Thursday, December 27, 2018

Burying Ground

I've always hoped that this journal would get at what I was feeling, how being in my canoe in some river or swamp, or some wild place changes the soul.  It doesn't always work that way.  Sometimes my entries are just lists; went here, saw this, saw that.  It's not the best of nature writing.  One of the most important reasons to preserve wild places is how it makes us feel, and how it puts us in our place.  But, sometimes the thoughts aren't there, and sometimes the pencil doesn't come out when it is needed.

I passed a burying ground on my way to the put-in.  Burying ground is a term that I had not heard until moving to New England.  I like the honesty of it.  Now, when I say passed, I really mean "passed".  This little plot of 5 or 6 tombstones lies directly next to the state road.  There is no wall or fence and barely a foot of earth between the graves and the pavement.  I'm glad that the rule of the day when this road was put in was to not move the graves.  There is something quite honest in the burying ground being left as it is.

The current in the big river is faster than expected, which is probably due to the low tide a dozen miles downstream giving a little extra space for the water to go.  There is also an unexpected wind coining down the river.  I change my downstream plans and go up instead, preferring the luxury of coasting for the end of the trip.  Grind now, coast later.

The current doesn't slacken one bit until I am passed the remains of Gillette's miniature railroad, which looks to my eye as if he intended not only to replicate a railroad, but also some of the rail disasters of the 19th century - he built several precariously located trestles along the cliffs overhanging the river.  Gillette was an actor who created the most familiar version of Sherlock Holmes.  His batshit crazy mansion is preserved high above on the bluff as a state park.

The current finally lets up when I get to the lowland that contains Chapman Pond.  I turn off the big river and take the half mile meandering route into the pond.  It is calm and the sun makes it feel warmer than the day actually is.  I flush about 50 Mallards and no less than three Great Blue Herons.  I stop here to write and an Eastern Bluebird lands in a tree above as if to approve of my arrival, or at least confirm that I am no threat.  I had to look this bird up when I got home and was surprised to find that we are in the northern end of its wintering territory.

I exited Chapman Pond through the upper channel, a straight man made cut that was dug by some 19th century shad fishermen who were being denied access through the lower channel by a landowner.  Then, I continued up to the Goodspeed Opera House before turning around and speeding back.

No comments: