Monday, February 27, 2012


Coming up the big lake, it is golden eyes with an occasional bufflehead.  There is a light chilly wind to my face and a bright warm sun on my back.  At Potlatch Point, a flock of 1 dozen waits.  It is half and half, buffleheads and golden eyes.  I turn the corner into the bay and it is buffleheads.

At the big lodge, I notice that the lake is 2 or 3 inches higher than it has been all winter.  These 2 or 3 inches are a world of difference for a trip to this marsh.  That extra low level this winter has barred me from a few of my favorite places to find something unexpected.  I paddle into the east marsh's big dead end, a pathway through the cattails that reconfigured itself last summer and one that has been too shallow for me since November.  As I prepare to sit a time between the cattails with the sun warming all, the first marsh wren of spring sings out its raygun buzzes and zaps.  I hear whistling and catch the south nest eagles through the trees near their familiar basket home.  It is a rhythmic and repeating pattern of whistling.  Something is being said.

There are no cattail shoots, yet.  The marsh is at its deadest, the only green from mosses and willow shoots, which stay green all winter.  But this deadness, if you know the marsh, is just a warning of the explosion of green that will come when the time is right.  No other environment on earth produces so much green stuff as does a marsh.

I stop and check in with my friend, 3-Stars.  We talk birds and beaver and the folly of the planned bridge.  It is always interesting, it is always a refreshing talk.

On my portage home, just 4 blocks from the house, whistling draws my eyes high to the top of a tall evergreen to find an eagle.  One other person is watching and as he walks my way I look once more and spot a second eagle just two feet lower that neither of us had seen.  "A" and I have one of those delightful conversations that portaging a canoe through the city seems to create.

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