I'm always trying to see Alabama from different perspectives.
One of my project partners Pierre and I met Steve while he was fishing the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River, and we were checking out the Swann Covered Bridge from the riverbank. We started chatting and hit it off. Not long after that, we all agreed to do things we had never done before: Steve would read a stanza from "Song of Myself," and Pierre and I would join him that night for a midnight turtle hunt.
Although we met Steve by chance, we deliberately put ourselves in the path of Elron, the second engineer on the coal barge, the Megan Parker.
We didn't plan much of what we filmed for either shoot, so I'm a bit overwhelmed by so many accidental parallels with the poetry itself.
In Verse 44, Whitman writes about birth and evolution. And when we were turtle hunting with Steve, he caught a baby prehistoric fish -- a gar. Standing in the middle of the river, in almost complete darkness, looking at that fish, felt like being transported way, way back in time.
In this same verse, Whitman writes about recognizing the steps of evolution but embodying the present. In the video, we emerge from the water in the creek and end up on this long, meditative float with Elron, where there's not much to do but be present, watching the water and listening to the poem.
I'm not sure how this keeps happening, but we'll take every happy accident we get.
By Jennifer Crandall, as told to writer Liz Hildreth.
If you want to learn more about our midnight fishing adventure, Steve has the experience captured in a great Facebook post called Riverslumming in Blount County, Alabama.