Saturday, November 13, 2010
One More Perfect Paddle
I knew we'd have one more perfect paddling day! And today was it: sun-warmed and calm, with a cobalt sky adorned with just a few wisps of white cloud to prove how blue, blue, blue that sky really was.
So off to the river I went with my boat, slipping into the water behind Beaver Island, where the quiet water reflected the rocks and trees and hills and sky. My dear familiar Hudson, whose every season brings its own beauty! I was thrilled to be granted one more chance to enjoy the charms of "my" river in late autumn.
As this photo from last Monday shows, it wasn't a given that I'd paddle again this fall. In fact, if the knots that tied my boat to the car hadn't frozen, I would have already stored the canoe in the cellar. So, happily, my boat was still ready to go when this perfect day dawned.
I headed first toward Juniper Point, the last promontory before the Sherman Island Dam. This particular stretch of the Hudson is remarkable for its series of bays and promontories that offer a paddler hours of moseying pleasures.
I follow the shoreline closely, enjoying the fragrance that spills from the forest, and when I pass under these sunlit rocks I can sense their warmth even while sitting on the water.
Heading back upriver past monochrome hills, I am struck by the brilliant yellow of this tree across the river.
Rounding Rippled Rocks Point, I move into Arrowhead Bay past Three-pine Island. After paddling this stretch for more than a dozen years, I devised these names for the features I've grown familiar with here. But I haven't come up with names for each of the mountains that rise across the river. I wonder if anyone has?
Behind Three-pine Island I move into a marsh, where Buttonbush and Highbush Blueberry and Winterberry thrive. With most of the foliage colors so muted now, the brilliant red of these Winterberries certainly stands out.
Most of the blueberry shrubs have lost their red leaves by now, but their twigs and buds will keep their ruddy color all winter.
Heading back toward where I put in, I am struck by how the lowering sun has picked out the pines on the promontory I call Bear's Bathtub.
A pale quarter moon floats in the sky above. I first noticed it by its reflection in the water.
On the promontory I call Picnic Point, one solitary blueberry bush still holds its red leaves. But wait a minute! Why is that tree trunk protruding out from the rocks? I've never seen that there before.
Now, where the heck did this fallen tree come from? There's no sign of it having toppled near this site. From the weathered wood, with the bark long gone, it looks like it's been underwater for some years. So how did it wash up here, on these rocks? Will it be dislodged by the winter's ice and next spring's floods?