The guy rows his dinghy back to shore from his small sailboat that is moored in the North Cove at Essex. We talk some, he's a good guy. He asks if I have seen the eagles behind Knox Island. I haven't. And, I'm not sure where Knox Island is, and I don't ask not feeling that I need to know.
I head out through the cut in the long marshy spit that forms North Cove, the cut being the shortcut into the main channel of the Connecticut River, and then I follow that spit of marsh upriver. An osprey flies into view with a mature bald eagle chasing it. They circle overhead for a few moments before the issue is settled, and they go their separate ways.
I was heading to Hamburg Cove, a deep inlet on the far side of the river that gradually narrows to where Eight Mile River comes down from the hills. But, as I top the island that stands off of the mouth of the cove, wading the sand bar instead of going around it, just because it is pleasant to do so, I change my course. I follow the east side of the river, ridges and hills of bedrock with a very real "carpet" of forest - a thin layer of soil and moss stitched to the rock by the trees that have managed to find a crevasse to bury their roots in, I follow it upriver.
I start to think of spirit animals, for no particular reason. One has to be careful about talking about such things, I suppose. People who are afraid of the wild and afraid of wandering in the unknown won't understand. I have learned to quit trying to understand...it's just something that is. I've met a very few people that are in the same mindset. They are especially good company in the forest. In "The Abstract Wild", Jack Turner wrote about the old weathered male cougar that was his spirit animal. Such a fine spirit animal to have. I always thought that mine might be a beaver or a caribou. But, finding a spirit animal doesn't seem to be how it works. Rather, it finds you. Mine came in the most vivid dream I have ever had, a dream that came after many frequent days of canoeing, a dream that took place, or at least, was centered around a canoe. My spirit animal was a squirrel....a squirrel that ran wildly about the middle of the canoe making that part of the canoe glow. It was not just a squirrel and I don't know why I knew it, but I did, it was a female squirrel. And, it seemed to me that it was my creative spirit. When it left the canoe, the canoe stopped glowing.
I go a ways up Hamburg Cove, but not all of the way. I return to the river and head downstream, past Essex and into the South Cove for the first time. There are several swans, and one swan nest, which the unrelated swans are keeping at a distance.