Sunday, June 29, 2014

Birds of a Feather

Decided to get decent paddle in this morning.  Just a few hours of constant motion - trying to improve my endurance.

I put in on the Susquehanna and headed upstream.  We had quite a bit of rain earlier in the week, and the average current seemed to have picked up a little.

The river was pretty calm by Hickories.  Soon I was past Hiawatha Island and heading further upstream.

About 4 miles upriver the current was really picking up.  I'd say it was at least 2 mph!  When you look over to the bank it looks like you are crawling along.

I came across three crows walking along a little gravel bar near the shore.  I found there behavior comical (though they probably thought I was also comical paddling against the current).

I continued upstream for another 1 1/2 miles.

After 1 3/4 hours of paddling I decided t0 head back.  At least I would get the benefit of the current.

As I came to the downstream end of Hiawatha Island, I came across an unexpected bird . . .

What was it?  By the coloration and the long neck, it was a Green Heron, of course!

I don't know if I have ever seen one on the Susquehanna River.  I have never seen one around mid day and in the wide open!  They are much less common then their big cousin the  Great Blue Heron . . .

After 65 minutes I was back to my car.  I had a nice workout.

And as an aside . . .

I have to say goodbye to an old friend.  My trusty Panasonic Lumix camera took a bath yesterday when the wife and I were paddling on Cayuga Lake.  I have used this camera all over the world and on most my paddling adventures the last several years.  It has captured some great memories!  We had put in by Fall Creek and then paddled over to the farmers market.  We were then heading up the canal way to see about grabbing some lunch, when I slipped by the shoreline and dunked my camera.  It is drying out now, but the prognosis is not too good.  I decided to get a water resistant camera (a Fuji FinePix XP70) which I used today.  So far, so good.

Safe Journeys!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Big Water

I decided to get in another paddle on Sunday.  It was going to be another beautiful day and I wanted to feel the sun on my face.  I decided to paddle on Cayuga Lake.  Surprisingly, I had never paddled on this lake.  I searched online for an easy launch point, and opted for a stretch of shoreline on Fall Creek.  The creek empties into the southern end of Cayuga.  From there, I would explore.

Fall Creek is rather slow moving as it empties into the lake full of wildlife.

The river was full of mergansers and their ducklings.  This is one of my favorite waterfowl.  I especially like the crests on the females.

I paddled upstream to see what the river would do.  It was quite shallow and slowly picked up speed as I went upstream. Fall Creek flows down from the Cornell University campus in Ithaca.

Finally, a great blue heron.  Another of my favorite birds.

The river got very shallow, and I knew I wouldn't be able to paddle up to the falls.  I turned around and headed to the lake.

The rowers appear to work the lake and rivers early in the morning.  I saw a number of single scullers and a few sweeps out on the water.  One individual started out as I was paddling by.  I guess he did not see me and I had to head to hard to port to avoid him.  I should have called "watch your point" to him.  No harm done.  He quickly passed by me and was out of sight.

I passed by the 147, 148 and 145 lights.  They mark a submerged pilings /  that leads down into the lower canal at the southern end of the lake.

I paddled to the 148 light.

Seagulls and young cormorants were resting on the light.

I guess this gull justed wanted a little solitude!

I then paddled up to the  146 light.

Once I got to it, I decided I needed to pick a direction.  I saw a marina off to the NNW, so I headed out onto the broad lake.

It felt great to just get in a rhythm and move across big water.  Distances are more deceiving.  The marina was a little over 2 nautical miles from the 146 light. The masts of the boats did not seem to get any closer as I paddled on.

I then arrived at the Ithaca Yacht Club.  Where to next?

I turned around and decided to head back to the canal way and see what was there (actually, I know what is there - just never experienced it from the water!).  It would be about 3 miles to the canal way.  What a beautiful day.

There were charming waterfront homes and cottages along the shore.  I would love to have a waterfront home!

By now it was nearing Noon, and the lake was coming to life with boats and other watercraft.

As I headed past the lights into the canal way, I was now close to the shoreline.  Instead of far-off vistas, I was treated to the wildflowers along the shoreline.  These yellow irises were all along the bank.

The canal way lead to the Allan Treman State Marine Park.  Many boats and kayakers were now on the water.  Whew - it was getting crowded.

I had some errands to run, so I decided to head back to my car.  I followed along the old pier to the 147 light.

The gulls kept watch.

There were all sorts of flowers growing on the old pier.  It was interesting looking up to them instead of looking down on them.

I rounded the 147 light and headed up Fall Creek.  The Cornell Campus was up the hill in the distance.

This was a great paddle.  It felt so good to be on big water.  I can't wait for my next paddle on Cayuga.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Resetting the Clock

I've been to five European countries in two months.  It seems jet lag is a constant part of my life lately.  Work, tending the garden and travel.

I got home on Friday, and crashed early.  By 5:30 AM I was awake and looking for things to go.  I cleaned and filled the hummingbird feeder, did some laundry, had 2 cups of espresso, unpacked by suitcase, tilled the gardens, planted some flowers, weeded, trimmed and mowed.  By 2:30 PM I was done with my chores.  By now my body was telling me it was 8:30 PM.  I need to reset my internal clock.

I have done very little paddling lately.  I put my boat on the car and headed to a place on the Susquehanna I like to paddle.

I was now late afternoon and the sun was heading down to the west.  I wouldn't set for nearly 5 hours, but there were shady places along the shoreline.

I came across a mother mallard and a brood of mallard ducklings on the shoreline.  The ducklings scattered into the brush and were lost from sight.  Mother duck flew upstream about 80 feet.  As I was paddling that direction I would get to within 50 feet of her, and she flew upstream again.  She was trying to draw me away from her babies!

