Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Accounting

My observations begin at once and for some reason I notice it more than on my other trips.  The water is low, very low, and the mud banks are exposed and the waterlogged woody debris closer to the surface than usual.  It is not related to summer or short rainfall, which we haven't had, but instead it is the tide.  This oddity of nature that I am in is a freshwater tidal marsh miles from the sea.  In fact, even the strongest of storms will not push salt water into this area, no matter what, not even close.  Anyway, the day is already warm and it will be officially hot, but a good breeze from the southwest moderates it all while the summer sun is stark and harsh and constantly reminds me of the temperature.

Pickerel weed is in bloom.  It takes a front row to the cattails, and wild rice is putting out its edible seed, although it won't be ripe for a couple months.  Great blue herons are the rule of the day.  Spotting or flushing one occurs one after another and during the hour it takes to get to the big river, I have spotted about twenty.  A smaller dark bird pops up out of the shallows and lands on a branch.  I inch closer to find that it is a green heron.  A yearling bald eagle passes over quickly and disappears into the trees.  With all this going on, the most interesting to me is the half dozen cedar waxwings that are all feeding in one small area.  They are an interesting contrast to the swallows and the two feed in different flight regimes.  The swallows are fast and fly clean, maneuvering by keeping steady air moving over their wings.  The waxwings are all MCA (minimum controllable airspeed)...it's flaps down, high power, and low speed.  If little men were flying these two birds, the swallow's pilot would be blacking out from G forces while the waxwing's pilot would be sweating a storm, punching rudder pedals and yanking the control column and throttles just trying to keep the bird on target (an insect).

The accounting is all well and good, but it is not the premium of such a trip.  The best occurs after the accounting (which must be done to just get to the best).  It's when the trip stops becoming an identification job, when creatures and plants pass by not as objects, but as a pieces of the place...inseparable from where they are or where I am.  This is when the land might talk to you...if you are ready to listen.

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