Into the Weeds of the River

There’s really not a better way to spend the hot days of summer than to spend some time down on the river. Even if it’s just for a short spell, going out to fish, swim, or boat provides some much needed R & R for the soul. For Carolyn and I, living a fifteen minute drive from the Missouri River means we get to take advantage of it quite often.

So on Sunday when it was 100 degrees we went down to have a picnic by the river and then took the kayaks out for a brief spin around the nearest sandbar. We had gone around this one a number of times, and we knew it usually takes only 20 minutes or so if all you do is kayak. That’s how Carolyn wanted to go that day. Me, on the other hand, didn’t really want to go back to the house and do actual work so I slowed down my driven wife a bit by looking at all the wildlife and trying to find little coves in the sandbar.

Near the eastern tip of this sandbar, I found this backwater that was mostly obscured by reeds and convinced Carolyn we needed to see how far it went. So she paddled in between the cattails and much to our surprise it opened up into this little oasis filled with the most beautiful sight.


It was like the damp version of Bambi when he finds the meadow.

It was a hidden paradise, complete with fish and flowers. In this little cove the water was still, and crystal clear. You could see not only the bottom, but all the water plants and the fish darting back and forth in them. A big gar splashed right next to Carolyn and  made her jump. We slowly paddled our way farther in, and found more lilies and fish.

We hung out in there for a while, watching the fish and enjoying the flowers. Eventually, Carolyn’s to-do list shortened her patience and we paddled back out. But outside of the cove, close to where the water was moving, I saw some more lilies.


Although we saw a frog, he wouldn’t just hang out on a lily pad for a photo op.

What may be the most intriguing about this photo is not the plants, but where it was taken. Just four hundred yards from this point is a cattle feedyard (a CAFO, if we want to run with the buzzwords). There are several of these in Bon Homme county, which borders the Missouri. Because of the careful actions taken by many of the cattle feeders in this area to prevent manure runoff, we can have a river that is capable of supporting this kind of aquatic life.

In the end, we got out of the water and probably went back to the house at the right time, because it got just plain hot after we left. But if you’re in the Springfield area and looking for a neat place to kayak, I’d suggest exploring in and around the sand bars on the Missouri. Just try not to get lost.