We’ve missed our canoe since we downsized and sold almost everything we owned to move across country in 2014. But now that we’re in NC with lots of calm lakes and rivers nearby, it seemed like a good time to get back on the water. So with a newly acquired 42 year-old Mad River boat, we took advantage of the calm before the storm today to paddle a finger of Jordan Lake up toward Bush Creek.
We launched early in the day and were the only people at the canoe ramp. After a few minutes pushing against the wind and bouncing on waves, we headed into calmer waters toward Bush Creek. An immature eagle honored us with a flyover, along with several noisy osprey. Buttonbush blooms dotted the water’s edge along with graceful, flowing willows and blocky sweet gums.
We found the mouth of Bush Creek but the thick willows, downed trees, and shallow water hindered much progress upstream. Turning around, the view of the lake and blue skies framed by the willows gave us reason to smile. We paddled into a little grove of willows, noting dragonflies darting about and listening to birds call around us.
Hugging the shore on the return trip, we almost bypassed this culvert, but the view at the other end summoned us. We glided slowly into the darkness of the tunnel, unsure what we’d encounter inside or at the other end. About halfway through, something bumped the boat, and we realized there were fish under us, banging on all sides of our canoe trying to get out of our way in the shallow water of the culvert. (Had we still been in Florida, where alligators would likely be hiding out in a culvert like this, we might have made a different choice!)
Exiting the culvert, we entered a quiet, shallow bay that connects to another tiny feeder tributary, Overcup Creek. We were thrilled to find three great blue herons, a half dozen beautiful dwarf cypress trees, and a great egret in flight. What a sweet surprise – this hidden space on the other side of the tunnel! We sat in the shade near the shore for a while, drawing, writing, observing. Then, we noticed a water trail leading up the creek and paddled as far as we could until we bottomed out.
The Northern cricket frogs let us know they were among the grasses in the shallows with a raucous chorus of their own. Listen to them in the video below:
On our return through the culvert tunnel, I shot this video. If you listen, you can hear the fish splashing and bumping up against the canoe. Poor, frightened things…
During a quick snack stop in a quiet cove we listened to a yellow-billed cuckoo’s strange laugh-like call as tiny fish swam around the canoe. Our paddle back to the boat ramp was calmer than earlier this morning and the sun was shining through a bright blue sky.
It was another fine commune with nature – a nurturing respite from the world of coulds and shoulds. A time to just be, to connect to natural cycles and rhythms, to sit in the present moment and be grateful.
Have you paddled anywhere lately? What’s your favorite paddling place?