River Meadow

River Meadow

This lush meadow grows along both sides of the Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park.  Blazing stars grow thick throughout the park.  I’ve seen 3 different species there.  The pink umbel could be wild parsley.  I like how the colors of these plants play off each other, along with the occasional red-orange of a fall leaf.  Do you see the little wren?  She’s probably a little too big, honestly, but I wanted her visible.

To the north of this spot sits a defunct nuclear plant, its spent fuel sitting in containers leaking radiation into the sand.  To the south a little way is a coal plant and an asbestos  company.  Walk the beach and you’ll find chunks of asbestos lying among the pebbles.

The powerful don’t seem to mind making monumental messes that they will never be forced to deal with.  So it seems to me it is up to us to make choices in what we buy.  If we use an electric stove, we can cut off the demand for gas that is obtained by fracking.  I understand that solar power is now cheaper than coal.  Batteries have advanced to the point that it is an effective way to power our homes.  And, I’ve started asking waitresses to wrap my leftovers in something besides styrofoam.  To my surprise, they always can!  Do we want to have scenes like the one above, or do we want a world in which whales wash up on shore, dead of starvation but stomachs full of plastic?  WE must choose, we must be the source of wisdom.


  1. We can confirm that the Dead River is anything but dead in your painting of it. Three years ago we visited too early in the year to see any blazing star—at least I don’t remember any. Too bad. What’s in the lower left corner?


    1. It is an umbel of some sort. I haven’t sorted those all out yet but a likely candidate is cow parsnip but there are a few similar plants. You’re right about the timing…you’d have had to be here in late August-early Sept.


    1. Yeah, it really is. Things have been that way as long as I’ve lived here, so it is tempting to just get used to it, but every once in awhile I make myself really see the setting for this jewel and speak up about it. I hear a lot of environmentalists espouse nuclear energy but I think if they had something like those containers of leaking fuel sitting near them they would reconsider, and that isn’t even talking about the disasters we have seen around the world. There is something in man, I think, that prefers risk.


  2. I had to look and look to find the wren. When I finally did, I couldn’t believe how obvious it is. Clearly, you’ve not only managed to re-create the bird, you’ve done it in a way that demonstrates the effectiveness of its camouflage, too. Nicely done.


  3. Oo! I noticed the little wren right away! What a cutie! I love the composition and movement of your landscape. So many wonderful plant layers working together beautifully.

    It is dismaying that many beautiful places to see plants and animals are close to human built eyesores. At best, they are just eyesores. Sadly, many also produce substances that kill life. I agree with you that making environmentally aware choices when buying things definitely helps. I love those reusable shopping bags that fold up nicely into a tiny little pouch!


  4. Aren’t wrens adorable? I love them.
    Yeah, dismaying is right. We’re planning to move to our forever home sometime soon, and then we want to install solar panels. I’m seeing more and more homes with them. Wouldn’t it be great if developers were required to install them? I see that the nuclear and uranium mining industries are hoping Trump will bail them out with money. If their energy was so great, seems to me they wouldn’t need handouts to continue. I hear about how cheap nuclear energy is…. that is only because the true costs are externalized!
    I love those reusable bags, too. 🙂


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