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Photograph Sluice Gate by Richard Keeling on 500px

Sluice Gate by Richard Keeling on 500px

The landscape surrounding the Great Rivers is a blend of rolling hills falling away from the bluffs and, closer to the rivers themselves, large areas of flat floodplain.

Some of the floodplain is devoted to farming, some to industry and some to conservation. The Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is one such.

It’s found close to the Missouri/Mississippi Confluence, on the south bank of the lower of the two rivers, the Missouri.

Not wholly conserved land in the sense that part of it is farmed, but following guidelines that preserve most of the natural vegetation and wetland.

It’s traversed by a single paved road and a number of gravel tracks that converge at their end close to the Confluence. Most visitors end up there, either to take in the view, or, more commonly, to find a spot for fishing.

I, on the other hand, prefer to remain in the open for it is one the few local places where you can get a full sense of a big sky over a large expanse of flat land.

Photograph Soybean Field by Richard Keeling on 500px

Soybean Field by Richard Keeling on 500px

Perhaps because I grew up in a hilly and forested part of England, there is something very appealing to me about standing in an open area that stretches away in all directions. I love the sense of solitude, of being a small part of something much bigger.

Photograph Sunlit Fields by Richard Keeling on 500px

Sunlit Fields by Richard Keeling on 500px

As you might expect, I’ve devoted a lot of camera time to this scene over the years. There is always something striking to see even though the land has become comfortingly familiar.

Photograph Columbia Bottom Conservation Area by Richard Keeling on 500px

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area by Richard Keeling on 500px

Many years ago, when I first moved to Missouri, I felt little affinity for the land. I was consumed by homesickness for my native England. It took time, yes, but now I feel precisely the same fondness for these landscapes as I used to feel for the downs of Surrey.

In some senses more. I’m grateful for that.

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