Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Child of Nature

I started the day down, thinking too far ahead in life and daunted by the work ahead.  Sometimes one needs a reminder of why they are here.

I carry the canoe down to the ocean under a heavy thick and humid sky where the clouds are so laden with moisture that it can't all stay put.  An oysterman working his allotment provides the only noise, his well muffled engine thrumming five hundred yards out.  The town looks asleep and the gabled houses that crowd the shoreline seem to be two hundred years old when seen from a distance through the murk.  Of course, nothing built that low and that close to the water could last so long.

A third of the way to the flag rocks, it begins to sprinkle and I put my camera away.  Then, I hear static approaching from over my shoulder, and in a few seconds the front line of a rain squall sweeps by me.  It dissipates in a couple minutes.  I hear some thunder, but it is very far off, probably well over Long Island.  Not two hundred yards further and I hear a louder static with a much richer tone coming from behind.  It is a momentarily eery experience.  Again, a line of rain sweeps by, this time with heavy cold drops.  The surface of the sea dances in white splashes.

I drift into the Oyster River on the last ten minutes of the flooding tide.  I notice immediately that I am flushing more ducks and since it seems a bit early for migration, I decide that these are probably ducks that were hatched nearby this summer showing off their new flight feathers.  Five snowy egrets and two great egrets are perched on the downed tree.  I'd like to explore the third of a mile above them, but decide not to disturb them.  I edge up against the bank and just watch.

Heading back out, I notice that there is a good current running under the very low bridge that I've never bothered to slip under.  This amount of flow indicates more than just a wet spot on the other side.  I duck low and slide through finding a good channel that runs a third of mile back through a spartina marsh before petering out as a shallow well-treed creek.  I flush 20 ducks, several snowy egrets and two hard to identify herons.

The great egret has a yellow bill, the snowy egret has yellow feet

I return home, paddling a calm sea, weaving through the flag rocks without disturbing the oystercatcher.  I return home, my child of nature refreshed.

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