Friday, December 4, 2015

Working Waters

Insanity prevails in my thoughts as I head out from Essex into the North Marsh, which is the short passage into the big river.  Such has become the civilized world.  A 1/4 mile off, three white swans sweep in from around the forested point and the washing begins.  Ahead lies the balanced world, complex yet composed, unknown but predictable, as long as one stays humble and respectful.  Nature always wins, know your place.

Ely's Ferry in the distance

When I enter the river, I spot Ely's Ferry, or what remains of it, across and up a ways, nothing more than a beach at the end of a road, a long time since any ferry crossed from there.  There is small shack on pilings near there, reminiscent of the boat houses that people build in front of their lakeshore houses, ruining their view and the view of their neighbors.  But this shack is a very old store house, mid 19th century if I remember right, and well maintained.  A work building for working waters.  Farther up are the two Ely houses, I suppose 200 years old.  They are the same size and symmetrical - nine windows and a central door on each.  The light colored one has two chimneys, the red one has one central chimney.  I've never seen them from the land side, but it appears that the front door faces the water and I imagine visitors coming by boat.  Homes for people that worked working waters.

The Ely Houses

Today marks the first day of winter canoe season.  It achieves that through my choice of clothing.  It is the first day since spring when I have donned my drysuit, a decision made by the size and temperature of the water.  I head upstream into the wind, against a current that is aided by a draining tide.  A large bird on a drift log spreads its wings.  The feathers match the wood and I would have missed it if it had not moved.  Eagle sized, it turns out to be a turkey vulture.

working boat
Near and hour and a half out, I cross the river to the bottom of the Selden Channel.  A couple hundred yards up, I stop to photograph some trees.  When I take the camera from my eye, I find that I am being propelled by the wind at three or four miles per hour.  It is windier than I thought and so it is time to return across the river and make my way towards Essex.  A bald eagle awaits at the entrance to the North Marsh.  It is not amused by my arrival and it goes.  It has work to do.

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