Saturday, August 2, 2014

Racing the Rain

I wake up to rain and, when I crawl out of bed, it is still raining.  It is raining while I make my coffee, and it is raining when I load the canoe on the car.  I skip breakfast because it is raining.  I am racing the rain and if I don't hurry, it might stop.  It is still raining when I finally push off from Pilgrim Landing.

I planned on heading upriver into Lord Cove, but the wind is stronger than I expected and it seems that I might be in for a beating as I return to the put-in.  I turn around after a couple hundred yards and head downstream onto a mile of river that I've not seen before.  After that I can finish exploring the Lieutenant River.
fog making sculpture at the Florence Griswold Museum

I am ditching the funhog*.  In the west, at least a third of my days in the canoe were in the rain, and one quickly learns the advantages.  I almost always had the water to myself.  Rain cancels funhog plans, and it also cancels the sounds of civilization and softens the intrusion of distant structures.  Being a funhog isn't the worst thing in the world - I was once one myself.  At least they are out in nature, and sometimes funhogs develop into something more layered.  A friend of mine looked at me one day and told me that I was a deep ecologist**.  I had to look that up, but the description fit pretty close.  I had come some distance while not paying attention.

I leave the big river where the Lieutenant River comes in.  It doesn't take long for it to narrow into something comprehensible, and this is where the egrets also begin to show up.  Only a few shoreline fishermen share the day with me and the birds.  Numerous osprey whistle and perch in riverside trees while an egret steps slowly, slowly, slowly, making no waves and no ripples... as it moves in on prey.  A great blue heron flies off before I am anything that I would call near.  Where the river widens into a marsh edged pond, I paddle off to the east until it shallows, a few inches deep with large widely spaced boulders...a typical waterscape for many of the tidal rivers that I explore.  I turn back and try the west channel, which turns out to go a is a place that the satellite photos do not show, and the river goes further than I had thought, until it shrinks to a canoe width in the round terminal marsh that is bounded by forested hills.

And, it is still raining when I lift my canoe from the water.

*Definition: Funhog
1. One who uses nature as a playground without seeing the deeper meaning and purpose of nature.  Identifiable by hooting and hollering and a garage full of mostly unused outdoor equipment.  Rarely knows where they are or what they are looking at.
2. Bear food

**Definition: Deep ecologist
One who believes that everything in nature has worth and is to be respected, whether or not you understand its purpose and whether or not it has some utilitarian value to man.  Or, as I like to say - there is value in knowing that if you hike in bear country, you might get eaten by a bear, and if you hike off trail in wilderness, there is value in knowing that you may be lost and never found...and this is the way things should be.

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