AKA, More than you ever wanted to know about a canoe trip and my thoughts about it.
Ron and I took the canoe out this morning. Two weeks ago I finally figured out how to make a “hard” to launch the canoe. The term “hard” refers to a packed earth slide, down a riverbed into the water; these were used to launch completed ship hulls, back in the day of wooden ships. The shipyard would then add the top hamper—masts, yard arms and rigging—once the ship was water borne. There is such a place in
I made my hard from plastic trellis, which I bought last year for the wild blackberries. The harvest thereof was so poor, I ripped up all the brambles. The 3 trellises—trelles?—are 2 feet by 4 feet long and I laid them end to end, from the bank onto the mud of Lucas Creek, where the fiddler crabs live. I drove in stakes; a wooden coat rack with 4 pegs; and 2 iron shepherd hooks made for hanging plants. The later at 3 feet tall provide the surest hope of permanence.
The hard worked very well this morning. Ron got in the stern of the canoe and I pushed it down the hard into the creek, with the stern line wrapped around a tree. I could clamber into the bow, holding the rope, while stepping from the trellis. The last time we tried this maneuver, I sank ankle-deep into the mud, and it sucked the Crocs right off my feet.
We set off, upstream, gazing at the docks and grounds of our neighbors. The creek meanders through the poquoson, the reed beds of cordgrass.
It has been a long time since we paddled a canoe together. We had a canoe as newlyweds in
Ron always took the bow in those days. It is the power position because you can dig the paddle straight down into the water slightly ahead of the bow and lever the paddle against your hand nearest the water. Doing a J-turn with the tip of the paddle keeps the water from drowning the stern man.
The stern position is the guide. Paddling, yes, and, indeed, this is where a lone canoeist—canoer? canoester? canoedler?—sits; but the paddle can be turned side up in the water to act as a steerboard. This trip, I took the bow, as Ron’s shoulders are causing him great pain these days. I gloried in feeling my arm and shoulder muscles pull the craft along. If I am to dwell in a huge body, at least let it be strong.
We made our way under
Though we had gone past scores of red-wing blackbirds perching on the tallest of the cordgrass, we were complaining about the dearth of wildlife. Then we rounded a bend to find a muskrat swimming from the shore. Swimming muskrats look like tiny beavers, with just the square head showing, but when he saw us, he dove underwater, showing his ratty—not beaver-like—tail. Our neighbor’s son used to trap muskrat and sell them. He made far more money this way than on his paper route. The fellow who bought them cured the pelts and sold the meat to some black folk to whom this was soul food. Imagine the luxury of having your rat caught and skinned for you!
As we passed the U-bend of the creek, we caught up with a swimming family of 6
We went a short bit further, then turned around to return home. As we did so, 4
Thus it was that we saw the three natural states of geese -- on ground, on water and in the air.
“Swallow!” I called out.
“Gulp,” said Ron. But I was pointing to a small, swift, fork-tailed bird.
2. Tinker on
cCarol Kerr Buckles
Oak Grove Landing