Thursday, December 17, 2009

Paddling Away

I start in the south lagoon. There is still ice here and a thin layer of fog forms on it. After two warm days with rain the ice is deceptively weak. It pops and cracks as I scoot the canoe across it. Once in the canoe, I find that I can break through 2 inch thick ice. Unseen flaws have formed in the ice during the rain. The canoe rides up on the thicker ice and then a crack zips out like a thin black bolt of lightning, the canoe sags and settles into the water. I cannot round the burial island. Instead I play with blocks of ice for a while, and then, move off. Yesterday, I toiled all day on a problem that I could not solve. Today, I need to paddle away. I need to paddle away until I wanted to paddle back. I circle Marsh Island once, noting buffleheads, bathtubs and nurse logs and then head through the cut. It is very calm with greasy clouds, clouds that the sun comes through as a yellow oily smear. I head straight through Portage Bay and follow the west side of Lake Union. Then into the Fremont canal. It was once a thin creek that dropped twelve feet in about a half mile to Salmon Bay. That was over a hundred years ago. Salmon Bay is busy with Kvichak launching a new boat. There are two large cranes and a tug to handle the job. The tug wash nearly blows me into a moored boat as I pass. I stop at Fishermans Terminal for lunch and I am ready to return. I have paddled away enough. At Kvichak, the boat is less than halfway out of the shed. There are scaups in the canal. I don't know why they prefer here, but they do. I rarely see them in other parts of the waterway. I head down Lake Union and take out at a place that is 200 yards south of my normal spot. The view is all different. Such a difference for such a small distance, but all the buildings and boats are a different scale from here.

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