Late Season Kayaking

It was late October when I launched my kayak from Jackson Landing into the Patuxent River. I wondered what I would find during the lull between migrations. The osprey had already settled into their South American winter quarters, the ducks and swans were still on their way from northern shores. September’s abundance of wildflowers had faded; only remnants of purple asters remained, the rest gone crunchy and brown. A light breeze whisked the wild rice, but the water was mirror flat, doubling every image: the fish crows dotting the top branches of a dead tree, the cormorant sneezing on a partially submerged log, the great blue heron rising from the wilted spatterdock, headed to another lunch counter.
    I paddled into Mattaponi Creek and paused to listen. The screech of a red-tailed hawk split the air. I found him perched in a sycamore, his white chest a beacon in the swath of muted reds and golds. I heard the muscle creak of crows’ wings as they flapped overhead, the light gurgle of tide beneath my hull, the buzz of a single passing fly. Out in the river, cormorants ran across the water to take off, their feet splashing like children at play. On a nearby overhang, a kingfisher stood silent watch, majestic in blue.
    I found exactly what I wanted. The perfect place to simply be. The perfect place to write.