Volume I, No. 2, Winter 1973




OZARK RIVER COUNTRY

Written by Nelle Franklin

Photography by Robert McKenzie and David Massey

A small, secluded river we love is the Osage Fork of the Gasconade. A few minutes from our homes, we enter its private narrow world from a country road, crossing the low-water bridge at Davis Mill. We enter a monochromatic world of green -- low fluffy river willows, like green cotton candy; shiny yellow-green sycamores topped by darker green oaks; and all interspersed with the blue-greens of lindens and dogwoods. Overhead is the yellow green of leaves in the sun, a hint of gold-green in the new growth of the leaves, and silver-green on their undersides. All these greens are reflected in the shady water. The black rocks, shadows and trunks give accent and contrast to the occasional white sun-lit sycamore trunks and Queen Anne's lace. Looking through the greenness to the deep blue sky smeared with clouds like not completely mixed meringue, gives a feeling of fairyland -- not quite real in its perfection.

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The world of the river is never constant. Daily, hourly it changes, rising swiftly as a rain upstream sends down walls of temporarily muddy water. The usually peaceful river becomes turbulent, covering the low-water bridge at Orla. It topples the deserted and weakened metal bridge with its strength, playing with logs like pick-up sticks. Further downstream the old Lambeth Bridge, unruffled by the moods of the river for almost seventy years, seems to say with the still green and silent woods beside it that the river will quickly subside.

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Down the river we can hear the rushing water of a spring as it cascades over and around gray boulders carpeted with soft green velvety moss. The foliage, keeps out most of the sunlight except for a few spots brilliantly highlighted with yellow sunlight. It is several yards downstream before the colorless, bluish-tinted spring water mingles with the murkier river water.


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Usually the river vegetation predominates, but occasionally a meadow or field will intrude to the river's edge. It is as if the curtain of trees secluding the river's privacy were pulled back, exposing the vast world outside. Pink and brown cone flowers and red blackberries give a brief color contrast before the gray-green lichen covered bluffs, full of caves and rock formations draw our attention back to the immediate surroundings.

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Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.


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