Sunday, September 4, 2016

Interview with the Bowman

Today I took my friend, M, out in the canoe.  M has a pretty nice radio interview show on WPKN FM out of Bridgeport and she came up with the idea of interviewing me in the canoe.

The spin off of a hurricane down the coast was supposed to bring a windy and gusty day along the edges of Long Island Sound and the places that I planned to take us looked less appealing as the day approached.  Instead, I took us up to the top of the state, which, per the weather service, not see the storm for another day.  It was a perfect day.

We set out from the Somersville Mill Pond with M marveling at the twisted and broken remains of the town's textile mill.  The mill spans the river just below the pond, the river actually passing under the building itself.  It was abandoned and intact until about the time I moved here, when three trespassers on a night ramble dropped a cigarette and burned it down.  FYI, they were caught.

Anyway, we set out up the pond spotting a green heron in no time, adding to that a great blue heron, adding to that a great egret and a bunch of ducks.  A quarter mile up the pond we turned into the Scantic River and the trip began for real.
Rosie preparing to attack the Louisa

The Scantic is forested with a fair amount of downed trees in the water.  It is broad enough for the first half mile, but then it narrows to creek proportions turning back and forth upon itself.  It does not take long before we have to twist and duck to get under trees.  We add kingfishers and more green herons to our sightings.

I found on my first trips here a healthy population of beaver with a nice 2 foot high dam holding back a fine pond, which had a large lodge out in the center.  On my last trip here, a year or so ago, the lodge looked a bit disheveled and I wondered if they were still here.  When we turned the bend and could see the dam the answer was clear.  In the last year someone has cut through the dam and with no apparent repairs, it was safe to assume that the beaver had been trapped out.  Now, this pond behind the dam was far too low to threaten any property and I explained to M that some of my fellow outdoors people don't do too much reading...they still prescribe to the idea that beaver are destructive when, in fact, they are known as a "keystone" animal, creating a great amount of habitat for other species.  But, I've run into these knuckleheads before and it's a rigid and less than learned "the beaver ruining the river" belief.

One other problem with the cutting of the dam...the water above the dam was shallower than usual.  I then explained to M that there are canoe routes that depend on beaver dams...routes that go up small rivers from pond to pond...routes that go to impassable trickles without the beaver.

We discuss our favorite river journey movies.  We both agree that "Apocalypse Now" and "The African Queen" fit the bill.  Once in awhile one of us calls out for Rosie or Mr. Allnutt just to inject some humor into the next canoe dragging/wading in the mud event.

We struggled for twenty minutes or so figuring our way through the former pond.  Sometimes we did a simple limbo.  Other times we stood and stepped over a log and back down into the canoe.  And a few times we had to climb out and balance on a log while hauling the canoe up and over.  All the while the interview continued and I'll be interested to hear the mix of art discussion with discussions of how to get over/around/under the next log.

We turn back at about half of my usual distance.  We're not discouraged and we are definitely having fun, but log hopping is plenty strenuous and time consuming.

Sorry about the few photos.  When you're balancing on logs and wrestling with a canoe the camera stays in its waterproof box.

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