Thursday, October 17, 2013

the river in the fall

   A few weekends back I had a bit of time on a Sunday afternoon to take the kayak out on Woods Pond, which is about 5 minutes from where I live. This pond is on the river about a quarter mile up from a dam and is one of the ways to access the river to go north. The sludge in the river is about a foot deep in many places because of the decayed plants and sediment coming down stream and the deep sediment has a lot of PCBs, so the objective is to get into the kayak without falling in and without really stepping in the water. Getting in at the dock is a little bit of a balancing act. Further north there is a boat ramp and the river floor is more solid and it isn't as much of a challenge, though even there I have ended up in the water.         The pond is really not that deep especially with all the lily pads with the water going down about a foot before you come to the mass of foliage. Cutting across this part of the pond is a challenge because the boat gets caught up in the density of the weeds and every stroke of the paddle can get stuck in the vines. The area is quiet and serene and on this day I saw two herons that were too quick for my camera.

The fall colors were bright on the ridge and the water relatively still further up away from the pond. There were only a couple of people I saw in the hour or so that I paddled and they were a distance away.  The river has many nooks and from an aerial view looks like a snake. When the water is high you can get into those nooks that go back into the woods and the there are nothing more that you and the river and the wildlife around.  As the water quickly gets shallow the challenge is always reading where the currents have created channels to get out without hitting the bottom and getting stuck.

As I approached what looked like a pile of weeds a couple feet high I wasn't sure what it was. A nest of some type or a roost built up by some bigger birds. Approaching it tentatively so as not to disturb anything, I found that it was just a pile of leaves and vines sitting on the shallow bottom. From the feathers around it looked like some birds had been around there and perhaps the herons hang out there. It's too small to be for one of the swimming creatures and the muscats tend to live in the banks of the river.

Ending my time and feeling that the weeds gave my paddling arms a good workout, I headed back to the dock only to find a boat stuck on the middle of it and the owner trying to locate a leak. Not a good place to be as it doesn't give too many good angles to hold on to the dock.  Fighting the wind and the stronger current I felt like a little power boat backing up and repositioning over an over to find the best approach were there really wasn't any and the boat owner wasn't too sympathetic. His was a flat bottom boat with a small motor whereas mind was a tipping kayak.  So getting as close in as I could, I took plunge (not literally) and swung my feet over the edge and into the water. My legs sunk up to almost my knees, which for someone my size is a bit. Then I slogged through the muck and out, looking around for some deeper water to wash off the layer of black muck. 

I have written about people at this dock before. They either very nice or absolutely clueless of being in the way of others and this one was clueless. But no harm came and a hose down of me and the boat at home washed all traces away.

Fall on the river is a nice time. A few weeks ago I heard the sound of the bird banders at night. The unmistakable sound of an air-boat starting and stopping as it works its way into those river nooks catching and banding ducks and other large water foul that rest there in the night. When I heard the sound I headed down to the dock hoping to see something but the sound was further up the river and deep in the swamps. It clearly a sound of fall evening when the banding takes place.


Casey said...

Your pictures make me miss New England. Fall in japan is nice, but not the same. Hope you're enjoying it!

Jeff- in the Berkshires said...

Thanks, it's hard not to take in the change in the season especially when my commute brings me in and out of the Berkshires. I do enjoy the views. I was only able to get out on the river ones this fall. A few other times it was just too windy. For now the kayak is on the porch for the winter.