Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Into the Swamp

I start near the west end of the ancient portage, the "crossing over place". Houses and roads now prevent the crossing over, but the water is still here. Unsure of my direction, this little bay, at its north end gives me the option of west or east. West is more industrial, east is more natural. Today I turn east. West can be interesting, but east is the nurturing that I need today. It is calm and just a few bits of blue pass through the clouds. And, I start late so the morning chill is gone. The lake level seems to be up another inch or two, just high enough for me to paddle into the crack in Broken Island and fetch a car tire. Then, I head to #1 Island for the main event. With a piece of flat wood, I scoop 3 gallons of mud from the insides of a 44 inch army truck tire. That makes it just barely manageable, just this side of a hernia, and I slide it onto the gunwales of my canoe. I go hip deep in the bog when one of my legs plunges through the veggie mat while trying to get into the canoe. I dump the tire at the usual site, and head to the NE lagoon, because I damn well deserve it. The eagles are together, overflying the bay every once in awhile and although they don't seem to be actively hunting, they cause great commotion amongst the ducks when they pass over. It seems a busy day for the birds. Once in the NE lagoon, I just sit for a time. Few people, even in canoes, come in here. The water is only 6 inches deep, although there are feet of milkshake mud under that. Perhaps it is the slow death of legends, that idea that swamps are wastelands, and that mud is dirty. It takes time for habits and memories to fade. But there are beaver, heron and ducks here. I've seen eight stellars jays at one time and five kingfishers another. There's often a hawk in here and the eagle's nest is just a couple hundred yards to the NE. It's more than it might appear.

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