Wednesday, February 13, 2013


A long stretch of dry land comes to an end.  I portage the canoe on my shoulders from our new home on the east coast down the hill to the water.  Three feet of snow fell not too many days ago - it is a winter scene although the air is warming to 40 degrees under a nearly clear sky.  My neighbor, who is out walking her dog, sees me preparing the canoe in the snowbank that was our driveway, "Now, you are fantasizing," she says.  I reply, "no, I am going."

The walk is easy, except for the last bit, a 40 foot stairs down the seawall, a stairs that is knee deep in snow.  But, canoes slide well on snow and I just lower it with the stern line while walking behind.  A loon wails.  It is the call of a common loon, a bird of my Minnesota youth.  I translate it into "welcome back, where were you?"   It seems odd to me that on the very first day that I put my canoe in from our new home, such a bird should come to greet me.

I head up the coast in waters I've not yet seen.  When I near the rocky point a mile up I spot a long tailed duck (formerly called and "old squaw").  It is silhouetted by the sun, but there is no mistaking it.

As I continue, edging along the rocks, I find a sandpiper that I do not know.  It has a very pointed bill with yellow at the unusual feature for something like a sandpiper.  I find a few more of them.

Purple Sandpipers

In Seattle, I called days like this "tennis ball days" because they were calm enough that I could spot a tennis ball (non-biodegradable dog toys - I guess people think that stuff they throw in the water just goes away) from a 1/4 mile or more.  But, there are no tennis balls out here today.  Instead, it is bird calls.  Bird sounds are traveling unimpeded over unusually long distances.  There is a nasally "uh-uha-uh"...starting with a low note, peaking with the "a" and returning to the low note.  I've not heard it before.  I track it to a small flock of ducks that turn out to be long-tails calling back and forth. I see several horned grebes.

The put-in.  The take-out.

I head down the coast, past my put in, to the next point so that I can see the layout of the next cove, which has a creek that drains a large marsh that will be a future trip.

1 comment:

Dan McShane said...

Welcome back to the water fro me too