Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Mixed feelings on the river

Our quest to find some interesting paddling close to my sister-in-law in NH is a success. The Connecticut River may hold some sort of prize for the most impounded river in the East, so one's happy waters come at an ecological price. Granted, Bellows Falls have been there for several millennia, probably since the ice sheet left. However, the falls have been improved in the interests of humanity, most recently hydroelectric interests. The result of the improvement is a sheet of fairly placid water that extends to the Wilder Dam, just north of Hanover, NH.

That would be an appealing bit of kayaking if one did not have to share the river with a good many power boats. Armed with local knowledge, they had laid claim to the best landing spots on the river, and amused themselves by flying upriver and down ad infinitum, towing their offspring on inflatables at high speed.

Never mind, our chief interest was Gollum-like poking and prodding into the wetlands on either side. In the longest of these, we found ourselves accompanied by relays from a colony of kingfishers. My wife had never seen--or observed--kingfishers before, so it was a new experience for her. There were swallows in plenty, but also a small hawk. It was either a pigeon hawk or Cooper's hawk: at any rate, a hawk that makes its living off small birds. Kayakers coming downstream had alerted us to a bald eagle, but we didn't see it until we too had turned around.

The main event in this marsh was eliciting a tail slap from an angry beaver. I'd heard about this defensive measure since I was a kid, but had never heard it. Yes, it's loud: I was engrossed in the kingfishers and apparently invaded this beaver's personal space. The next moment came the "thwap!" I thought at first that some local kids had managed to find their way into the marsh and were amusing themselves throwing rocks at the tourists, but my wife and her sister, behind, saw it all unfold.

Beavers and powerboats notwithstanding, I'd like to try this bit of river again. Reason says that some at least of these dams have to go some time in the future. Being very much a flat water kayaker, I hope to get the most of the present situation while it lasts, without standing in the way of giving the river back to its inhabitants.

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