This occurred a half a dozen times.  I really wanted her to fly downstream and get back to her children.  I figured I would not play her game anymore and just paused in the river.  After a few minutes she then flew downstream.  What a good mother!

I stayed close to the bank, looking for shade.  I rounded a corner and came across a deer.  I did not seem to mind me too much, and kept foraging. After a few minutes it headed off into the woods.

I was thinking about the river.  In this section the current can be quite strong after a storm (with significant changes in river height), and the shorelines are very muddy.  Not an easy place for plants to grow or people to go ashore.

A saw little bird life.  In te spring there are a lot of ducks, geese, hawks and eagles (beside the redwing blackbirds).  Now, I just saw a few mourning doves getting a drink of water.

 As thee afternoon wore on, the shadows lengthened.  Now paddling downstream it was easier, and I had a slight headwind to cool me off.

I came across another deer (probably the one I saw earlier).  It seemed pretty nonchalant.

My nemesis the Japanese knotweed was quite common and dense) along the shoreline in many places.

I was surprised to see a racoon looking for food along the shoreline.  He saw me but did not appeared to concerned.  I believe that land animals seem to consider quiet, slow moving watercraft as non-threatening.

The water was very calm and mirror like.  It was so relaxing to to stop paddling and soak up the daylight.

I could feel my internal clock resetting.

I really need to paddle more often.  It is good for the soul...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Seeing Things the First Time

We were by the creek the other night, enjoying a fire in the chiminea.  The weather was perfect, the sky a deep blue.  I could hear the buzz of bees.  Where were they?  I looked up and saw them in the black locust trees.  Above us was the most beautiful cluster of blossoms I ever saw on a tree.  The bees were feasting.

I don't ever remember the black locusts so spectacular.  I noticed long ago that they are the last of the deciduous trees to leaf out.  But the flowers - wow!  Were they always like that?  How could I have missed such beauty?

Tonight I walked down to the creek at dusk.  As first, I could smell our late-blooming giant lilac tree (it is enormous).  As I got near the creek, the scent changed.  It was a faint, fruity smell.  I realized it too was the black locust flowers.

All these years I has been blind to the black locust trees.  If it wasn't for the buzz of the bees, I may never had paid attention to the beauty of these trees.

Nature always send out the message- I need to pay more attention to her...

Monday, June 9, 2014


I usually start with a simple set of tasks in mind - trim some weeds, mow the grass, sit back and enjoy the early summer.  Something then stirs in me and I just can't stop working in the yard.  Is it a need to shape the world around me?  The desire to control the plants, finds a way to stop the insects from spreading?  Is it about a search for perfection, applying some rules about what looks right?

I don't know.  Maybe I just enjoy being busy.  Maybe it is a sense of accomplishment.

I decided to work on the knotweed.  It wasn't in the plan, but the nice weather had me looking for a reason to be outside.

I got out my trusty scythe and machete.

I use the scythe  to cut back the knotweed by the creek.  As the water is quite low now, I can walk along the creek bed and hack away at the knotweed down near the creek bed with the machete.  It can be very dense in there.

 Someone asked why I don't use a string trimmer.  First, the scythe is pretty fast.  I can cut about 200 feet of creek front in 20 minutes.  The exercise is good, and I don't need to gas the trimmer or change the string.  However, the most important reason is revealed by the knotweed.

Like bamboo, the plant is full of nodes with inter-node structures (a fancy way to say it has hollow portions).  As knotweed likes to have 'wet feet', these inter-node areas fill up with water.  You find out pretty quickly that a string trimmer does a real good job splattering water all over you.  I'll keep using my scythe, thank you!

I then had to work in the garden.  I pulled a wheel barrow full of weeds from the beds and around the raised beds.  I till the beds (it really helps to keep the weeds down and allows the beds to absorb water more quickly).

At some point, the need to stand back and see what I accomplished kicks in.  The garden looks good, and the wife and I can sit by the creek and enjoy the water.

Control?  I don't know. A quest for order?  Maybe - but I know Nature will take a new tack and move a new way.  It is just the dance we go through.  Life....

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Start of Summer

It is June 1st, and Summer is truly here.  I have been mowing the grass every week for a month now.  I have even had to knock back the knotweed.  But Spring was slow to come, and it felt like Summer would never get here.

The plants know summer is here - and they have sprung to life.  The Bleeding Hearts are doing great (even after the awful cold we had this winter)!

Early Summer is when I see mostly  purple and lilac flowers.  The rhododendrons are starting to flower . . .

. . . as are the wild violets.

My small Columbines made it through the winter.

Of course the Dame's Rockets are blooming everywhere.  The wild flowers are aggressive and will take over every square inch of field, but they can be pulled easily and are knocked back with a simple cutting.  Still, they look great in big groups.  I keep a patch going back by the creek.

We had a few casualties from the winter.  Our Holly bushes were very frost damaged.  I am not sure if I want to do a heavy pruning, or just replace them.

Our Thyme and Sage did not survive.  These are easily replaced.

We had started the garden weeks ago.  At first we sowed the cold-tolerant seeds, and even took the chance with getting some of the warm weather plants (Basil, Peppers, Tomatoes) in the ground.  Of course we had a slight frost, and lost the Basil and half the Peppers, but the Tomatoes did well.

The Garlic is doing great . . .

. . . as are the zucchini.

I started to thin the Carrots and Swiss Chard.

The perennial herbs are doing great.  The Chives are fantastic, the Oregano is lush, and the Tarragon is going crazy (note to self - Tarragon is very, very aggressive).  I might replant it!

We have the rest of the Peppers, new Basil plants, Green Beans, Green Onions and Spinach in the ground.  We should be harvesting our first spinach in a week (yum)!

We also put some new Thyme and Sage in.  Now, it is up to Nature (with some help from us) to let the garden grow.