An Obscure, Complicated Place

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.

MILL RIVER WATERSHED 2, oil on canvas, 12×9

4 Replies to “An Obscure, Complicated Place”

  1. Hi,
    interesting uber-title for these mill river paintings. There is simple intricacy to these places and paintings!

  2. Russell,
    Your poetic description of the Mill River is so vivid I can see it. Even though I haven’t walked it with you for far too many years. It’s all all in my mind’s eye once again.

    1. Thank you, Jim. That’s a lovely thing to say. It amazes me to know how much life and diversity are packed into such a rarely visited place. Glad you remember it, too.

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