Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Dark Places

The Ardea cinerea, or Gray Heron in a tangle of branches high on a treetop. There are tons of these prehistoric-like creatures wherever I go kayaking, but I've never quite captured one so close before.

Random pollution makes an interesting photo

The Dark Places
Tonight, the water itself is alive: as the hull of the kayak glides silently through the dark water at dusk, big fish whip their tails in swirls of fury underneath the surface to get away from me. When I look closely, the dark shadow of a bass hovers beneath the surface, still, its tiny fins swishing back and forth in a slow inertia. A dark figure and ripples catch my attention: a beaver crosses the water in a slow paddle, making her way back to her den (click the video above to see her.) The shutter of my camera frightens her and she, too, whips her tail in a splash and submerges herself back to the safety of the deep dark places.

I like the dark places. I stay out well past sunset. It is new moon, and spirals of stars soon appear across the enormous black sky. Tiny beacons of green and red blink across that dark canvas; there must be seven of them crossing at once, full of passengers eager for their landing. Every hue is taken from this same gray palette: the water a smoky ripple; the black silhouette of trees a stoic black city against the lighter shade of sky; and to the west, one final point of ruddy haze lingers where the water meets the sky, out where the sun has disappeared. The water is like smooth and dark, like glass, except it ripples as I paddle my way back. The paddle makes an “x,” crossing against a backdrop of swirling Milky Way. I focus intently on that big black island, and the North star. I paddle again until I have blisters in the webs of my thumbs.

It is then I see the point of light – a star – fizzle and fall, streaking across the night sky. I say a silent wish and head into shore.


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