Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Moving Island

I portage down to the east end of the ancient portage stopping as I near to talk with the homeless guy who lives in a rowboat out in the marsh. We've talked many times before. I always enjoy his strange interpretations of nature, the names he gives to various birds and animals and the personal relationships that he tries to form with them. He's from the south and doesn't know many of the animals by their correct names... but he is always learning and he does note their habits.

I cut straight across the bay to join in a work party that is grubbing out invasive blackberries and replacing them with native plants. On my last trip to do this we planted osoberry (indian plum) and something else (I am very much horticulturally challenged). Today, they put in fifty oceanspray plantings at a little higher elevation where the soil is dryer. A class of freshmen from a UW environmental science class make up most of the team.

Returning to the canoe, I watch a female common merganser in the NE lagoon for quite some time. The nearby goose nest is doing fine, so far. Then I paddle the headwind straight south to the east marsh.

As I enter the east marsh, two kayakers exit. (I do not know this yet, but they will miss the action).

The moving cattail island has once again moved (refer to the last few entries). Today, the small 10x10 foot patch of cattails is jammed under the bridge and the large (1500 sq ft) south chunk has rejoined the main. The opening on the east side has closed, although it is only a 10 foot bridge of cattail that seals it off. I hear cattails breaking and get out my camera, ready for whatever is coming my way. But it is not what I thought. It is not mammal or bird. Instead, it is the cattail island coming my way and the cattail snapping is from the two masses of bog rubbing against each other. I can actually see the island move. I try to catch this with the camera and when I finally stop peeping through the viewfinder, I see that there is now a 10 foot wide gap to paddle through. I watch and the gap closes to 5 feet before I move off. It was always interesting to watch this movement on a day to day time scale, but I never expected to see it move as I watched.

I head west, checking a dead end beaver canal as I go, teaching two passing canoeists how to hold their paddles (and telling them that without their pfd's they stand a good chance of drowning in 45 degree water - they don't put them on, they never do), then further west, through the south lagoons, through the crossing under place, and down Portage Bay to take out. A young bald eagle, sporting new white head feathers is sitting over the main Portage Bay beaver lodge when I arrive.

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