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  • The Mississippi River is in flood.

    I drove out to the same place by the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge where I stood last Sunday.

    I did not get very far. The entire area where I had been photographing the pelicans was under deep water.

    I took a few photographs of the flood, intending, as is often my way, to collect a few landscape images.
  • As I stood at the water's edge, I glanced down to the rocks and stones that were slowly being covered by the rising flood.

    What I saw astonished me. I sat down and looked closer.

    On each stone, now a tiny island in the muddy water, I saw a large collection of insects.

    Mostly woodlice, but ants, spiders, and small beetles too.
  • Each stone was a throng of living creatures.

    Each stone was a death trap.
  • If I had been in a lifeboat on that icy, glassy sea when the RMS Titanic was swallowed by the ocean, I believe my sense of awe and dread would have been only marginally greater.
  • Inexorably the river rose.
  • One by one or in small clumps, the insects were swept away.
  • A small twig offered no lifeline.
  • By the end, I was looking at a single woodlouse.

    I felt profoundly affected.

    Why was little insect, one of millions, whose presence I would normally not acknowledge in any way, pulling at my heart?

    Was it a rather sobering sense of allegory translating this sinking stone into man's relationship with his own planet?

    Or was it simply the realization that a life was being lost in front of my eyes and I was doing nothing to stop it?
  • A moment later it was gone.
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