I was excited to dust off my canoe today as the spring weather reminded me that it belongs in the water, not the barn. My trail companion helped me strap it to the truck, pack a meal, and we were off for a day of exploring. What a familiar feeling it is, paddling a canoe. The fresh cold water felt good on my hands as I loosely followed along the shore of a nearby pond. Nature’s own tattletale, the red squirrel, did not like us so close to his tree and he began to jump from branch to branch while screaming at us to move on– a big personality for such a small creature.
We continued along the bank and slowly made our way around the pond up into a marshy inlet. Spooking a group of ducks is not uncommon here, and today was no exception. We watched the pair bust out of the cattails in a hurry, only to land again beyond our current view. Pausing for a moment, we could hear the sounds of a woodpecker. We took a short break from canoeing and pulled up on shore to try to photograph the large bird. Spotting each other at the same time, he flapped his wings and awkwardly flew away through the tangled branches. We got back into the canoe with no pictures, but it had felt good to stretch our legs.
Navigating through the narrow channel in the marsh gave us an opportunity to view some of the less obvious aquatic wildlife– a painted turtle attempted to hide by burying his head into the mud. I would have liked to watch him longer but we needed to gain speed to make it over a small beaver dam built ahead of the lodge. The beaver’s house took up most of the channel, leaving only a small space open for travel. We reached the end of our journey by meeting another wall of mud and sticks that was too big for us to clear without stepping out of the boat.
Hungry and tired, we turned around and began to leave the wetland. Knowing that we would be heading back into the wind, my trail companion set down the camera and picked up a paddle. We made it back in no time with growling stomachs encouraging every stroke. Upon landing the canoe, we both went to work gathering materials and making ready for our shore meal. Hot coffee sweetened with homemade maple syrup was a great dessert to enjoy with the sunset.
Check out the rest of the journey and the shore meal over at Boot and Canoe.
Author: Peter Patenaude grew up plying Maine’s streams for brook trout, hardwoods for partridge and softwood cover for snowshoe hare. He has always had a strong connection to traditional skills and his family’s heritage, which he shares with you in much of his writing. He currently resides in his family’s original farming homestead overlooking the Kennebec River in the same small, French community settled by his ancestors five generations ago. In 2009, he obtained his guide’s license and began Boot & Canoe Wilderness Guides, a service specializing in historical Maine routes taken by past hunters, fishermen, loggers, fur traders and literary figures. Read more from Peter at Boot and Canoe.