I started out with a new paddle in my hands heading from shore and into a cool west wind with a steeply falling tide that created more current than I would normally see. Tidal currents in the big salt marshes are either out or in, upriver or down has little meaning. It is unpredictable, the high points in the maze being only a few inches above the lows. All that matters is that you are out before you run short of water.
The new paddle is light and well balanced. It is one piece of western red cedar, something I carved a few months ago that has been waiting for the right design. I can feel that it has spirit. It may not be as fast as the other recently finished paddle, but it has more life. When I switch sides I give it a spin, just a gentle kick with the tips of my thumb and fingers. It spins as if it will not stop in the loose grip of my hand. The grip is a carved wavy shape some 20 inches long and painted red. With each a wave of red passes my eyes. This paddle has some spirit.
The spartina has gone red - about the same color as the red gold in my wedding ring. It is positively lush considering it is going into winter dormancy. I flush a good size flock of black ducks from the inner corner. Then I head to the point. As I near a flock of geese takes off. At first I think, Canada geese, but they don't enter a formation and their wing beats are too fast. In two minutes they circle back close enough to hear them...brandts. I spot a red loon.
I continue upriver though the Nell's channel taking in a few of the dead ends that lead into the interior of Nell's Island. Then I continue on my way.