Well, I am debating whether I can manage without taking my iPad Mini this summer. I already know I can’t live without my binoculars and GPS and SPOT and phone and probably my camera, at least for the latter part of the trip. So here’s my first “phone-only” post!
We’ve been away for the first bit of April vacation, so yesterday morning was my first paddle on the open waters of the lake, totaling 6.6 miles.
Going out, I was headed into the wind, but got quite a push from the current on the usually placid river, about 1.5 mph. On the way home, thank you wind! Birds galore: swallows, flickers, buffleheads, an osprey, Canada geese, and a pair of very vocal loons. I thought I heard a kingfisher, but have yet to see one this year. I may add a couple more photos from the camera after this experimental post works. More soon on our explorations earlier this week…
Spring just makes me want to grab hold of life with both hands. To sit in the sun and absorb the warmth with all my being and, yet, to say a lingering goodbye to the waves of icy air that are still flowing from the patches of ice marooned in the woods. I am restless, not least of all because I am in the process of leaving my lay ministry job and embarking before long on my paddling trip.
Poetry is new for me, but today’s just seemed to write itself:
It Doesn’t Take Much
It doesn’t take much, this time of year, to lift a tired heart.
Just a quiet hour to roam the woods, to wander with springtime dreams.
Rubber-clad feet sink deep in the mud, but at least it isn’t ice.
No slippery, sliding, breath-taking suspense to see if you’ll stay upright.
Just a cushion, a carpet of softest duff, welcoming, moist and brown.
It doesn’t take much this time of year, to feel the throb of life.
A barred owl calls in the height of day…”Who cooks for you?” he asks.
Then comes a sound to drown out them all, a chorus of horrid croaks.
“What species is this?” you want to know, so stealthily you sneak near.
Quietly perch near a murky black pool that gradually comes to life,
With tens or hundreds of busy gray frogs in a noisy springtime dance.
It doesn’t take much, this time of year, to find beauty at every turn.
No need for a violet, a lupine, or rose… a humble skunk cabbage will do.
Squat down to look closely as the new plant unfurls,
And you’ll be amazed what you’ll see.
Bright shiny purples and pale mottled greens have a beauty all their own.
No, it doesn’t take much this time of year, for hope to spring anew.
This brilliant Monday morning was yet another gem in a string of true spring days. Lily (my black lab friend) literally bounced along on our early morning walk and I felt like bouncing too! Up she scrambled to the top of one of the few remaining snow mountains, then tore down to explore the mysterious muddy smells emerging from winter’s blanket.
The woodland symphony added some new members this morning. Joining our old friends the chickadees and woodpeckers were the first thrushes trilling from both sides of the road, between the impossibly deep drumming of not one, but two, pileated woodpeckers. The soft clucking of a distant turkey might have been lost, had we not stopped to enjoy the thrushes.
Yesterday on the river, the story was the same…life blossoming, spirits released from the rigid ice of winter. I am still paddling my kayak, with the new canoe scheduled to arrive early in May. I paddled the Pemaquid River from the visitor’s center to the bridge and back, about 4 miles.
Thought you would be interested in yesterday’s river wildlife list: wood duck, ruddy ducks, mallards, other yet-to-be-identified ducks, ospreys, great blue heron, swallows, and a painted turtle who was hanging out on the river bottom. The ducks were again great in number, rising in flocks long before I approached, with sometimes a group of delicate, downy feathers floating to mark where they had been.
Late this afternoon, I paddled the river again, going as far as the lake, where I met an unrelenting barrier of ice, then back to pull the boat out (about 3 miles). As my dog-sitting stay ends tomorrow, the kayak now waits at home for ice-out, when it will take up residence on a nearby lake.
Today the temperature reached 60 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. After joyfully noting this miracle, I hurried home to walk the dog, then set off for the river, where I promptly came as close to being stuck as has ever happened with my RAV4. I guess you really can’t just drive ANYWHERE with aplomb. A bit of maneuvering and I was back on the gravel boat launch drive and unloading. What a joy it was to slide my kayak into the water for the first time in 2015.
Remember those stories of the earliest wilderness explorers, who wrote of vast flocks of waterfowl, more than could be counted? That was the Pemaquid River today. I felt like an interloper, one who had arrived weeks before human presence was allowed. On every side, ducks took flight and Canada geese honked belligerently from the water and on the ice.
My muscles know that I paddled today (and did my upper body workout with the weights). There is that familiar little nagging stab in my back, about halfway down and more to the right than to the left. Today I logged the first 2 miles of what will be many hundreds for the year. It was a good Friday and also Good Friday, with worship at the Bremen Union Church after my paddling adventure.