I put in at the top of the big phragmite marsh and paddle hard upstream for about ten minutes. That takes me past the last vestiges of the industrial zone, past the first road bridge, the first railroad bridge, and the highway bridge. Not much further on I come to the first cattail marsh - where the river bends sharp to the right, where I find an apple tree growing horizontally out from the bank, not long for the world in that orientation. The apples are ugly, the ugliest apples that I can remember. They are two or so inches in diameter and a mucky uneven red-brown color. They look rotten. They would not sell in a grocery if they were five cents apiece. This is swamp land, not anything that would've been orchard, so I figure this to be a wild apple tree. I take one and find that it is hard fleshed, not rotten at all, and cutting it in half the inside is white. I cut a bit from the center and taste it...not bad, tart but perfectly edible. I would use them for baking if it grew in my yard. I would have them to myself, because they are one ugly apple.
The forest river begins.
Now, the map says that I've been here once before, but maps can't be taken for their face value. My memory of wild places is pretty good, better than most by far, but the things I remember are missing. It's near high tide, the current just barely pushing the fallen leaves upstream. I was last here at low tide. By now I was weaving in and out of down trees. Today, I paddle over them at speed on a channel that is fifty feet wide and running clear and clean.
I go well past my high point, even if I don't know exactly where that was, and begin seeing the remnants of previous people. Old block walls built to contain the river and prevent erosion are still evident, if not entirely effective, and I spot a few dilapidated wire garden fences. I'll check the maps later, I suspect that there were some poorly situated houses around here at one time.
|A big wasp nest, dangling from a wild concord grape vine|
I stop to turn back and take the time to eat some of the raisin soda bread that my neighbor gave me yesterday. I was hoping to paddle as far as any good landmark that would locate me on a map, but the river isn't cooperating. And, I have stopped toting my battered GPS receiver since it never came out of the pack and frankly, it just kind of annoys me. Sometimes, nature wants you to not know where you are. It really isn't that important, and it seems to do a person good all the same.