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Leaving my shore, I stroked out into the river to see which way the prevailing conditions would carry me. The idea is to strike out in the opposite direction, so as to make the return trip easiest. Since the wind wanted to push me upriver, I headed downstream at full speed, unused winter muscles protesting mightily. When I reached the bridge spanning the river near the downtown core, I realized just how strong the combination of tide and spring current was. I got squirted under the bridge before I realized what was happening. Turning quickly, I dropped my heavy cruising paddle and grabbed my short broad whitewater blade and started flailing. I was in no danger, just a little chagrined at being caught napping. As I struggled under the superstructure, a huge organ-pipe array of icicles slipped off the ironwork and crashed into the water fifteen feet off my bow. I wasn't long in scanning the bridge for more!
Back upriver, I found that elusive spot where wind, current and tide are stymied. I lay down in the canoe and soaked up the sun while the elements duked it out, pushing me in lazy circles. A movement onshore caught my eye. An otter! Stark against the shoreline snow, he loped along the waters' edge, seemingly more annoyed than alarmed at my presence. I paced along beside him for a while, paddling with long strokes to keep up. Occasionally, the little guy would stop and look over his shoulder at me, as if to say "hurry up!".
We traveled together that way for a few minutes, then he scrambled up the steep bank and popped into a burrow. I was amazed that he let me see it. Oh well, he looked pretty young; he'll learn not to do that I guess. Sorry to leave, I headed home, marveling at the prolifery of wildlife taking advantage of this beautiful spring day. There were ducks everywhere of all types, smirking seagulls riding Buick sized ice floes, and ungainly cormorants beating along just inches off the waters' surface. Looking down into the spring-clear water, I was glad to see thousands of oyster shells littering the bottom. I hear that's a sign of a healthy estuary, and I hope it's true.
What a treasure this river is, and how lucky this town is to have it.
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