canoe magic

Today was a good day. Balance was restored to my world. Canoe magic is back in my life.

It’s a bit of a long story, but the short of it is that the last time I was out in a canoe was a brief trip or two in 2004. So, it was great to go down to Mill Pond Conservation Area to paddle around for a couple of hours. Everything went well. The canoe was as wonderful as I remembered it to be.

Canoes and I have a bit of history. I’ve always spent a lot of time around water — swimming, rowing, and paddling around in canoes. When things aren’t going well for one reason or another, a couple of hours out in the canoe, and I’m restored. I’ve always thought of it as a form of therapy. Canoe magic.

This canoe is a bit special. I bought it in summer 1998, with part of the payment for a writing contract. When I took delivery, little did I know how important this canoe would be to me in the coming months. My Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer in late August and had surgery in September. Between trips to the hospital, I spent a few hours a week exploring rivers and lakes almost until the first snows came. Following my Dad’s death in March ’99, I spent many days off with the canoe and my old collie, Maggie (now deceased), paddling solo on any navigable creek I could find. Somehow, a few hours in the canoe helped to make sense of things.

So, it was great to be back on the water today. If it’s nice, we’ll be off in the canoe again tomorrow. Today’s trip was wonderful. We had the whole horseshoe-shaped lake to ourselves. At the sheltered end, we met a family of Loons — 2 adults and 3 young. I know this photo isn’t at all good — it was shot with my smaller camera (I don’t like to take the good camera out on the water). However, I’m posting the photo anyhow as it gives some sense of the scene — a family outing — everyone having fun. At times, the whole family would be submerged, but with one adult always remaining above water, but “peering” beneath. I wonder what it saw? Its mate and three young Loons chasing fish? At other times, everyone would be swimming in circles, with adults warbling their Loon calls so that they echoed across the lake.

We paddled up by the island where one can find an Osprey nest on a towering snag. The parents were fishing over the lake as we paddled along the perimeter. What a sight when one comes rocketing out of the sky to hit the water… whap!… before banking and ascending back to the nest with a fish for its keening young.

We saw several species of dragonflies hovering and dashing over the water. Slaty Skimmers, Common Whitetails, Blue Dashers, Green Pondhawks, and even a few Hallowe’en Pennants in a sheltered cove. This Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea) damselfly perched on the cherrywood gunwales of the canoe and worried the deerflies that tried to bite my bare feet.

The coves of the lake were filled with waterlilies that would give Monet’s water garden a run for its money. We saw many Monarch Butterflies cavorting across the water, seemingly playing tag with one another.

All in all, it was a good day to be back on the water.

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5 Responses to “canoe magic”

  1. Laura Says:

    So many nice things in your day to comment on!

    I tried kayaking last year for the first time – really prefer it to paddling in a tippy canoe.

    That purple damselfly is really gorgeous and the loons! Only ever get distant looks at them in the winter on the ocean. Nice to see a *natural* osprey nest; here they nest on man-made platforms, cell towers, channel markers, in chimneys out at Sandy Hook, etc. Always a treat to see their dive into the water for fish – amazes me that they can pull themselves out and fly away with their prize.

    Glad your canoe and the quiet places you visit bring solace.

  2. Burning Silo » Blog Archive » my cousin has great changes coming Says:

    […] a place where nature, photography and writing meet « canoe magic […]

  3. Cindy Says:

    wow, that violet dancer is just gorgeous!! glad you got a taste of that good ol ‘canoe magic’.. enjoyed your post and photos as always :)

  4. burning silo Says:

    Laura – I’ve yet to try kayaking, although it looks like fun. I guess I’ve stuck to canoes because it’s what I’m used to, and I can either paddle solo, take my dog along, or go out with Don (and the dog) and our gear. After years of paddling, I’m still amazed at how something as simple as a canoe can carry so much stuff, and then be propelled miles along a river by people using only their arms. Yesterday, we were out for another canoe trip — this one much longer. On our way back to the put-in, I said to Don that I sure wouldn’t have wanted to walk as far as we paddled! Anyhow, it’s just so nice to be able to get back out in the canoe — it really is my favourite place to find peace.

    Cindy – Isn’t the Violet Dancer a neat damsel? It was so nice of that one to sit in such a convenient place while I shot a few photos. And yup! Sure is nice to get that ‘canoe magic’ back into my life. Thanks!

  5. Burning Silo » Blog Archive » along the lime kiln trail at mill pond conservation area Says:

    […] Yesterday, I said I’d put up something nice for those who didn’t appreciate the post about spiders, so consider this to be it. About a week ago, we spent a couple of hours hiking the Lime Kiln Trail at Mill Pond Conservation Area which lies a few miles south of Smiths Falls. I shot quite a few photos that day – perhaps the most I’ve taken in one day in awhile. The circumstances were unusual for mid-January. No snow on the ground and just the slightest film of ice forming on most of the larger ponds and in the roughly horseshoe-shaped shallow lake that loops around much of the conservation lands. The above photo is a view of one section of the lake. In summer, we occasionally paddle our canoe around the shoreline of the lake and into a couple of very shallow bays populated by the bleached stumps of long submerged trees. We can easily spend 2 or 3 hours paddling and then drifting here and there while I photograph dragonflies, waterlilies and other interesting things. Actually, I just checked and see that I wrote about paddling there on July 30th, 2006. […]