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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.

33 thoughts on “The River Pool

  1. 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!

    1. Me too, Gunta! I can feel your excitement building and I just know it is going to be wonderful for you.

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. Can you name some of the good nature writing you mentioned?

      1. 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.

      2. Thanks for your recommendations.

      3. Wonderful! Thank you for these recommendations, Andrew. Can’t wait to dig in.

      4. Have you read “Road of a Naturalist” by Donald Culrose Peatie? It is old, but I really loved it.

      5. 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.

      6. 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.

      7. My favorite bit of nature writing is Swampwalker’s Jopurnal.

      8. Okay, I just requested Swampwalker’s Journal through the Austin Public Library.

      9. That is ringing a bell with me. I think I did read that years ago.

  3. This painting is wonderful. You really caught the atmosphere. The colors are just perfect. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your kind comments!

  4. Lovely! I like the crow sitting there watching his/her pond. The colors are wonderful.

    1. Thank you Deborah! The crow just sort of invited himself in, and I’m glad he did. 🙂

  5. 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.

    1. I know someone who’s working on an essay: casually, but working nonetheless. I’ve been thinking about edges since learning the “sedges have edges” verse.

      1. It will be wonderful when you are done with it. My botany teacher and dear friend, also a Linda, would smile at that connection. She has written 3 books on carexes, and is working on another I believe. I can hear her telling us that, smiling, “sedges have edges”.

    2. It could be an edgy topic.

      1. And an edgycational one, too.

      2. snicker…

      3. But I don’t have an annual global sale of $2 billion:

  6. 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!

    1. Thank you so much, Robert. Yes, I love the term “ephemeral pool”. It hints of frogs, with a whiff of Brigadoon!

      1. Wow that gives me a great idea: a re-casting of Brigadoon with an all-frog cast! We’ll have to dub some of the singing, of course, but the dance sequences would be great!

      2. Cue the chorus frogs!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. 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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