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Columbia MO - Ellis Library, U of MO
on our third full day out, we start riding the Katy Trail right next to the Missouri River; then right in the Missouri River. it's flooding up and sometimes over the trail. we pedal thru the water, past almost-submerged mailboxes, with catfish rising a few feet to our left, and turkey buzzards fishing ten feet above. when the water gets over our bike wheels, we walk -- very Lewis and Clark: pushing all our gear upstream in the river.
I record two guys bow&arrow-fishing in the middle a flooded beanfield. the current is flowing right onto the land, and the fish follow. they say when the water recedes most of the fish will get out -- they'd done it before in the floods of '93 and '95.
I ask one of them why the fish swam into the beanfield. he asks if we saw all the earthworms on the trail. yes, we had -- I'd guess we saw at least a million (really); we probably each ran over a thousand (couldn't help but, they were everywhere; saw snakes and a turtle too). he says those worms are trying to get keep from drowning -- most won't -- and the fish are feasting on this buffet of fat worms covering the floodbanks.
I had recorded a beautiful symphony of frogs and insects a few miles back. I ask the guy what was making all that racket (figured having him say it might make a nice segue in or out of the frog sounds). he says those were tree frogs, also feasting on insects exposed by the flood. it's all a big food chain, he says, as he looked for more garr and carp to shoot, for use on his trout line to catch catfish. one big food chain.
when things get weird, like say a Missouri River flood, we recordists have a feast as well. there's so much tape-potential right now: guys with thick drawls catching bucket-loads of nite-crawlers, frog symphonies, people remembering the flood of '93, and waiting for the river to crest (today or tomorrow).
when we reach Jefferson City, a fence blocks the trail in both directions. a sign describs the way we'd just come: "trail closed; do not continue. you may become stranded with no escape route."
so we divert up north to Columbia, the University town, and get a room. as we unpack, we unleash all kinds of Missouri River critters from our dip in the stream -- there's things crawling and flying all around the room. we're our own traveling ecosystem.
taking avantage of acedemia (U of MO) to catch up on contacts, and maybe quickly arrange a professorial interview or two. waiting for an email right now from a guy working on a opera based on the expedition.
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