Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Season of Brown Ducks

I put in at the east end of the 'crossing over place' and hurry away, the south lagoon rapidly filling with rental canoes, weaving and wobbling and thunking as paddles bang against the aluminum hulls.

The west islands has no one except me, and the brown ducks. These resident ducks, mostly mallards and wood ducks, have given up their spectacular breeding colors and now the males are just shades of brown, no longer out-dressing the females. A heron sits in the tip top of the alder that stands on the point that is the entrance to this narrow lily pad choked channel. It looks very good there, a heron silhouette.
I stop in the NE lagoon, just because I like to keep on eye on this place where more happens than one might assume. But, it is sleeping in the summer heat. One mother duck herds a half dozen ducklings away from my drifting canoe and dozens of dragonflies hunt down smaller insects that have finally hatched as our late summer arrives. These dragonflies are blue and gray with a couple dark bands on the wings. A couple of herons drop by and take up favorite fishing spots.

There is a gentle breeze and after sitting for a few minutes, my canoe up against the cattails, the boat begins to spin. I would not remark on this if I were in open water where this is normal motion, but here the bow pivots of its own accord into the wind with the stern firm against the shore. Once the canoe has swung a full half turn, and it does this surprisingly fast, it drifts 30 feet south to the edge of the beaver lodge, which is so green with plants that I am probably the only one around who would know that it is here. It was a very strange and deliberate movement as if something under the boat moved me. Perhaps, I am supposed to see something, so I sit and wait. Whatever it was escapes me. Maybe I wasn't supposed to see something.

As I leave, paddling past the railroad island, I surprise a bald eagle that is sitting at the lunch counter. It has been most of a year since I've seen the eagles use the lunch counter, a former favorite coot eating perch. The eagle flies out into the bay and tries its luck at hunting some ducklings, but the ducklings have learned to dive well enough to not get eaten, this time. When the eagle pauses for a rest in the railroad island perch, the ducks move on, and I move on.

I head out and south down the big lake, choppy and a bit breezy. It is a nice day.

No comments: