Monday, October 22, 2018

Kissing the Forest

October winds arrived last week and kept me off the water for some time.  Often I return from a break and find myself limited to noting observations.  So, I was pleased to have thoughts flowing through my mind not a moment after setting out.

There has been much change during the short break.  Today, the temperature will peak at not much more than 50 degrees.  There is a wind that I would consider pleasant on a summer day, but today that wind will be the primary cause of the chill in the air. It is the first day this fall that I have worn my heavy wool trousers and they will be not the least bit too warm.  And, I put a recently carved alder paddle in the water for the first time.

The new paddle has a somewhat fictional river painted on it.  I was more interested in painting than in researching maps for actual rivers, so I painted my own river.  It is a river that in its entirety does not exist.  But, the details - the meanders and ox bow lakes, the braided sections and sand bar islands, and the tributaries, these all exist.  It is my river and no one else will ever recognize that.  Within the first half dozen strokes I know that it is a good paddle.  Being of alder, it is a bit heavier than the cedar paddle that I've been using this year.  The trade off is that the hard wood is more durable.  I am in the habit of selecting a paddle to use for a full year and this one is an instant candidate.

I set out just after the tide had peaked, or maybe an hour after.  In either case there is a good strong ebb with a contrary wind.  The canoe travels upriver just a hair faster than the waves created by the opposing motions.  It is a 2 to 1 current, unexpectedly strong for this river.  I head up the Neck River and Bailey Creek and through the Sneak, the water high enough so that I have an expansive view across the salt marsh.  The marsh is contrary as well.  The three foot high grassy dikes that run through it are in reality low land, the low land occupied by the tall spartina alternaflora grass.  The grassy dikes are actually channels and ditches.  The low spaces where spartina patens grows are the high land where the tides only flood a few times each month.

Fighting the current, I figured that paddling all of the way to Foote Bridge was not necessary.  It seemed only right to go so far as to kiss the forest.  However, when I got passed the stone arch bridge and kissed the forest I found that, even though I've been here a hundred times, I needed to go around the next bend to see what was there.

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