The morning starts slow. I have been preparing a very large abandoned building for an art event and this weeks work has been physical. Morning comes feeling like the fifth day of a canoe trip. My heart says, "canoe," my brain says, "lie on the couch all day," and my shoulders and arms say, "just give us a little time to get into this canoeing idea."
I go inland to a river that I've not been on since spring, or maybe before spring. There is a possibility of thunder showers and wind and those things come best on a 60 yard wide forested river rather than a square mile of open salt marsh where my head is the highest point.
I put in at the Gifford Pinchot Memorial Tree. It is a sycamore tree nearly 30 feet in circumference and over a 100 feet tall. A reasonable memorial for the first director of the National Forest Service, a man who made science and stewardship part of caring for forests and wild lands.
I start upstream as I usually do on out-and-back trips on rivers. A narrow lane of forest shelters the river, which is ten feet or more down from the top of the banks. If there is any wind, I do not feel it. The river is as shallow as I have ever seen it. We have had a dry summer and I guess that the water is about a short foot below where I've seen it in the past. I follow the deeper water when I can, winding up stream within the winding of the river. The canoe has no problem clearing the bottom, but at times the paddle runs a bit in need.
It takes a half hour to make a first bird sighting - kingfisher. Followed soon by a great blue heron that will do three five hundred yard hops up river until turning a half circle around me and heading back to where I first saw it...a pretty typical observation for them.
I wade the gravel bar. I have waded this bar before, the water on either side too shallow and fast to bother with. It is the same as in other years except that the wade is just a little bit longer. I flush 19 common mergansers and an osprey. I think that most of the mergansers have been hatched earlier this year...they can all fly at this point. I also add a few more heron sightings. Then an immature bald eagle goes to air off of my right side...and that flushes a mature bald eagle behind me...it had let me pass without my notice.
Somewhere in the township of Avon the wind arrives. It bends the tops of the trees and mostly remains vertically distant from me. When it does come to the river it swirls and arrives from different directions rippling the water but impeding me little. I turn and head back, a little faster with the current, a little fresher with the occasional breeze. The mergansers are back where I spotted them. The herons have returned to their territories. The eagles and osprey are not seen again.