D.C.P. writes enchantingly.

      • He does, indeed. I’ll have to rummage through my library to see what else I can recommend but I suspect we’ve read all the same books.

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    Let’s hear it for natural pools and the light reflected from their surfaces.

    I wonder if anyone has written a book, or at least an essay, about edges.

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    This is lovely.
    I enjoy peering into these little separate worlds, whether it’s a tidal pool, the backwater in a quiet bend in the river, or even a puddle with a few frogs! There’s a lot of wonderful language associated with it – the “vernal ponds” that form in the woods, in the springtime, are also called “ephemeral pools” (isn’t that great?!) Border, edge, frontier, fringe – – each term has all sorts of neat connotations and associations. Very nice painting. Have a great weekend!

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    In addition to your pool (which your painting reflects so nicely!) I thought of the oxbow lakes formed by rivers like the Mississippi, and prairie potholes and swales. The edges of potholes are especially interesting, because the rings of vegetation are so varied, but the deeper ones allow for some perfectly satisfying gazing. I’ve often thought that the birds I see at the water’s edge are doing some gazing of their own. (I’m not so sure about the alligators.)

    There are so many edges: between sea and sand, night and day, salt water and fresh. Natural edges always are shifting, though, which adds to the interest. Our estuaries are by nature ill-defined edges, but edges nonetheless: permable boundaries between quite different worlds. They have some of the best pools in the world — you ought to get yourself down here to paint them!

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    Ah, a fellow pool gazer! I have long dreamed of venturing down your way to paint the estuaries there, with their shifting edges. It sounds glorious.

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    Any sedges by those edges? 🙂
    This is a bit mysterious as well as beautiful, Melissa. I want to peer into that pool to see the bullheads. Unfortunately, as a child they were one of my fishing targets and I caught quite a few. They’d bite at anything…even rolled up bits of white bread.

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      Oh yes indeed there are edgy sedges there 🙂 Are there still bullheads in you r area? I suppose they must still be around but I haven’t seen any in years. So sad. I was endlessly fascinated by them as a child, along with bullfrog tadpoles. Those things get enormous and will also bite at anything!

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