MILL RIVER WATERSHED, oil on canvas, 14×11
THE MILL RIVER in Hatfield is ancient, meandering, and slow.
Its watershed is dense, overgrown:
centuries-old tree trunks lying cockeyed at odd intervals and remnants of the washed-out footbridge snag mini-dams of bone-white limbs and the occasional tire as the river’s liquid lungs rise and fall with the seasons;
massive roots rear up from mossy trunks, mortally exposed, still gripping stones and gravel, harboring grubs and providing mice shelter;
the surrounding forest moves: ants blind beyond the nearest frond, squirrel pivoting from limb to vine, grasses rippling, redwing blackbird bobbing on a slender branch;
the forest sings: a fly buzzes, a kingfisher calls, the water’s slow, seductive gurgle;
the river oozes antiquity, saturates the deep, perfumed mat of the forest floor and etched daily by a multitude of drunken insect trails; hooves and paw prints punctuate its soft, alluvial banks;
the water’s glittering surface hosts squawking mallards and the scanning eyes of otter, beaver, and predatory herons;
a swarm of midges cloud beneath majestic, arboreal arches as a million lives swim unseen within the shifting current, mirroring this obscure, complicated place where the juice flows.