Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Canoe trip

What: I had to drop some paper work off at All Souls Interfaith Gathering so Jon Dowds and I decided to canoe there from Rock Point in Burlington (maybe about 11 or 12 miles). Everything wound up working out perfectly, with the weather probably the nicest it could possibly be - no wind at all, mid-60s, and sunny - plus it was a week day so we mostly had the lake to ourselves. I strapped my camera to the canoe and set it to take a photo every 3 minutes. Unfortunately the camera slipped down right after I set it then slipped further down even later, so the result of the time lapse was somewhat disappointing.

Ecological notes: Lots of lady bugs on the surface of the water. Notable birds included a few loons down by Shelburne Farms, swallows (tree and barn) out at Juniper Island, a greater black-backed gull by All Souls, and then chipping sparrows, white-throated sparrows galore at All Souls.

Where: Lake Champlain

Other notes: I was struck while canoeing at how the quality of the water's surface changed. At one point it looked like the gridded light and dark greens of a well-manicured soccer field, other times it had a lazy metallic roll to it. Zac Ispa-Landa was telling me about Wade Davis's book Wayfinders. Davis (who has the wonderfully rad title of National Geographic Explorer in Residence) details a Polynesian culture that frequently canoes open water beyond sight of land. The navigators are so in tune with water they can read the slightest variation in the vibrations of water against the bottom of a canoe. They can successfully navigate to small islands thousands of miles from their origin, islands, they didn't know existed by reading the way water ripples over the surface. I could tell when we went over the turbulent ripples from a passing boat or see the wide v-shape being cut behind a goose angry at our presence, but only the most obvious stuck out. What, I wonder, was the full range of music skipping over the surface of the lake that I wasn't hearing.

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