Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Cousin Has a Kayak (Reprise)

My previous post about my cousin’s kayak was a short squib based on my first hours on Long Lake. I spent many more hours during the weekend in that kayak before and after the sun and the parade of power boats made it unwise to be on the lake during much of the day. Being a morning person, I was up and out well before sunrise each day, even setting out in the dark on my last morning. The lake was very quiet that early, the water smooth as glass reflecting the full moon, low in the western sky just above the far ridge. Since I had the lake all to myself the in the morning twilight, I paddled out of the marshes to the open water in the middle of the lake. My kayak glided across the water with ease and I was able to explore around a bit farther than on previous trips.

Inevitably, sunlight illuminated the western ridges and slowly proceeded down slope to the water. As it moved, I worked my way back into the shaded marshes in time to see the loons and mud hens heading out to feed in the lily pads. A pair of ospreys glided overhead, looking for fish unlucky enough to catch their attention. One dove into the water just in front of me. Not just a strike on the surface but a full out, splashing dive followed by about 10 seconds of boiling water before the osprey surfaced and flew off empty handed. Later I saw an osprey overhead carrying a fish. It was joined by what I thought was its partner but was a bald eagle trying to steal the fish, unsuccessfully as it happened.

The eastern shoreline was well shaded at this hour, the sun still low in the east. Long after the open water was shockingly bright, I could paddle about in a life-filled habitat, or at least that part of it not wholly changed by human hands. Long Lake is well peopled but still supports some of its natural life in quiet backwaters I could reach in my cousin’s boat. It wasn’t much work. A few times I had to paddle hard to crash through lily pads to reach another channel but most of the paddling was easy enough. Two days running, a heron launched itself almost across my bow as I hugged the shore. The encounter was sufficiently close that I could see its great length, from long beak to extended legs and tail. Large wings propelled it forward in what almost seemed to be a run but was very low flight. Each time I heard its raucous call just as it appeared out of the brush and each time I was surprised. On my last day, the heron flew to a spot not far from me where I could watch it with binoculars. Twelve hours later when I was back for evening twilight, it was pretty much in the same place.

In all Long Lake wasn’t a bad place to be. It was fun seeing my cousins and brother. We told stories, learned more about our disparate family and ate a hell of a lot of excellent food. I brought Minstrel Boy truffles. Altogether 15 adults, one child and four good size dogs attended. It was enough to make the 700 mile trip worth it all. Seeing eastern Washington for the first time was fun. The drive across I-90 looks almost identical to I-40 through northern Arizona. Except that I-40 doesn’t cross the Columbia River, which even drowned under the backwater of a dam, is still damned impressive. The return trip seemed more tedious and not as interesting until we headed into the Cascades and an incoming storm front. We crossed Snoqualmie Pass in the rain and had intermittent showers all the way back to Olympia.

Between the trip and work I haven’t much inclination to sit in front of a computer and write so posts are becoming more infrequent. I still have as much to say but beyond clarifying my thoughts here and there or reacting to specific events, it’s pretty much already written somewhere in the archives here. You may be seeing less of me here. Or not.

Oh yes, I understand some politics has taken place this week.



Blogger Jim said...

Wonderful writing once again. Took me right to the lake.

I had some parallel experiences during my vacation on a lake in Michigan.

And, similar to what I think I'm reading from you, for the time being I'm going to be spending more time pursuing outside interests and less time reading a CRT...

8:00 PM  

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