Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the Ember Forests

The ferry docks and disgorges its cargo of two cars, ten dollars worth.  There's been a ferry at this location for over 200 years.  There's something to be said about that, just not sure what it is.

The ferryman climbs down out of the bridge and walks over to look at my canoe.  He has no schedule.  If a car shows up, he takes it across.  If a car shows up on the other side of the river, he goes over and brings it back.  It's about 15 miles in either direction to get to a bridge.  Anyway, he comes over to look at my canoe, which is just a polite invitation for a chat.  I hand him one of my cedar paddles, why look when you can touch.  He tells me about a restaurant out on Block Island that is decorated with painted oars... second time someone has brought that up after looking at one of my paddles.  A car shows up on the other side...a polite way to break off the conversation on a day when there is no hurry to do anything.

I head across the river in calm with a sun that is just starting to warm everything.  I head into Whalebone Creek, an inlet that I've bypassed on prior trips.  A hundred and fifty Canada geese fly out in four groups while I head in, but I am not the reason.  Perhaps they nighted in there, or maybe they were just flying through the gap in the hills.  It is a beautiful forested wetland.  The remaining autumn leaves are red and orange, ember colors, and the forest feels like it is radiating heat, I feel a glow on my face.

I spook a few common mergansers, then some mallards, some wood ducks, a few black ducks.  The coots stay put, or at most, skitter a short ways into the cattails.  They always seem to be in a panic.  The first branch that I try dead ends in swamp, but the second takes me on a longer and more circuitous route that turns out to be the creek.  I hear a duck call as I make my way, but it sounds like an idiot trying to sound like a duck and not at all the sound that any normal duck would make.  Might be a blind back there...but I'm well out of pellet distance.

Back at the big river I turn down and head to Selden Creek, which is not really a creek anymore.  I explore the several inlets that branch off of it, I have passed those before just as I had passed Whalebone Creek.  The inlets are surprisingly good...wide enough, deep enough and long enough.  One is near a mile before I backtrack.  I fill in blank places in my internal map.  I spot a couple hawks, one is a red tail, the other is too far off.  A heron lets me pass by, a kingfisher dives and catches, I keep paddling.

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