Monday, November 14, 2016

The Circumnavigation of Cedar Island

I came here for the record high tide, 6.8 feet at the nearest gauge, a match on the highest recorded.  It is a rare opportunity to see the salt marsh awash.

But, I put in at Foote Bridge, up in the forest.  The launch at the lower end of the river will be a foot deep in salt water in an hour or so.  I head down plowing through a thick band of leaf litter that lays where the main current of the river is, a meander of leaves within the meander of the river.  It is thick enough to slow the canoe.  The water is already so high that I can paddle well off to the side.  I pass the little cedar swamp, I flush a flock of mallards and black ducks from the well submerged gravel flats.  The river is glassy, the fog that my exhalations make doesn't align with the warmth of the sun.  The air is still catching up with the sun.

After the railroad bridge, which for a change I have to duck to pass under, I enter The Sneak.  The short spartina, the great majority of the salt marsh, is awash - deep enough to float the canoe, not quite deep enough to paddle. 

A light sea breeze begins and I suspect it will be welcome as I return against an ebb current.  From Bailey Creek I strike out into one of the old WPA mosquito control ditches.  It peters out, but there is enough water to keep going across the flats.  Tall grasses signal deep water (the tall grass being spartina alternaflora, which grows in deeper water)... it is backasswards to the eye, but the highest vegetation is also the deepest water. 
Cedar Island

I stop briefly on Cedar Island after spotting a large amount of oyster shells in the bank.  It may be cultural or natural, or both, but it appears to be eroding from the bank down to more than a foot deep.  It would've been a good dry place to collect shellfish, whether you are man or animal.
oyster shell fragments
I paddle a short distance up the East River and take another WPA trench back to the Sneak.

I was asked to show the new red handled paddle that I wrote about yesterday/  I commented on how it felt full of spirit.  Spirit is something that you feel.  It is what these 700+ canoe trips has become, a seeking of spirit.   No photograph or painting can do justice to being in the canoe surrounded by forest and marsh and river. 
The red handled paddle
No image of a paddle can substitute for having it in ones hand, for feeling it slice cleanly through the water, for having it do everything it is supposed to do.
Spirit is something that requires all of the senses, including the ones you don't know about. 

1 comment:

Cathy DeMeo said...

The red handled paddle rises! Yes! Thanks for the pic.