Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Canoe Paddle---Part 3

Now for the last part, because I did leave out some good stuff.  One cannot say that I do not pay attention.

We had left the bay and paddled out to the wide part of the Potomac River. We were at the place where it is about two miles wide ( I am guessing here).  And I am always a bit wary of open spaces in a canoe...especially those waterways that have motorboats.  Fortunately, it was a calm fall weekday, with few people about.  We passed these workers below who were using some dredging equipment.

Hubby thought they were looking for sharks' teeth which can be worth some money if large enough.  I hope they had a permit working in the bright daylight that way.

We paddled on looking for a nice lunch spot as we were getting hungry.  Some outdoorsman left us this little retreat and a small beach.  We pulled up the canoe and unloaded the small cooler and found several beached logs on which to sit and watch the world go by.

The two kayakers we had met earlier waved as they passed along the shoreline.

Beaches along such a windward side are full of all kinds of detritus, treasures, and garbage and fun to explore with a sandwich in hand.

This is where I found the teeny tiny black shark's tooth fossil in the sand.  Low tide was our friend as this beach is mostly underwater at high tide.

The day was calm and relatively warm, which tricks you into thinking you can stay forever.  Behind our beach-log chairs was a large sand-fall that showed how dangerous things can get at high tide.  We spent about 30 minutes exploring and taking photos, then, reloaded the canoe and put our life vests back on, and pushed the canoe back out into the river to paddle back up to the bay and our car.

More bald Eagles soared overhead in elegant acrobatic dances.

As I wrote, the shoreline is dangerous where high bluffs have started to erode and fall into the river.  This is why there are shark's teeth fossils.  They wash out from the ancient layers of sand that collapse onto the river's edge.  This is also was why I was surprised to see a dog walker who seemed not to fear an unlucky event such as the collapse of the shoreline above her head.

She had a total of three lovely and sloppy-wet water canines that she was following/watching.  Her husband remained safely down the way on a high bluff and waved as we paddled by.

Eventually, after much paddling, we reached the bay once again and hubby decided to explore the right-hand side which was just a small turn-in that we had not explored in a few years. So we turned just before we approached the dock for pull-out.  As we got closer, we heard water trickling which is most intriguing on a flat bay, and paddled further to find one last treasure.

We came to a dead stop as this bluff of mud and grass emerged and those of you who frequent the out-doors may have guessed what stopped us...

...a large and well-maintained beaver dam.  While did not see any beavers, we were impressed with the work.

Thanks for staying the length of the trip!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Since You Asked and I am Procrastinating on Food Shopping

 Here we go on Part II of that canoe paddle.  I was pleased that many of you found this Mallow Bays/Potomac River trip as interesting as I did.  A canoe is confining to the muscles but so freeing in how you can cruise about on an afternoon into tiny places so silently that even wildlife accepts you.  We did encounter two couples of kayakers and exchanged pleasantries...but those who are out for an afternoon of water sliding are usually not out for an afternoon of conversation and small talk and we quickly went our own way. (I think you can see the kayaker below in the distance.)  (If you want to know more about Mallows Bay you can Google it or go to the link in my prior post.)  As always you can click on photos for a bit larger view.

Bay waters were at low tide, so much of our moving met dead ends in the marsh.  As we decided to head out to the wider river we found that the only way out was to disturb several Cormorants, commonly called shags, in some areas.  They are the ones that are trained in Asia to fish.  Some have blue eyes.  They have webbed feet and a throat that can expand to a pouch.

The old wharves of the bay have decayed into beautiful abstract gardens that get even better in the fall.

There are only a few boats that sit high enough that you can see some structure and remnants of their grand old days.  Each year they seem to sink a little more.

The starlings were moving in.  Most people hate these invasives as they damage other bird wildlife and displace them.  Someone introduced them from Asia to Central Park many years ago and we all regret that, but you can find their air ballet throughout the Internet.

We left the harbor entry and headed toward the bigger part of the naval graveyard.

Only metal bolts protrude above the water in most of the area, even at this low tide.  We were careful but also found the birds fun to photograph as they staked their claim to parts of various wrecks.

My husband was the first to hear the call of the white swans in the distance.  They were on their migration path from up north and rarely seen in such large groups for any length of time here.  If you squint you can see them in the distance.  I like the way the colors of the woods and sky in this photo look a little like an old painting.  

There is a place down in some southern states where swans winter over and we once visited there and I want to go again postCovid.  It is a muddy area and hard to get to and requires a 4-wheel drive, but fun to find them all together.

