Energy balance comes to mind, for no particular reason, as I make my portage to the west end of the Crossing Over Place. It is a term from the biologists and one that is heard more often in talking about animals that live on the edge of survival and especially those of the arctic. In the barren lands, all species walk a delicate line between fattening up enough in the short summer and making it through a long dark winter. The connection between man and nature is incredibly complex if one sits back in an armchair and tries to take it all in. Those complexities are analogous to the idea of vast wilderness. Just as wilderness loses its vastness when one travels through it, just as it shrinks when one is focused on the details as they come, when one moves one step at a time, the complexities of man and nature become manageable when one focuses on one detail at a time and follows the paths that present themselves. You learn, and the silver bullet solutions, the cure-alls, and the poor progress-driven decisions show their real costs and failings.
I paddle through the Crossing Under Place and duck into the south lagoon exploring the edges of the "wasteland" as I go. Once through the east channel of the burial island, I find that the bog island has moved another 20 feet and that the old canoe channel, a channel that once was 40 or 50 feet wide, is now just a 5 foot gap. I circle and GPS survey the island, and it appears to be collapsing. It may be that the whole island has sagged and split as there are some fissures in the edges that I don't remember. Then, I check on the big lodge nest, which is fine and still a few days from hatching. The workmen there are rebuilding an old dock, so my worries of a monster sized boat slip were unfounded. With such changes in the east marsh, I decide to circle the bay and see how things are. Right away, I notice that the duck population has plummeted since I was last here. Many ducks have just begun their migration. I find that the homeowner near the railroad island has weedwacked all of the cattails and irises and so now I know that that homeowner is a wealthy and stupid shithead. The goose nest in the NE lagoon is precariously close to the water, but still attended. The other nests that I know about are all well. I find a new goose nest on the Rockpile island as I head to the takeout. I've seen no goslings in the bay, yet, although the workmen by the big lodge reported seeing some.