Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wrapped in Mother Earth

I need forest.  There was a very high tide coming that would make a trip in the coastal salt marshes special, but I need forest.  I needed to be wrapped down deep in nature, surrounded, enclosed and held by mother earth.  I needed water beneath me, water in front of me, and a bank full of tall trees to guide my route.

I put in next to the Gifford Pinchot sycamore.  Two women were standing next to their paddleboards at the put-in talking about texting of all things.  I would head upstream and I was sure they would head down.  I loaded up and left with my usual efficiency.   (I've been known to cook breakfast, take down camp, pack up and canoe off in a 1/2 hour).

The thing with the Farmington River is that it looks better than it is.  Filtering out noise from a couple of nearby roads is not a real problem for me, but I always know that the river is an illusion of wildness with tree lined banks that aren't forests but rather thin buffers between farm land and golf courses.  Today, there I spot several Great Blue Herons, three Green Herons, a few Kingfishers, a brood of Mallards and two broods of Common Mergansers totaling 24 individuals!  There should be more, but a thin line of trees is unsuitable habitat for so many animals and birds.

The memory card on my camera goes belly up and can't be fixed in the field.

I pass a noisy flotilla of daycamp kids as they weave down the river.  They're pretty excited about their canoe the point that one would assume that they'd all just eaten a pound of candy.  It's a great thing for kids to be doing, and the river seems that much more remote as they disappear behind me.

I turn back after about two hours.  I intended to continue farther, but the curiosity that pulls me around each bend is not there.  I know all too well what is up ahead.  I drift for a few minutes until I nod off once or twice, and as I'd rather not wake up in the water, I resume paddling.

The filtered haze of clouds that was there when I started has begun to stack up vertical into cumulus rain clouds, and they start changing from white to blue-gray, and very distance rumbles of thunder begin, and I welcome the unpredictability of thunderstorm weather.  A beautiful female Ruby Throated Hummingbird drifts across the bow of the canoe taking its time to get across the river and letting me look long at her colors.  She has bold white spots on her tail.  With 10 minutes or so left to paddle I spot a bolt of lighting.  The sound takes many seconds to reach me.

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