Well, once again this post has become longer than I expected.  I guess I will have to save the water dogs, beaver dam, etc. for another time.  

Sunday, November 15, 2020


I am once again taking advantage of the nice fall weather with my husband.  We have been trying for a canoe trip every few days.  These past few days we canoed Mallows Bay which I had visited years ago and actually posted about back then.

This time we were a bit disappointed.  The weather was calm, beautiful, and just warm enough for the exercise of paddling.  But the water was cloudy, the boats had sunk deeper and became more camouflaged.  It really was a bit dangerous to float over this boat graveyard in the fragile fiberglass canoe.  We were careful and had no super close calls, but it was only at great effort and paddling in only first gear!

The bay opens onto the Potomac River and we had moved out into the more open waters just as one of those 500 HP speed boats headed out to the Chesapeake.  It was far away from us, but we (especially my waterman hubby) knew that we would eventually get some effects from the wake that the speedboat was creating in the distance.  Hubby was smart enough to have us paddle like crazy and tuck behind the large wreck that still sits tall at the mouth of the Bay and whose large hull would break the waves that could tip us over.

A lone crow stood watch over an abandoned osprey nest in the stern of the old grounded ship.  The crow was making some noise at us and I was hoping it was not "Nevermore" as the waves broke against the hull of the rusted ship.  At least it was not a raven.  We paused for about a minute as the succession of waves moved around us.  It was an autumn weekday, so there were not many boaters out and about, thankfully!

As we paddled south along the shore of the Potomac we saw our share of Bald Eagles who seemed passive about our presence and I used sports mode to try and get photos of them with all the movement of us bobbing in the water and them flying in the air.

They are certainly elegant and graceful with those long wings.  They have a wingspan of 5.9 to 7.5 feet, such a great flying machine.

We moved to areas of high cliffs and erosion that line this great historic river as it flows to the larger Bay and then the ocean.  Some trees were claw-like in their death as if fighting to the last.

I was wondering how much the river will swallow in the coming years.  This post is long, so I will stop and not write about the water dogs, the fossil tooth, the huge beaver dam, and our lunch in the shade of some man-made shelter.  Maybe another time.  Thanks for coming along and before you head back,  I really could use some help pulling me out of this craft after four hours!!  I cannot feel my feet.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Is the Party Over Yet?

This fall is peaceful and warm.
It is bare shoulder and not sweater weather.
We drink in fall beauty with a guilty pleasure
Since such weather is a warning and not a gift.

In other places, the Earth has shrugged
And boulders fell from her shoulders
And trees caught fire
And the skies filled with choking smoke.

Others drowned in stormy waves
Rushing inland reaching window sills.
Waves playing with well-anchored boats.
Wind peeling the tin roof from homes.

Far North of us, those waiting for snow
Have instead found their land melting-
Melting into the ocean
Or peacefully letting go and bobbing like some lost cork
from a Champagne bottle drunk too liberally.

The party may be ending but I will drink again to autumn
but with the last glass of cider
and not a celebratory glass of Champagne.

(When you center text, you can pretend it is a poem.)

Friday, November 06, 2020

Autumn Reflections

The world goes around and even though it seems more slowly in 2020, I still am a bit dizzy from the various side whirls that it creates this year.  Escape is ever-present on my shoulder whispering sweet nothings into my ears.  She pulls at my earlobe and breathes sweet autumn air under my collar.  With persistence, she has forced me to shed my concerns and sadness, and apprehensions in an ashen pile like discarded rags at my feet.  I must be careful to step over them and not trip and fall flat-faced into reality.

Each day is a new opportunity to see a different angle of light and tone of respite and new possibilities.  Each day is another open start.  I accept that and drop my shoulders in resistance.  There are hidden paths to quiet and peacefulness.

I am restored by outdoor meet-ups with family.  Our faces remain camouflaged, but I see twinkles and sparkles in their eyes.  Some eyes are too young to focus on the long-range of things.  Other eyes are cautious and penetrating when not distracted by the daily interruptions of technology.  

The Bible says something about lilies in the field and their unworried lives, but I am compelled to notice the birds in the woods who are preparing for winter as they do every fall.  They also do not concern themselves with other issues.  Yes, they watch for that hungry hawk and they study the lack of movement in that cat-shaped shadow behind the oak tree trunk, but they move on in balance and accept that life moves on as well.  Maybe we are all part of a plan?

May your autumn drag you outside to see how the world goes on in spite of mankind's desire to be in control.