Thursday, June 9, 2011

Island Time

As much as I love the marsh, today I need new waters.

I put in on the NW end of Mercer Island, a good sized chunk of land in the southern half of the big lake. It should be 12-13 miles around. I know most of this island by land, having ridden a bicycle around it about 200 times, but only a few sections of the shoreline are familiar.

I find the west side quiet. It is actually quite peaceful, especially compared to the highway noise that invades my marsh. It is houses all the way, but here in one of the older neighborhoods, some of the residents have let hedges and trees grow between the lake and their windows. A few have even let reeds grow in the shallows. Many of the houses are painted dark earth tones, so that they blend in to the side of the island. There is not much for wildlife, a heron every mile or so, a kingfisher, and a northern flicker. Trees and hedges or not, there's simply not any space for a diverse wildlife experience. But, whether they know it or not, the homeowners here have made this a pleasant stretch where I can easily ignore their houses and imagine myself somewhere more remote.

In the newer neighborhoods, especially down in the SE end of the island, the shore is choked with the absurdity of McMansions with seemingly more money spent on "look at me" than on creating a home. I just watch the bow of the canoe and paddle steady when I see that stuff.

On land, the east side of the island is a couple of miles of wooded ravines, the road essing in and out. I always dreamed that those ravines would run down to the shore, wooded valleys with seasonal creeks draining the rather tall island. But, it's not that way. It is so tightly developed that from the water there is no hint that those ravines even exist. There's no shoreline park land. Frankly, it's a shit hole of wealth.

I stop after 3 hours for a break and take time to write in the shade of a towering bridge. I held off on writing until now. It seemed a better idea to let my thoughts come and go without treating them as something precious. I often think that such unrecorded thoughts will come back so that I may experience them again. It is a hopeful something to look forward to, even if it does not always come up true.

After the pause, I am along familiar shores, although it has been a couple years since I was last here. I pass the house with the bronze Native American statue. They now have an art collection, a crap load of bronze, most of which is, pretty much, crap. Their neighbor still has the 100ft. beast of a yacht parked in front of everyone's houses...look at me...look at what I got.

I get to paddle the full length of Luther Burbank Park (probably more than a mile). Here, the city is doing something really good. Rather than build seawalls to protect the shore from boat wakes, they have installed LWD...large woody debris, a process of cabling drift logs and fallen trees to the shore. It's a technique that can be used in rivers to not only protect the bank, but also to improve fish habitat. There's even some hints of a wetland or two. I paddle close because they have "beaver wrapped" the trees, but I don't see any fresh sign.

It was a nice trip, but I didn't see anything worth taking a photo of, so I didn't.

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