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September 8, 2010


With water levels dropping, I took advantage of a sunny but slightly breezy day to paddle from Gotham to Muscoda late afternoon.  The river remains above normal flow for this time of year but sandbars were beginning to peek through the surface.  I saw many turtles on this trip including some of the largest I’ve seen all year, quietly basking on a log until the interloper in the canoe paddled by forcing them back to the murky depths.  In some cases, there were some interesting belly flops from the high dive.  It is interesting how some turtles climb high up on a snag while others prefer to be close to the water.  I even observed several on a sandbar, all of which scurried back to the water at my approach. 


I also ran into the usual avian suspects:  kingfisher, blue heron, swallow, etc., and heard the distant call of the pileated woodpecker emanate from deep within the bottomland forest.  I also paddled under the watchful gaze of a perched adult bald eagle.  It is always a good day when you see an eagle.  There were three other boats with anglers on the river but no canoes.



Oftentimes, when I’m on the river, my thoughts turn to the timelessness of the water flowing ever downstream and I think about the millennia spanned by the flow of this river toward the ocean.  The same bluffs have maintained their silent vigil for those countless centuries.  The wooded islands retain the same visage presented to Marquette and Joliet in 1673; that being, “vine-clad” and “heavily wooded”, not to mention uninviting and untamed, flourishing with poison ivy, nettles and a thick understory on the edges as the various flora reach skyward clamoring for the warmth and light of the life giving sun.  On the banks of the river, the stately cottonwood stands eight stories tall, leaves fluttering in the breeze, deep channeled gray bark reflecting the sun, clinging to a spot on the river’s edge, biding time until the river claims it as another prize and the terrestrial vertical life ends to begin a horizontal and rather wet journey to an unknown destination…a sand bar, near or distant, a snag pile a short distance downstream, or on to the mighty Mississippi river 50 miles away.  Such as there is a circle of life for fauna, so there is for flora, from the lowly draba to the venerable oak.  Let’s leave it at that for now. 



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Last Modified:  2/15/2011 9:32:14 AM
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