Monday, October 1, 2018

Old Coots Day

I woke up in the middle of the night with a rough draft of a poem running through my mind and this all seemed to be a solid signal that I should go canoeing in some body of water that was geographically fitting for the poem.
In the Mattabesset River

A short, older and more grizzled man drags his kayak by a rope from the parking lot down the rough stone path to the water while I am gathering my gear.  I do the short 75 yard portage and find that guy already gone, which is a surprise since the typical recreation boater usually takes something like an hour to get their boat launched.  I head out downriver, the water high with rain runoff and the current faster than normal, but still gentle.  It is a pleasant day, heavy overcast in the sky and temperatures in the low 70's.

I catch up with that guy in about a half mile as he comes out of a backwater.  He is a good paddler and I pace him from behind.  I sense that we both want to paddle alone and I am giving it a bit of time to see if he maintains his pace.  He eases up in a few hundred yards and I go ahead.

At the beaver cut place there are three lodges where I seem to remember only two.  One is a crude bank burrow, one has had recent home repairs of added mud, so it is definitely occupied. The third is the one I don't remember, so it may be new.

In the big open marsh below the forest I spot three Great Blue Herons and two Mute Swans.  A short way farther on I sight a Harrier prowling.  Their hinting style really is an airborne prowl.  It weaves and dips, skimming across the tops of cattails and wild rice.  I've seen quite a few Harriers this year and I do not know why I have not noticed them as often in the past.

I pass another old coot in a kayak coming the other way.  We exchange a few brief pleasantries.

At the first point below where the tributary enters, the air is thick and heavy with the scent of beaver castoreum.  The humid still air is holding odors in place.  I spot a couple of swans ahead and a large fish splashes behind me.  After a minute, I begin to wonder if that splash might have been a beaver tail slap.

Near the railroad bridge I spot six wild turkeys.  At the bridge I spook a Green Heron.

At the big river I take a turn around the long island, there is almost always an island where tributaries come in.  The island will extend the trip to a length where I can be farther away than I am.  It also give the other old coots a chance to be alone on their trips.

I don't see all of it, but that beaver confirms its presence by making a diving leap from the bank into the river.  It surfaces and we watch each other for awhile.  As I head on, I spot another Green Heron back in a small inlet.

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