Saturday, November 9, 2013


The leaves are off the trees now and the writings on the sky.  Winter is at hand.
It breaks my heart to see shade climbing over rocks and mud on those baron shorelines of Cherokee where there isn't any greenery for her to explore or run in.  I've only been able to stop at islands due to the private property issues on the mainland and they are nothing but rocks, boulders and mud.  Recently I've obtained permission to walk on a farmer's property up at the river and that opened up an opportunity for Shade to enjoy the trees and grass and in short, be a woodland dog once again.  Today was her first day on the river and I could tell by her eyes that she was excited with the new digs.
She looked so different on the bow of the boat, surrounded by the pristine, gorgeous countryside on either side of the river.  This is the environment that a noble Labrador Retriever should be in - not a boulder strewn deserted island.
She wouldn't leave the bow of the boat.  When on Cherokee, she would come back to where I sit and lay down at my feet until I would idle the boat.  On this river she seemed to be investigating everything with eyes and nose.  I'm glad I brought her along today.
Coots are not a glamorous water bird but none the less, they are part of the scheme of things.  The amazing thing is they weren't here all Summer and they appeared by the thousands overnight.  Large individual "herds" of them are situated all over the lake.

We ran onto the above flock almost immediately after striking the river from Beech Creek.  Only a short way down the river, we found more.

There were thousands on the river.

 They took off in a rush creating a dazzling display.

We pulled into the shore for a break and to let Shade stretch her legs.  I caught a glimpse of a little gray squirrel streaking up a tree.
Two great egrets launched quickly as we approached the embankment.

Shade hopped off the boat and immediately put that nose of hers to work in the brush.  I could tell she was in heaven here.

She even carries herself differently here in the woods where things are as they should be.  Her head was always high and her muzzle pointed up.
 No - Shade, don't lay --- down.  Oh well, what the heck?  What's a little mud?

The really nice thing about Shade is that I don't have to worry about losing her as she stays right with me.  Even when she goes off to explore, she stays within sight of me.  She even stops dead, at times, and turns to look at me to see where I am.  What a great pal!  Couldn't do better.
Wow - the sun is going down already.  There's one last place I need to run on and that is Big Creek.  Aside from the necessary reason to float it, I wanted to see if the beavers were working in the area, and are they ever working!
Just look at this felled tree.  Two days ago there wasn't a mark on it.  There has to be three different beavers working on this in order to chew out that much wood in two nights.  That's unbelievable! 
The tree below was chewed down a week ago.  Notice how the bark is being eaten off the tree from the bottom, initial cut, of the tree moving toward the top.  This is beaver city back here and the local farmer seems to be tolerant of them.  By the way - this is the property I have permission to be on.  
 If you look closely you can see the teeth marks on the bare wood.  Amazing teeth!
I'm terrible at identifying trees but, this looks like an oak from here according to the bark pattern.  I didn't know beavers liked oak.  Seems it would be a very hard tree for them to gnaw through.
The day was almost over and we started back toward the little parking lot..  I felt good about being with Shade today.  What a great friend and companion!  I'll definitely be bringing her back here more often now.  The sky is turning a slate gray and the wind is picking up making me feel chilled.  I'm not looking forward to the cold of Winter at all.
The eagle is on his favorite perch high up on the mountain side an is back lighted by the slate colored late afternoon sky, as usual.  Will I never be able to get a decent picture of this eagle?

The temperature is dropping as I felt a chill run down my neck.  I didn't put a lot of clothing on for this afternoon run on the river.  I've got to watch that.  Can't afford to get a cold or worse - the flu.
We'll be back at the boat ramp in a few minutes - then a loud, thunderous shot rang out an it was very close.  I could see no one.  It sure got Shade's attention.  She snapped her head around to the left and looked behind her.  "It's alright girl - dads here for ya."
So, another day has ended.  I'm starving and it's an hour and a half back to home.  Oh well, I'll live I think.   It's been a nice day and I have shed a lot of edginess out here today.  Things have been bothering me lately - mostly about political stuff - stuff that a lot of  guys gave their lives for is being ignored today,  thereby making their sacrifices negligible, or at least minimized.  OK - I won't get into that.  Tomorrow will find us, or at least me, back in the rock hole.  See you then.