Thursday, August 27, 2009

Everything is So Blue

I'm back on the water after two weeks. The day is warm, but the wind is light. I am lazy and don't take advantage of the cool morning, putting my canoe in during the heat of the day. But, I put in on the sound and the millions of gallons of 57F water cools the surrounding air and it is all quite pleasant. I head from my favorite Elliott Bay launch west to 4 mile rock and then north to Discovery Park. I see two osprey as I paddle along the bluffs and also a flock of small sea gulls. A very large person in a small kayak wallows in my direction, but I turn around and paddle back. I'm watching the trees and shore for birds and I look forward and there is the black head of a seal, or perhaps sea lion, watching me. It disappears the second that I notice it. I forget to reset my camera's white balance and all of my photos are blue.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


All morning, my head has useless clutter echoing inside. I can't get started on anything, don't want to make art. It's time to be away. I walk my canoe to Lake Union. It is mostly calm and cloudy and it could rain at anytime. I head out across the lake towards the Fremont canal and when I get there I decide to keep heading west. Once through the canal, the paddling becomes much more industrial, but in an interesting way. There are a couple of tugboat companies, including Foss, who have massive ocean going tugs and their own drydock and shipyard (the tugs in the photo are a competitor, Foss's boats are green). From here I keep going all the way to Fishermen's Terminal where the best fish-n-chips in town can be had. I eat near the fishermen's memorial, a very nice piece of sculpture in the right location. I head back and take out and Good Turn Park and walk a mile and a half home. There is less clutter in my head.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Salt Water

It rained last night for the first time in a couple months. Today it is calm with a very light breeze and I put in on the sound north of the ship canal. I paddle south to West Point along the outside of the breakwater. Boat traffic is light and what there is seems to be timing itself for the locks or the draw bridges - the draw bridges don't open during rush hour traffic. There are caspian terns and some small murrelets or auklets (I can't see them well enough to ID) and a few great blue herons, which are sunning on top of the rocks. The tide is moderately low and when I paddle through the kelp bed south of the canal, the bulbs "bonk" off the bottom of the canoe. At West Point, an osprey circles low hunting for fish and none of the people out on the point notice. I return closer to shore, more caspian terns, gulls sitting on the beach in a separate flock. I turn into the ship canal and paddle up to the locks. Several kingfishers are goofing off up here. I imagine that the lock and dam create good feeding for the kingfishers, there are always some present. I take the photo on the way back out to the sound and then return inside the breakwater. There are jellyfish in the water and they look like a huge egg that is being poached, milky white with a yellow core and some white strands floating beneath.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Today I put in halfway down the big lake from where I live. I can paddle over to the tree lined shoreline of Seward Park, which is always pleasant. There is a breeze out of the south today on this cloudy and humid day. It is not really a light breeze or a fresh breeze. It is a distinctly soft breeze where the air gently folds and wraps around any exposed skin and one feels enveloped by it more than anything. I paddle across to the rich island and back, stopping along the shore of the park to fill one of my ballast buckets with blackberries.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cedar River

I went to the south end of the big lake today. I found a place to launch in a park on the SE corner and head out towards the mouth of the Cedar River. The lake is warm, the air humid and calm, the sky is cloudy and it is a comfortable temperature for a summer day. The mouth of the river is littered with large trees that have been washed down in the spring floods. The water is shallow with the rivers deposits for quite a ways into the lake. Geese, ducks and herons are making good use of the drift logs, I even spot a female merganser, a bird that is not seen on the lake too often at this time of year. The bottom 1/4 mile of the Cedar is an easy go, the water is deep and much colder than the lake, it's source the mountains some 30 miles distant. I spook a coyote on the west bank, and it trots ahead of me for awhile, very wary of my presence. The next 1/4 mile is increasingly difficult as the river gets shallower and faster. I get out and wade for a couple hundred yards, the water never rising above mid-shin. The only way up the river at this point is to wade or pole, and I do not have a pole with me. As I descend the river, my coyote friend comes back out and flits ahead of me in the high brush.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Green Lake

I'm in Green Lake today. The lake is near the hill tops and it drains into Union Bay where I paddle more often. A 100 years ago the lake drained on the surface via a nice little creek that ran through a deep ravine until reaching the large marsh that formed the north end of the bay. Now, it runs through pipes, surfacing for it's run through the ravine and then back into pipes until it hits the bay. My mother swam in Green Lake in the 1950's as a member of the Aqua Follies, a touring synchronized swimming troupe. She says that the lake was filthy then and that many of the women got eye infections and that she had to wash her swimsuits twice to get the smell out. The lake is cleaner now, no motor boats and improved sewer systems, although it still has an occasional algae bloom or outbreak of swimmers itch. What I like is that it has a big sky with the surrounding ridges well back from the shore. The shoreline increasingly takes on a natural appearance from the water with willows and reeds and the city's persistent removal of invasive plants. As I finished my first lap around the lake I spotted a green backed heron sitting on a snag.