The sea is calm under a sky of of low haze and filtered sun with Long Island visible only as a darkened smear about where one would guess that the horizon lies. In conditions like this, birds on the water can be spotted from a mile away but remain unidentified. Even at a hundred yards, they are silhouettes and recognized only by behavior or shape, their colors dissipated by indifferent light. The scaups take wing first, the long tailed ducks chatter incessantly, and the loon lies low but so much larger than the ducks behind it.
The canoe races forward, a result of the smooth fast water and my two weeks stuck on shore. I wipe the grin from my face and slow down to a pace that I can maintain for the day. This is my second winter in these parts and this winter is more of a winter than the last, which seemed pretty mild. We have had a month of cold air, which froze the freshwater streams and ponds and finally, the salt water marshes. Even Gulf Pond froze over, the ice thick enough to survive the twice daily fluctuation of tide, the air cold enough to freeze salt water. But, it was the wind that came with the cold that kept me ashore. Even when it subsided some, it just didn't leave enough margin to be safe. Today is different.
|Charles Island from Merwin Point|
I slide under the rusty bridge on a flood tide and find nearly all of the lower half of Gulf Pond open. Only at the top, where the pond is cut in half by a road and bridge is there much ice, and that is off to the side and out of the current.
I slide under that bridge and into the upper half. It takes just a few minutes to explore the upper waters. It is frozen over except for a small area near the bridge where the tidal current flows the fastest. There will be no visit to the Indian River, which I imagine is frozen fairly solid anyway.