Yesterday was all wind. A day when canoes stay on shore even in the smallest of waters.My shoulders still ache from the portage of two days back. On a real canoe trip, an hour or two of paddling might follow a portage and the stiff ache replaced by fatigue.
Today seems out of sorts. I am neither here nor there and I am never quite happy when I am between. A beaver has begun to work on a maple near the put in, where I find raccoon tracks intermingled with those of a dog or two. I pass through the crossing under place and begin a circle of the bay. All the migratory birds are here, except for the large mergansers. I imagine that I might find them in the rivers still, picking the leftovers of salmon spawning.
In the NE lagoon, a new pile of branches is perched atop the beaver lodge. A dead Canada goose floats in the water with one eye open and skyward. I find beaver and raccoon tracks in the mud, pretty much where I expect to find them. Then, I leave, bucking a headwind across the bay, noticing at one moment that I am the center of a big scattered crescent of ducks.
I sit and eat my lunch in the south lagoon, watching ducks do what ducks do. I spot something small and white darting through the water. It turns left, then right, and then it stops. I take one or two quiet strokes with the paddle, aiming the canoe towards it and then letting the momentum coast me closer, my eyes fixed on the critter to catch any evasive movement. It holds still, frozen to escape notice while I near. It is a duck pinfeather.
On the portage home, a woman comes out of her house to ask me what I am doing. She has seen me several times before, her house and her developing garden sculpture on one of my favorite routes. She is charming and we chat for a good 15 minutes. I am no longer out of sorts.