I delay my start by 15 minutes talking with a goose hunter who is about to go out on the last day of the season. He knows the area well and understands the terrain. We have a good talk.
I head up the Neck River, the tide nearing high, with a good flood current aiding my progress and making the land swiftly pass by. The Sneak will be an easy passage if it is ice free. We had a recent snow of a foot or so that was followed by rain. The weight has finally crushed the spartina flat and the marsh takes on a tired and worn look. This is of course, just a pause in the life of the marsh before it grows green and lush and provides a place for the birds that will come with the spring migration.
The tune of "Pancho and Lefty" plays in silence in my head. It is a good tune for the canoe, even if I don't know the words. I read water as I paddle, tracking on bubbles and bits of plant material, watching it swirl or cross the channel, watching it shift direction to avoid some well submerged obstruction. My favorite read is the delicate thin line, so fine that it could very well be a loose fishing line, a strand of spider web that shows the discontinuity between two currents that differ by almost nothing. The lines can be 20 or 30 ft long and I try to steer clear of them in hope that they will go on forever.
There are a good number of geese in the center of Ox Meadow, the lower marsh now having a name...that I learned the name from one of the locals on one of those stream side chats. Some of the geese flush and some of them stay. I'm never closer than 200 yards.
I turn at Foote Bridge with a quick greeting to two women setting out for a hike in the forest. The tide is almost slack, hard to tell if it is ebbing or barely flooding...so it makes no difference.
I retrace my route back to the sea having experienced one of the most beautiful days of the winter.
Historic Paddle Photo: 1907 - With Gun and Guide
7 hours ago