Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Pill for Restlessness

It rains a no account sprinkle - drops making well spaced circular patterns in the river, but barely wetting my gear.  It is cloudy, a thick overcast creating a dim and windless world, the rain degrading the vision just enough that the spartina marsh could be a midwest wheat field. But, it is spartina, thousands of years of spartina probably going back to not long after the glaciers receded.  It seems odd that something so stable provides the relief for my restlessness.  It also seems odd that as soon as one writes "no account sprinkle", it begins to rain.

The tide is going out and the current is fast, faster than I remember paddling against.  This is winter...short days and many of them too windy to paddle.  Waiting for favorable tides might mean waiting a week.  Deal with it.

I paddle up the insides of the bends, slicing across the river as it meanders and taking in the weird sideways slide relative to land that the fast current creates.  Winter in the salt marsh is quiet with most of the birds gone and all of the turtles and fiddler crabs put away until spring.  As I near Cedar Island, a rather large mature bald eagle takes wing and flies a 1/3 of a mile west to take a perch on an osprey nesting box.  A couple of yellow legs watch me from the shore until they decide to put me out of view.

At the big bend above the third bridge, a second mature bald eagle comes from a tree.  It takes a big wide circle around the broad marsh that defines this section of the river and then flies back and past where I first saw it...gone.  At the next bend I roust 14 Canada geese that fly farther upriver where I can bother them again.  I spot a couple kingfishers.  They are unusually quiet today.  The normal chatter and flying back and forth from bank to bank just isn't what they have in mind.

At this point the day brightens, although the clouds remain solid.  Something is happening above and the extra light comes with the first breath of wind.

What winter does in these parts is let one look into the past.  The forests bare, the old dry stone walls of former farms can be seen, their layout not one of grids and compass headings, but more an undecipherable wandering of convenience for a farmer that moved those stones by hand and walked the hills to keep track of his animals.  I notice one that stands out more than others.  I beach my canoe and walk up the hill to find a well built rectangular enclosure, the walls still square and solid, but no longer used.

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