Sunday, September 27, 2009


I get up early and put in at the south lagoon before sunrise. Something in the back of my mind, imprinted long ago, always tells me that a small amount of self imposed torture will have disproportionate benefits.It is calm and not dark, but the world is in shadow. I head up the east channel of the burial island, preferring not to come out into open sky too quickly, but I really didn't think about it... direction by hunch. As I near the north end of the east marsh, a beaver swims across my path towing a branch. It doesn't seem to notice me until I am 10 yards away and it dives with a slap of the tail sending water 4 feet in the air. I continue on to a distance where it might feel safe, I pour a cup of coffee and then I sit still and watch. While I wait, there is a splash closer to my left and a moment later a second beaver surfaces. I decide I had better look all around, and there is number 3, just 50 yards behind my left shoulder. 1 and 2 continue to the lodge, but 3 swims a big wide S, watching me carefully. This leads my eye to number 4, which is motionless in the water. I figure out that I am interfering with their business, so I move back 20 yards. The sun comes up. A kingfisher flies overhead chattering all the way. 3 has now moved off toward the lodge and I see it no more. 4, however, continues to swim slowly back and fourth. Twice it dives with a slap of the tail, even though I haven't moved. 4 seems to be the guard beaver. After I back off another 50 yards, it watches for a few minutes and then disappears. I wait 10 minutes and with no more sign of beaver, paddle off across the bay. A 4 man shell rows by at speed heading into the sun. The coxswain, perhaps the wife of one of the rowers tells how beautiful the morning is by the expression on her face, which is brilliantly lit by the new sun. She glows golden. If it was my wife and I were rowing, I would stop and watch her and damned be to the other three in the boat. I find geese, ducks and coots on the north side of the bay. A redtail hawk lands in a tall alder tree. There are lone coots around. The eagles are probably still eating salmon. Independent coots, the rebels, are eagle food during the winter.

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