Friday, October 26, 2012

The Unseen Treasure

I portage over to the harbor to put in on the steep rocky bank.  An osprey arrives and begins to drops with great control and pauses at 15 feet...then it dives into the water and comes up empty.

I'm heading to Gulf Pond once more, but this time with plans to get into Indian River.  The tide is dropping and there is enough room for me to pass under the rusty bridge, but the current is as strong as I've yet seen it.  I make very slow headway into it until I get to the bridge.  I reach up with both hands and grab the beams and hurl myself forward.

lower Gulf Pond - near high tide

In the pond, a heron sits on the osprey nesting pole and the feral parrots are making a racket at some distance west.  At the current tide level, I can paddle the edges of the spartina easily clearing the mud flats that are some 3 or 4 feet deep.  I hear a kingfisher in the distance and spot it some 300 yards off.  Some people have told me that I am eagle eyed, but I am not.  That kingfisher is nothing more than a blue-gray dot on the background of autumn leaves.  It is the way that the blue-gray dot moves that tells me it is a kingfisher.  It is a readable pattern not much different from a sheet of music or Morse code.  The trick is to learn the code and you learn the code by practicing the code.

the passage into Indian River

I find the Indian River, where it passes under the railroad, to be too fast to paddle against and a bit too deep to wade or portage, especially when there is no hurry.  So, I take some time to just sit, and every once in awhile, I go check the water level to see how it changes as the tide continues to drop.  When I figure the wading to be no more than knee deep, I nudge the canoe up against the left wall, grab the bow line, and step out onto the rocky bottom pulling the canoe behind.  At the far end, I get back in the canoe and give a strong shove to the wall and coast clear of the current.

It is a river. 

It winds in big bends through marsh grass and phragmites.   The bottom is silty mud, the shellfish are gone, but there are kingfishers and hawks and tiny crabs with one enormous claw as big as their body.  In a half mile or so I get to the I-95 bridge.  It is noisy. 

But here, the river changes and I come out of the underpass into a narrow tree lined river, lined with brilliant rust and orange leaves.  Even the water has a sparse carpet of leaves.  The banks climb higher as the river is incised into the rising ground.  The meanders tighten and come more frequently. 

this is surrounded by unseen shopping malls

This is one of those unseen treasures where everything seems wild and natural over the objections of highway noise.  I've been to places like this before.  Most people never know they exist, they would never think to look here.  I am not even sure of my location since there are no visible landmarks.

I turn around when I get to a log jam that would take too long for my day.  I return home wet to the knees and splattered with mud, just as it should be.


Dan McShane said...

Your new paddling area may get interesting over the next few days.

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