Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Best Things in Life Aren't Things

A friend posts a photo with that line painted on a cracked wall in neat block letters with the shadows of trees running through the image. I write it on the back of my life vest in neat block letters.

I am going canoeing. My big show is ready and worrying about it won't make it readier. I pack my gear (or rather, I grab my gear that is always packed and ready to go). It begins to drizzle, and I grab my gear faster. I love the rain. If I ever move from here I will probably miss the rain as much as I miss the snowy winters of the place where I grew up.

At the big lake, a woman arrives for her mile swim as I am getting ready. She is happy. Just like me with my canoe, she is happy by swimming in the open water of the big lake. I can tell. We exchange just a sentence or two. She is in the water and on her way.

The drizzle closes down the lake, the distant obstructions of the city disappear just as the even more distant peaks of Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier do. The world softens, it eases up and lets the imagination stretch.

A favorable wind blows me in my desired direction as I put my paddle down across the gunwales and write in my notebook.

The first bird of note is a female common merganser. It is a rare bird to see here at this time of year, although they are plentiful in winter. I suppose there are a few near the mouth of the Cedar River at the south end of the big lake. Rivers suit there carnivore tastes much better during summer.

At Potlatch Point an eagle with something in its talons flies by. It is on a beeline for the south nest. I am on a beeline for the NE lagoon. As I near, I find one of the north nest eagles at the lunch counter. It gets up when I am still some distance, but it is clearly the huge female.

While circling the bay, I find an immature bald eagle in a birch on Birch Island. A lot of Canada geese are right below it. The geese do this fairly often and it always looks odd to me. But, it is a foolish eagle that will mess with a full-grown goose as a goose is capable of breaking an eagle's wing...a fatal injury.

I run once through the east marsh and south lagoon. I leave the water at the west end of the ancient portage. On the way home, I run into the man with the crutch and the little lap dog, right at the steepest cobblestone section of the portage, where I have always found them. It has been some time since I've seen them. I stop and we talk for a minute or two.

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