Friday, March 11, 2011

My Own Blue Bayou

The inmates didn't do much exciting last weekend, the one swotting for mid-terms and the other compulsively sewing. Since the weather was dull and gray, it was no hardship to be indoors, and now the scholar has good marks and I have the makings of a new quilt for the back of the sofa, to replace the rag that currently lives there! More on all that soon.

 Meantime,Tuesday afternoon fairly sparkled with blue skies and sunshine. The scholar had a break from mid-terms and I was free, so it didn't take long to figure out there was only one sensible thing to do.....Down tools and head for the river!

It was a glorious afternoon and, being the middle of the week, we had the river to ourselves. The scholar loves the tranquility, the wildlife and the workout. As soon as we were in the water, he disappeared off upstream  in a spray of water and a flash of oars, leaving me to doddle along peacefully at a considerably slower pace.

Doddling quietly along should not be confused with "dawdling," which, while it does have the advantage of being a real word, does not adequately describe the art of doddling which is my own patented way of  drifting along, willy-nilly, hardly using the paddles except to fend off attacks by overhanging branches; Gazing dreamily about, on the lookout for birds and flowers and wildlife, and wandering into quiet loops to better examine interesting root formations on the banks, where one could easily imagine colonies of Rattys, Moles and Badgers living out their days!

Without the splash of paddles to break the spell, the peace of the river fills up all the empty, lonely corners of your heart. It is so calm out there. Nothing but clear, blue-green water, birdsong and rushy sounds, inner peace and darting fishes. If there is a place to find the answers to life's perplexing questions [thank you Guy Noir!] or at least to escape from them for a while, this is probably it.

There weren't as many birds as usual, though I did spot a few herons. I saw several large painted turtles feeding on the river bottom, and some fish called, I think, alligator gar, with really long pointy snouts, that I had never seen before. They sped through the water in groups of three or four, in perfect synchronization with one another, as though in a well choreographed, fast-paced dance!

Since we are well into March, I didn't expect to see manatees. I figured they'd be moving back out to the gulf now that the weather is getting warmer, so I was surprized and delighted to come upon a mother and calf, quietly munching away, just beneath my kayak!

 A case could be made for saying that a manatee has a face only a mother could love!

 But they are so huge, and so gentle, that you find yourself falling in love with them anyway..... These two were completely calm and accepting, and happy to share the river with me. I must have stayed in that spot for almost an hour, just hanging out with my new pals! As they munched their way slowly upstream I paddled quietly along beside them.

It almost seemed as though they were being playful.....I'd have the camera poised for a shot and just as I clicked [and had that confounded delay!] they'd veer off under me, so I ended up with some very "arty" shots of shimmering shadows! But they also co-operated enough that I got a few decent shots too. Like this one....

I'm so glad we downed tools and went to the river on Tuesday! Since then it's turned cold again [I'm sitting here shivering], then the tsunami hit Japan, then California Girl called to say they were under a tsunami watch....And Mr. Gadhafi is still in power......Just the world as usual, hurtling along regardless! We can never know what lies in wait 'round the next bend so we might as well seize the day, or the afternoon........preferably out on the river!.