Thursday, September 15, 2011


Yesterday was cloudy with a thick overcast and I wake today to more of the same.  The clouds are just mixing with the ridge top on the far side of the valley.  It might rain.  It might not.

After breakfast, I finish up on my box building - the first seven specimens collected in my wanderings.  I don't have the sheet copper that I need to finish them, but they are sealed.  It begins to drizzle while I work, the tiny droplets striking the metal roof and making noise that is far out of proportion to the amount of wetness.  I will probably not map today as the paper on the plain table will suffer during the work.  But, more to the point, there is the nagging superstition that if I begin mapping, it will rain for real.  I explore instead.

I find deer tracks and a set of fisherman tracks at the river.  It is the flat bottomed wading shoe prints that give the fisherman away.  Two killdeer complain at me and I flush a sandpiper that I really should have noticed earlier.  I feel clumsy.  Fish are rising at the eddy on the far side of the river.  I have yet to come down here and not see fish rise in that spot.  I head up river and after just a few steps I shake a bald eagle from its perch.  It too heads upriver.  I begin to find beaver sign - pealed cottonwood limbs.  With each few steps, the number of limbs increases until I reach the end of the cobble beach where limbs are strewn all over.  This is a feeding spot.

There is a well used beaver drag leading up the bank.  A drag actually looks like someone swept a dirt path with a push broom, the only difference being that whoever made the path did not show much concern for headroom.  The beaver that come here live somewhere else on the river swimming in and head inland to get food.  The branches are dragged back to the rivers edge where the bark can be pealed and eaten in relative safety.  I follow the drag until about 150 feet from the river, I find a minor clearing in the cottonwoods.  The beaver have taken down at least six trees and hauled away almost every bit.  Other stumps show that they were here last year as well.

It begins to rain in earnest.

I walk down to the quarry and follow a road up the hill through the forest until it comes to a gate and someones house.  I quietly turn around and return to the river.  It has stopped raining.

Then, I head upriver again to wander the north meadow and the old homestead site.  There is an old feeling about it today.  I don't know what that means.  I collect a few things as specimens plus a mangled sheet of metal that might be more suitable on the boxes than the copper that I envision.

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