Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Guy in the Boat

P, an evening person by nature, arrives at the house at 6am.  And, we begin the portage.
Marsh Wren Nest
I met P, recently at a Smoke Farm event.  He had never been canoeing and, by chance, lived just a few blocks from me.  It was arranged.  The plan for a 6am start is to get to the water early enough to find beaver out swimming around.  It has always worked.  Today it doesn't.  We not only don't see the usual 6 or 8 that I might find as the evening feeding winds down, we don't see one.  We don't see one in the little lagoon that belongs to the Workbench Lodge, so we head over to the lodge itself and, there, we don't see a single one returning to home.  So, we head to the hidden lodge where we find zero, and up the east channel of the burial island, where I give P a good sniff of a scent mound, which he declares to be bad (in winter when they eat tree bark, the scent is pleasant, but I must agree that mid-summer castoreum is fairly rank).  I show him the new muskrat lodge and then we head over to the Big Lodge, where we find no beaver and actually little sign of recent activity.  By now, we can forget about finding beaver.  It is too late in the morning.

But, a green backed heron rises up - all dinosaurish and gawkiness.  It settles behind the lodge and we circle round to view it perched, where it is a deceptively small and graceful looking bird.  Then it unfolds itself into something ill proportioned and flies off.

We cross the bay to take a short walk to see the north eagle nest.  We discuss the reality of Seattle's eco-imagination while looking over Yesler's pilings next to the former Seattle dump site.  I have a low opinion of the founding fathers who for some reason thought that it was a good idea to dump any and all garbage, refuse and debris in the water.  Following the north shore, we spot three very small raccoons running along the shore.

We stop again near the West Lodge.  P is up and out of the canoe and before I can get out he has declared the felled alder trees on the shore to be cool.  In fact, they have continued to work on some of the trees, although not with such vigor as in the winter when they have nothing else to eat.

We continue on, paddling without break into and through Portage Bay and down the dead lake passing the shipyards. 

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