Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Putting the canoe in at the familiar spot on Portage Bay, he thinks about the love-hate relationship that his city has with the water. It is a love-hate that most never realize exists. Here, he paddles out and turns at the beaver lodge and follows the low mud berm on his right. It is well grassed and shrubbed with a beaver drag coming to the water every 10 yards or so. A bridge, jammed with cars, stands to his left, the combined sound of it all imitates that of rushing water. He explores the wooded inlets that are not accessible in the low water of winter, and he waves to a man on a tractor who seems happy just to see him. The man on the tractor is "fixing" something that the thick layer of peat below this area wishes to reclaim. He turns back, passing the lodge once more, enjoying the near textbook perfect example of beaver architecture. Again, he paddles in places that he cannot during winter. He incurs the very vocal wrath of a female redwing blackbird who seems to have chosen a nest site, and he spots last years nest as he moves out of the blackbird's threat zone.

While there are beaver and birds in this spot, the man knows that something is not quite right. It seems that there should be more, especially in winter when a thousand ducks should be in this bay, but aren't. The love-hate of perpetually parked yachts and the pseudo-green-ness of a hundred houseboats deck over, for luxury sake, the places that the wildlife need for survival.

The man paddles through the crossing under place, the replacement for an ancient portage. He stops at Broken Island to check the last goose nest on the bay and finds it hatched, except for one egg which lies a couple feet from the nest. He collects this.
Then, he stops in the little wet area by the osprey tree, the area he never named, a calm little nook. The call of a marsh wren draws his eyes to the nest. He knows this wren from a month ago. He is glad to see him still here.

He puts his notebook away and keeps the rest of his thoughts and observations to himself.

Postscript - I carefully opened the egg with a fine saw. The egg had stopped incubating not long after being laid. There was nothing inside other than a broken yolk and runny egg white.


Kathleen Faulkner said...

I often think about our love-hate relationship with nature.. I often wonder what it is about mankind that makes us think we are more important than-superior to -and/or more entitled than other 'citizens'.. thanks for this post, Scott.

nsarmila said...

is that the osprey tree in the pic scott? this picture is so beautiful... it inspires many moods...the tree disappeares into the clouds...thanks dear friend.