Tuesday, September 11, 2018

For What Ails You

 I've been out of sorts lately, it's something that goes with the job description of being an artist.  In my previous career as an engineer, much of my life was laid out and planned well in advance.  I knew that I would be working on some project for the next four months and that some new project would arise before completing the first.  Life ran on inertia, so to speak.  Art is different, so very different.  Most of the time you start something with no idea of what you're going to end up with.  Sometimes, you just start hoping on faith that something will come of it...it usually does.

I head out a little later than normal today.  The lateness is to coincide with a very high tide in the East Marsh.  The river will be 6 to 12 inches above its banks.

I put in from Foote Bridge up in the forest knowing well enough that the launch parking lot will flood with 8 inches or more of salt water.  I flush a Green Heron from the opposite side of the bridge as I get settled in the canoe. It takes ten minutes to get to the Gravel Flats, which are already under four feet of water, and in that ten minutes I have spotted ten Great Blue Herons, three Kingfishers, two Snowy Egrets and three Green Herons.  The word is out with the Kingfishers and Herons that the feeding is good on the upper end of the river.

I dawdled my morning at home by reading the Mountain Journal, a website publication of nature related writing by people in the Yellowstone region.  There was a fine interview with the incoming superintendent for Yellowstone.  When they transferred the long standing former superintendent out, I suspected that they might be replacing him with a "yes" man.  Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.  His strongest skill for the job might be that he hasn't met and pissed off the wrong people, yet.  My interpretation is that someone pulled a political favor and got the former superintendent moved out, probably due to his views on wolves or bison.  Anyway you look at it, that's a pretty shitty thing to do.  I figure that if some management guru gets around to writing, "10 Terrible Habits of Lousy Managers", vindictiveness will be in the list.

I don't know what this is...it's in the flooded spartina
I don't spot any Osprey until I'm below the Stone Arch Bridge.  I've noticed that they don't seem to do much fishing when the water is high.

I ride a flood current into the Sneak and make a quick and easy pass of it.  When I get to the Neck River, a Harrier skims by on the prowl...6 ft above the spartina...a little bobbing and slight weaving with the eyes focused on the ground.  It goes on until I lose it in the distance.

I turn up the East River and explore a side channel that I've not been into.  It meanders in towards the forest, but the grass is a bit to thick to force the route over the spartina into the next channel upriver, which is about 300 yards away.  The highlight is flushing a Clapper Rail, a bird I've heard but never seen before. I retrace my path to the river.  Then I cut across the spartina over to Bailey Creek noting that a lot of Gulls are out here floating around.  Then, I cut across the spartina crossing the Sneak and intersecting the Long Cut. At the Big Bends I leave the river again and cut through the panne to the Rockpile.  I ride an easy flood current all the way to the Gravel Flats before the water goes slack.

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