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The river in winter

The Mississippi plunges past St. Louis like a fierce gray horse blowing, frothing, flying, pounding down its prairie-appointed course lunging beneath the architectural lace of Eads Bridge. A ponderous towboat with engines of fury and thunder forfeits the race, trees rattle ecstatically, leaves vanish like applause, frost-studded branches with a thousand pencils sketch dappled appaloosas on the silver sky while a rising ribbon of blackbirds startles, undulates, waving goodbye.