It is customary for me to wake my wife in the morning with her first cup of coffee, I being the early bird and she the night owl. She looks over in the predawn darkness and says with a tone of happiness, "canoe pants", my outfit telegraphing the day's plan.
It has become noticeable to me that there are more than a few people who watch for me to go out in my canoe. Not only do they watch, but it seems that they encourage act, waiting to find out what I will find, or think, or create from the experience. It is what draws me to being an artist, that regardless of how the "other" world sees it, the people within my world support and encourage acts of curiosity and creativeness. I feel most fortunate.
Over the past two months, I have been managing a reasonably large art exhibition project. It keeps me off of the water, but it does introduce me to new people...people that are inside "my world". Some of them will join me in the canoe sometime in the future, but today is for myself.
In that time, the wild rice has been eaten or dropped into the marsh, the cattails have gone tan, and most of the birds are in some phase of migration. The transition seemed fast and early this year, possibly propelled by a dry summer.
I go inland away from a windy coast that will also bring a low tide during the middle of my paddle. I end up in the northeastern hardwood forest on a tidal river a good distance from the sea. It has not rained much of late and the river is low well before the coming low tide. I follow the river downstream through the trees and out onto a great marsh. A great blue heron being the first bird of consequence that I find. And, looking into the sun, I spot the obvious bobbing flight pattern of a kingfisher, it's colors erased by glare but the ID positive none the less.
I go on my way spotting herons, a small flock of coots, an empty eagle's nest, and a number of smaller turtles out gathering the last of the sun's heat before winter sets in. When I turn back at the meeting with the big river, I join the landscape and become observant without classifying what I see. It is the time when one is most available to what the land holds. But, a familiar call interrupts that place, for a moment...a very late osprey lands in the branch of a tree at the inside of the bend. I think it should be south by now, and it reminds me of the Salmon River osprey that I watched last year up until the river began to freeze in. I wonder why they stay, I wonder if they make it through winter.