Monday
Sep092013

Morning on the River

Juvenile Bald EagleFall migration is underway. Lots of intriguing birds will pass through—although less brightly colored and less tuneful than in spring. What I hope for here in the Hudson Valley is the chance of seeing shorebirds. A few have been appearing—last weekend Black Bellied Plovers at Greig Farm. So as I headed onto the river this Sunday morning I had high hopes for what might be flying or floating through.

The weather report claimed rain and the sky over the Catskills loomed gray, but electric. I stroked to the Western shore of the river and wove through the water chestnut mat. A Spotted Sandpiper bobbed about and a dozen Great Blue Herons posed in the shallow water.

I pushed south, then back across the river to round the southern end of Cruger Island. There, like a giant loaf of bread, sat an immature Bald Eagle. It watched me as I floated nearer, then it took off to land at the top of a snag. There, it flared its wings, resplendent in the morning sun. In the sandy shallows of South Cruger Island a Lesser Yellowlegs tagged its way along the waterline, ignoring me in my pink boat. It wandered near my bow, then continued on its Yellowlegs way.

Lesser YellowlegsThe South Tivoli Bay is a wide open expanse, now clogged with water chestnut. The tide was heading out, so I pushed against the current to enter the bay. There, a half dozen Wood Ducks squatted on a log, then took off, crying like babies. In the distance I spied a white bird. A few weeks earlier I had found two juvenile Little Blue Herons on the bay. I stroked forward wondering if the birds were still around. One was. It poked about near my boat, caught a fish (lousy picture taken with a point and shoot as my good camera went for a swim). I floated and watched as I had a few weeks before, the bird insouciant. Soon, I turned to leave and to my left, a white bird flew toward me. “That’s a strange looking gull,” I thought. So strange it was another Little Blue. It landed near its pal and the two wandered off into the brown-green spatterdock.

I was feeling pretty cheerful about all of this, and the sun echoed that cheer by parting a few of the clouds in the sky. Things were now heading toward a fully beautiful day. I spied a kayak heading toward me, the paddler awkward in his boat, the paddles rising too high. “Susan?” I heard.

Logan paddling with his bikeIt was Logan, one of my wonderful students, who always has an adventure afoot. His odd stroke was because he had a bike wedged into his kayak. This is a kid who has biked across the country and plans to travel the world to bike, make bikes, fix bikes. He was heading south to pick up a sail boat he intends to live on this year.

“Can we talk about senior project sometime?” he asked.  Senior project is a year-long event for Bard seniors, and it brings out the best and worst in our students.

“Sure,” I said.

“When?” he asked.

“This seems a good time,” I said, and we rafted up. Work follows me onto the river, I thought, but this was certainly the best senior project meeting location I could think of. While Logan told me about his plans to look at homelessness and issues of sustainability in terms of housing I watched a snail work its way over his kayak.

I listened and gave advice as only one can in a kayak and told him to go and start writing. We soon waved goodbye and I took my own advice and headed home to write.

 

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