Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back in the Salmon River

7 Cormorants
68 Mute swans
5 Great blue herons
7 Bald eagles
16 Canada geese
1 Osprey
1 Kingfisher
4 Mallards

Mouth of the Salmon River

I don't stop until I reach the Leeville Dam, although I do not make that four miles with any sort of diligence.  When I roundedthe first bend, which is where the river opens up into a broad cove, I spotted some cormorants, an immature bald eagle and a large flock of swans.  Strewn over the water ahead of me, for perhaps the next mile, were thousands of swan feathers, white and clearly visible on the calm water.  I zigged and zagged grabbing as many of the feathers as I can, because I have a plan for them.

The river has houses, but many are tucked back in the forest, all but invisible to me, a design for living in nature that I highly approve of.  Where there aren't houses, and there is a great amount of shoreline that fits that description, small signs show the land to be National Wildlife Preserve or State Forest or Nature Conservancy parcels.  Some of that is the "no admittance" type of National Wildlife Preserve, a benefit of a former atomic power plant that no longer graces the skyline.  As much as I might like to walk there, the fact that it has become wild because no one can is satisfying from the seat of a canoe.  The river is notably quiet on this windless morning...a buffer of forest and hills between here and any main roads.

The Leeville Dam was built on the site of a waterfall in the 1860's.  It now has a fish ladder to help with recovery of Atlantic Salmon and a few other fish species that were strong enough to clear the falls going upstream.  The portage past the dam is nothing difficult, but today I'll just pass on that.  I stretch my legs getting the lay of the land and then return to the canoe.  I passed a few turns and bays and inlets and marshes and tributaries on the way here and I want to explore them on the return.

In a freshwater tidal marsh, the flowers go swimming

It is the last tributary on the way out, one that heads of easterly, that is most interesting.  It is the "tunnel of water through the trees" - a favorite type of stream for me.  The shading trees enclose the stream in a leafy canopy and the water has no straight sections.  What is ahead is always around the next bend.  I could take a hundred miles of this, but that never seems to happen, and I take what I get.

At one point, I catch a nice sweet scent, but can't place it and find no blooms in sight.  I continue until about 3/4 of a mile in the stream becomes a very shallow cobbled flow that won't float the canoe.  As I return, I stay alert hoping to find the plant attached to the scent...and I do.  They are feral grapes (possibly concord), and not having had wild grapes before, I bite into one as I would a grocery store grape.  It is good, but has several large seeds that surprise me.

Feral grapes

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