Pelicans on the Mississippi River

American White Pelicans on the Upper Mississippi

American White Pelicans on the Mississippi River © 2012 Bo Mackison

 The soul has illusions as the bird has wings: it is supported by them. ~ Victor Hugo

This is the first year I have ever seen lotus flowers bloom across half the Mississippi River (in early July near Stoddard Wisconsin) and this past weekend I saw hundreds of American white pelicans brood in a protected area of the Mississippi near the Savanna, Illinois/Sabula, Iowa bridge. Amazing.

I have lived within a hundred miles of the Mississippi River most of my life. I have traveled the river roads from Dubuque, Iowa to St. Louis. Missouri hundreds of times. I’ve walked along the banks in dozens of Mississippi River towns, some only a few blocks in width, wedged on the available land between the river’s edge and the vertical bluffs. A  few of the larger cities crept up those limestone bluffs and then sprawled along the prairie lands – Dubuque, Minneapolis, Keokuk, Quincy, St. Louis are just a few I know well, the ones I have visited since childhood.

I’ve explored the Mississippi at its start in Minnesota, the beginnings of the river only a few steps wide. I’ve explored the Mississippi in Louisiana, boating through the bayous, walking along the Gulf Coast. My family and I took a cruise that left from New Orleans, heading to the Caribbean, and we rocked and rolled through the Mississippi Delta in the dark. Occasionally we’d see lighted platforms from the oil rigs, truly out in the middle of nowhere. Sitting at our dinner table on the cruise, we were mesmerized by the controlled sloshing of our drinks in the clear crystal glasses. The ship would tip towards the starboard, then tip towards the port, like a baby’s cradle, as it followed the channel. A bit disconcerting on our first evening on board. Our waiter told us they were trained to fill the glasses to different levels, dependent on how rough the river was running.

The Mississippi River is the longest river that begins and ends in the United States, if you consider the outpouring of her waters into the Mississippi Delta as part of the country. I never quite realized how attached I was to this river until I began exploring more of the river and the roads and towns that are near her shores.

Love this river in her many forms!

Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. This summer, she is taking weekend trips up and down the mighty Mississippi and documenting her short road trips with camera and pen.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Beautiful image Bo !!

  2. Gandalf says:

    Very interesting post and an intriguing photo. I never knew about the American White Pelican.

  3. love the pelican!

  4. These are incredible. I never even knew about this. Terrific backstory and image!!!

  5. My favorite pelicans of all time, as you know. I’d swallow my tongue if I saw that many at one time…..but first I’d get some shots. WOW!!! XO

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