Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finding Ganesha

Note to self:  If you're wearing wool pants to canoe in, pack a thermos of hot coffee.
I woke to a windy day and it seemed that my plans might have to change.  But after a brief and hard rain the air went comparatively still.  I began to scan weather reports looking for the best weather.  I found a spot, and I went there.
I spotted a large fungus at the base of a tree a few yards from the put-in.  I walked over and found a Ganesha.  I don't usually like to leave man-made things in wild spots, but this was hard to spot, besides being someones spirit object.  I let it be.  Besides, Ganesha has all the right attributes for my journey.
I headed up the river deeper into the forest.  The sky was a heavy overcast with a definite possibility for rain.  It was dark, dank and what most people would call, gloomy.  In my mind it was just nature...take it as it comes, experience it in all of its twists and turns.  I hoped to continue upriver farther than I had gone in the past.  I had a gut feeling that I would find high water and easy paddling.  This was, however, not the case.  40 minutes out the river ran low, just as I neared the railroad trestle.  A couple hundred yards of wading would be necessary to go higher.  Instead, I turned back to explore the lower marsh.
The sun popped through just as I passed my put-in.  Somewhere not too far below this point is where the tide is noticeable.  Today's very high tide began to show its stuff - water at the base of the trees, the berm that contains the river (separating it from more marsh) barely rising above the water.  I met a duck hunter on his way out.  He had seen only two ducks this morning.  I told him that I had seen about 30 mallards, but all on my upriver foray.
nest
The side channels of the big marsh were topped up with the tide.  I spent my time exploring a few places that I've not gone to before.  I spotted one dark mid sized raptor with a white butt...Northern Harrier.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Here I Bow Down

Today is the purge.  Nine days in a row of working for the KoolAid drinkers, watching them engage in the tired old games with the belief that they will look good in the eyes of people who have drunk far more KoolAid than they.   Sometimes I think that I am standing far too close to a manure spreader.

The river makes that all, more or less, irrelevant.  I'll do my work, but I will not bow down.

Beyond all of that, here in the marsh where the high tide ebbs with a strong current under bright fall sunlight and a cool sky, beyond all that there is a balance.  I don't count for much here in the marsh, nor should I.  I am here at the mercy and pleasure of something far greater that I will never fully understand.  Here, I bow down.

The day is quiet and few birds are about....1 Great Blue Heron, 3 Hooded Mergansers, 1 Kingfisher, a dozen Yellow Legs, 1 unidentified hawk.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Real Purpose

I didn't come here to look at the birds and I didn't come here to look at the new beaver dams and lodges, which went up in the last two months.  Of course, I would do all of these things, a fortuitous by-product of my real purpose, but not the real purpose.


I was here just four days ago.  I come here five or six times each year between April and the freezing in, so two trips in four days is a bit of compression.  If I lived closer, I would probably spend most of my paddling days in this swamp.

Wood Duck and Kingfisher
Four days ago the water was high when I put in at the lower end of this stretch.  Today, I start up at the top and the water still looks high, very high in fact.  I suspect another new beaver dam not too far down river.

The water is deep and dark, the bottom rarely appearing.  The narrow river is wider than normal and the "step-overs" - bank to bank logs - are either paddled over or end run.   A half mile in I begin to flush wood ducks and mallards.  I spot a large hawk and one kingfisher.  But best of all, it is a good and easy paddle in the deeper waters. 

When I get near the only bridge, I can gauge that the water is about two feet deeper than it was four days ago.  It is a by-product of a strong storm of heavy wind and rain.  I also wish that I had brought a bow paddler with...another by-product of that storm is that there are strands of spider web and spiders everywhere and I am constantly brushing them from my face.  No doubt they are rebuilding their traps.  I paddled over three beaver dams without noticing them...high water.

There is something about finding new beaver dams and lodges that buoys the soul.  Particularly at this time when we have an immature brat running our country, corporations trying to cash in on the last of the oil reserves before climate change kills us and threats of warfare...so much shortsighted stupidity.  Finding a new beaver dam and lodge demonstrates to me that some parts of the world go on functioning as they should.  Beaver build dams to protect their lodges and territories.  Wood ducks take cover in the flooded shrubs, woodpeckers feed and nest in the flooded trees, fish lay eggs, survive and do better in the deeper and cooler waters.  No matter what is going on in the inhumane human world, the beaver do what beaver do.  The marsh grows, the trees get flooded and die, the marsh silts in, the marsh becomes a meadow, the beaver move to another place, the meadow becomes a forest, and that is continuing is comforting.