Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Other Side of Fall

Today is the other side of fall.  My last trip was sun and warmth and bursting autumn colors of red and yellow and pink and orange.  Days like that hide the fact that the water and the earth have been giving up their store of heat collected over the summer.  A month ago, an overcast day like today would have still been warm.  But today, without that sun and on the other side of fall, the day will carry through with the morning chill.

I set out, resizing my life vest for the pile jacket that is going underneath it.  I like my fall weather clothing.  It is comfort clothing, the garb I wore ten months of the year back in the Pacific Northwest.  The wide brimmed felt four-dent hat goes on as do the knee length rubber boots.  The only thing I leave out is the wool pants...its not that cold, yet.

There are some new birds for me today.  The nesting willets gone, the yellow legs have come in for winter.  They are not nearly so numerous, but there are plenty of them and they seem particularly vocal today.  I flush a kingfisher from the rocks of Cedar Island.  Kingfishers usually do short 75 or 100 yard hops ahead of the canoe until after 2 or 3 of them, they circle back to their starting point.  This kingfisher takes to the air and circles and bobs, scolding me nonstop until I pass.  If the general public and Southern California animators had known more about birds, we would've grown up watching "Woody Kingfisher" cartoons instead of "Woody Woodpecker" - woodpeckers being rather shy and retiring and anything but smart alecks, unlike the kingfisher.  At least they got "Heckle and Jeckle" spot on.

the other side of fall

The river changes most when I pass under the stone arch bridge.  The underbrush has lost its leaves and I can see that the hill to the east is actually a 75 foot high outcropping of stone.  To the west I see a dry stone fence running through the forest - two things that were hidden from me by summer foliage.  But, more is going on here.  The river is tree lined and there are forests behind the line in many places.  I see and startle several large schools of fish...200 or more at a time it seems - so many that they disturb the surface as they flee.  And those two things draw the third.  There are some medium to large hawks on the hunt, and two or three immature bald eagles, standing out just by their size.  I'm in the lunchroom.

I stop my ascent at the deadfall just before the little flat bridge knowing that at this tide level, the water is just inches deep on on the far side of the passage.

On the return, I turn east up an inlet in the marsh that I have passed several times before.  A flock of black ducks that jumped out of there earlier has my curiosity up.  The inlet meanders back to the forest and I find the remains of an eight or ten foot tall stone and earth dam.  At the base of the dam is a channel built of two long and shaped boulders forming a fairly precise flume with a deeper basin on the downstream side.  It is a shape engineered for a purpose, no casual spillway.  I'm guessing that a mill stood here once upon a time.  If so, it looks like it had had an undershot wheel...the dam not being tall enough to have the more common overshot wheel.

It rains lightly for the last 15 minutes of the trip, just to remind me to start packing wool gloves.

East River

1 comment:

Dan McShane said...

Stay warm. That first picture was stunning. I liked the line about it being your clthing garb 10 months of the year at your former home.