Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Osprey pooping

Coming from the big lake, I near the Big Lodge smelling the odor of decay and mud. That this summer has been a cool one is well told by the fact that today, the 26th of July, marks the first day of the summer that I can pick up that swampy smell of decay. I remember it all the way back to my youth - it is a smell that sticks well in the sinuses - and how hard it was to get off after mucking about in a pond.

I don't need to, but yet, I do need to go down the big dead end in the east marsh. It is the only route into the backside of the beaver forest and this year, with the high water staying for so long, the cattails are moving - spreading and colonizing new water. The original channel closed up this spring and the alternative is just barely wide enough for my canoe. Fewer people than ever are coming in here now - the beamy rental canoes are barred from making the passage. By fall, I probably won't be able to make it. Today, there are quite a few ducks, undisturbed more than usual. But the action is the red wing blackbirds, hopping and picking at bugs on the beaver cut stumps. As I leave, I catch the other familiar smell of summer, that of warmed freshwater lake, a complex smell that reminds me of the stinging that happens when water goes up ones nose while swimming.

A little breeze comes up and with the puffs of cumulus clouds and the humid cool, I am reminded of thunderstorms - it is that humid cool, the signaling of a front. But, that is also a memory from long ago and from another place.

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