A day in the Delta

I’ve been reading Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi on this trip; last night, I read this passage just before putting the book down for the night:

I had myself called with the four o’clock watch, mornings, for one cannot see too many summer sunrises on the Mississippi. They are enchanting…. The dawn creeps in stealthily; the solid walls of black forest soften to gray, and vast stretches of the river open up and reveal themselves; the water is glass-smooth, gives off spectral little wreaths of white mist, there is not the faintest breath of wind, nor stir of leaf; the tranquillity is profound and infinitely satisfying…. When the light has become a little stronger, you have one of the fairest and softest pictures imaginable. You have the intense green of the massed and crowded foliage near by; you see it paling shade by shade in front of you; upon the next projecting cape, a mile off or more, the tint has lightened to the tender young green of spring; the cape beyond that one has almost lost color, and the furthest one, miles away under the horizon, sleeps upon the water a mere dim vapor, and hardly separable from the sky above it and about it. And all this stretch of river is a mirror, and you have the shadowy reflections of the leafage and the curving shores and the receding capes pictured in it. Well, that is all beautiful; soft and rich and beautiful; and when the sun gets well up, and distributes a pink flush here and a powder of gold yonder and a purple haze where it will yield the best effect, you grant that you have seen something that is worth remembering.

I didn’t have myself called with the four o’clock watch to see sunrise, but there it was anyway when I woke up.

We’ve been steaming towards Memphis all day; there hasn’t been a lot of development along the riverbanks. About the biggest settlement I saw was this one, which I think is a collection of vacation cabins around river mile 579. The cabins are on the Arkansas side of the river, but they’re actually in Mississippi because the river has moved since the state boundaries were established.

The first speaker today was our Riverlorian, Curt Lietz, who has been paddling down the Mississippi for years and is about 2/3 of the way through (he paddles about one week per year). His talk was titled “From Source to Sea”; he talked about people who’ve written journals about their paddling trips down the river and what he’s learned during his trip so far. I wish he’d been with the ship the entire trip; it would have been great to hear more from him.

The second speaker was Andy Flory from Carleton; this time, he was talking about Memphis Soul music. It was a very good talk with great music to back it up.

And then it was time for our farewell reception and sunset.