Friday, December 25, 2009


I race over my portage to the lake. I can't get there in time for the predawn shadow, the last minutes of syrupy darkness, but I can still get there before the sun comes up. Ice has once again set up in the south lagoon. It is no more than a 1/4 inch thick, so I bust through it to get into the east channel of the burial island. There is little ice in the channel and what is here is the thin feather patterns of a barely forming freeze. It is like the frost on a window, except bigger. I'm probably to late too spot beaver in the east marsh, but they would hear me coming through the ice long before I could see them anyway. The sun rises while I am in the east marsh, first peeping through frost covered cattails before rising orange into an almost clear sky. Redwing blackbirds begin to trill back and forth at each other. I head across the bay, straight for the railroad island, a marsh island formed around pilings from a rail pier that long ago dissolved. Ducks to the side of me take wing from one of the dirtbergs. I am too far off to be the cause and I spot an eagle, which seems to just be warming up for a later hunt. It lands on a boathouse. Just as I reach the railroad island, the eagle passes having circled around behind me. It lands in a tree at the mouth of the NE lagoon. I stop in the branches of the island's eagle perch. I have made a truly crappy thermos of coffee today. It reminds me of my dad's duck hunting brew from 40 years ago... it might actually be left-overs. A red tailed hawk overlooks the north marsh. I just sit, for a long time. It is cold and it is also a beautiful morning. Edging along #2 island, I scare up 3 snipe. There are always snipe here - something the birdwatchers rarely see because they stay on dry land. Near Marsh Island, I pause and explore the submerged debris field. It is definitely old building remains. There are bricks, wire and other fixtures, plus the old bathtubs that I have noted before. I recover a crushed copper tea kettle. The rest I leave for an archaeologist that is starving for a project.

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