Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PADDLING AROUND

click on pictures to enlarge I'm out here again doing my usual thing. Excellent weather conditions exist at Indian Boundary Lake today. There is not a breeze and the water is mirror calm. I just now pulled the canoe over to the shoreline in order to catch my journal up and possibly sight an otter or two with the binoculars. The otters have eluded me. Perhaps the tourist noise has driven them deep into their dens until dusk or even darkness. I laid out my office and sat on a log to write and keep watch on the lake. I have hopes that if I sit here long enough I will be able to see them as they swim. I have a great vantage point here where I can observe the lake in its entirety. On the way to this spot; I paddled slowly along the edge of the lake. I carefully placed the paddle into the water so as not to create any sound whatsoever. At the mouth of a small inlet I heard a Kluck, Kluck. It repeated in rapid succession. I carefully eased the boat around a point of land that hid the inlet and slipped along the shoreline keeping under the trees that lined the waterline. There in front of me was a duck I had not seen before. It appeared to be a grebe but they were found on the big lakes in the valley. I guess they could be up here high in the mountains. These birds did not appear to be the same species as the ones I have seen on Tellico Lake swimming with loons. The beak appears pointy and not as blunt as a mallard or a pin tail duck. My friend Paul looked this bird up and determined it is a pied bill grebe. I also have searched the internet and have found pictures that reinforce that determination. Pied bill grebe it is then. I keep being interrupted by continuous loud splashes emanating from the center of the lake. A large fish is evidently feeding on smaller fish that are swimming close to the surface. He must be a super large fish. The little grebe I found was about a foot long and gray in color. He would dive under water and emerge as far as thirty feet from his spot of disappearance. I have a National Audubon Society bird field guide but it is very deficient. I believe I'll purchase a Kaufman's Field Guide soon. A movement in a tree and on the embankment catches my eye. Yep; squirrel country. This little fellow in the tree is stuffing himself with nuts. He would hang down off the branches and literally eat upside down. The nut shells fell into the water with little plunking sounds. His appetite was insatiable. The little mouth worked unending. Shells fell continuously and his little mouth cheeks bulged. He would grab for new nuts even before he swallowed the ones in his mouth. He was great fun to watch. A large red headed woodpecker landed on the squirrel tree but moved immediately to the back side of the tree and did a disappearing act. A kingfisher occasionally flits back and forth from one side of the lake to the other. They are so very hard to photograph. I am to meet my friend Paul up here today. It's been a long time since we paddled canoes together I look forward to seeing him. That fish across the lake is driving me nuts with all his splashing. I can see a spot of yellow down the lake. That's Paul. That Esquif Champlain is a gorgeous boat. Paul handles it expertly and it is pleasurable to watch him paddle closer and closer. Paddling a canoe is a graceful pastime, I believe, and it is a definite example of form and function mixed with elegance and grace. Canoe's allow intrusion into the natural elements with a high degree of dignity and respect by disturbing nothing. I later found out that Paul had been fishing for about an hour. He caught a few fish and hoped to have more luck. But mostly, he was just fooling around. Today was just a day to mosey around the lake and drop a line in the water once in awhile. Fine mess of bluegills sir. Yep; fine catch. Well; nice couple of fish ya got there sir. We only saw two people all day. A few gun shots and some hounds bellowed out in the distance. But, all in all it is peaceful here on the lake today. I just wish the sun didn't set at 6PM. By the way; I caught a couple bluegills myself. They are small but beautiful. Of course I let them go. Only a mother could love this face. It's not often I have anyone along to take pictures of me, especially when I'm paddling. Paul was good enough to take a couple shots of me paddling. I was interested to know what the canoe looked like with the stabilizers attached. They really make the canoe ride with extreme stability. My secondary intention is to take Douglas along with me in this boat. My primary reason for attaching this mechanism is to protect the expensive photography equipment that is in constant peril of becoming immersed in an upset. Very bad! The stabilizers proved very, very stable. Below is a rather dashing picture of yours truly displaying professional form. My photography gear and writing pad sit on the center seat of the canoe. Note that the stabilizers do not touch the water. They are there to catch and upset if needed. They are required equipment if Douglas goes alone. I really love this! A link to the site where I got the stabilizers is below. I highly recommend them and they do not interfere with paddling or handling. The quality is excellent and they attach and detach in thirty seconds. A great product for sure! http://www.sailboatstogo.com/v_page.php?content=stabilizer_length or the maker www.Springcreek.com/ It is getting late and we have to paddle back down the lake. Today has been great! Canoeing is one of the joys of my life. I enjoyed the day and I enjoyed Paul's company. I wish we could do this more together. Now, below is a gorgeous, fine canoe, and a fine friend in it. We unloaded the canoes and stowed everything in our trucks. Look at the precarious location Paul left his canoe in while loading his truck. I could imagine that thing sliding down off that bank and into the drink never to be seen again. I don't know if my demeanor would be intense or light. I think I would laugh hard enough to bring tears. The crow is just an added bonus. Well; crows need attention too. Hope you enjoyed this visit to Indian Boundary Lake. Remember; be kind to a dog and show them empathy. See you next time.