On my portage to the dead lake, I stop to talk with the woman that sells newspapers in front of the drug store. She always has a few minutes for me and her smile and laugh is as good a guide as the best of compasses. I cannot resist stopping to talk with her, ever. She tells me that the weather is about to change because the birds are nowhere to be seen. She might be right. I just wish that more people took the time to notice such things. The unimportant is so important.
The dead lake is calm. There is only enough wind to shake the surface of the water without making waves.
A rain shower passes as I work north paddling past Palazzo del Dorko, the most ridiculous of house boats, and the armada of parked toy ships.
A single pair of running shoes, arranged carefully on the low dock of a rowing club signals that there is a single rower in a shell somewhere out there.
I get to Portage Bay and I have forgotten what I intended to do today.
A rain shower returns while I am in the crossing-under-place. The common mergansers that always congregate at the east end move away from me while the Or Noir, some 75 feet of smoking plastic yacht passes to my right (I always paddle the wrong side of the canal so that I can look the toy ship drivers eye to eye). I steer well clear of the cormorant tree because their exhaust is much worse than the worst of diesel fumes. And a splot-splatter to my left shows that my course was well chosen.
I remember that I planned on retrieving another car tire from the marsh.
An eagle is perched on the birch island, one of the north nesters, maybe the large female. I beach in the mud on the edge of broken island, a good place to watch from. An otter appears on a log under the eagle. After a few minutes it begins swimming my way, but what seemed to be one otter turns out to be two. No, three. A whistling peep starts and I find a fourth back on the log. It continues to peep until the other three return.
I decide to follow the otters, knowing that I will also disturb the eagle. As often happens, the eagle takes wing and uses the forced movement to hunt coots. I surprise the otters at the north end of #2 island.
I dig an old tire from the shallows and drop it at the usual spot.
I meet a teacher from a local school as I take out. He's seen me portage past his classroom a few times. We talk a few moments, he continues his run, I start my portage.