Twenty-two years ago this past week I was given the most amazing gift and responsibility, a precious baby girl. Exuberant, dramatic, gifted and talented in arts and music and writing, and a sense of humor that her mom seriously lacks, she continues to amaze and impress me.
Her name was one my mom had tossed around when she was having children but didn't use. (Schuyler, from a Grace Livingston Hill novel) When I looked it up 22 years ago, it meant fortress or stronghold. She was a very strong-willed child, fiercely independent. As she raises her own family now and faces a different journey than many young moms, I think her name is more fitting now than ever.
This is the latest I've ever seen baby/juvenile cardinals coming with a parent to be fed. I've been hearing them for a week or two now but it is soooo very hard to capture a picture as the cardinals come to eat at dawn or dusk......terrible lighting. Yesterday, after a dismal day with spotty rain, the sun popped out briefly, just for a moment before setting, allowing me to capture mom and .....I'm not sure. Tonight she was at the feeder with two (which is more normal) but again the lighting was awful and I could not get a good comparison for gender.
Sixth or seventh grade?? This is how I spent most of my time....deeply engrossed in a book. I remember making the macrame belt in Vacation Bible School! The big blue suburban in the background was not ours, but close friends who came to visit....and I was apparently being my typical antisocial self and trying to remain invisible....in a tree that had no leaves. Short sleeves....no leaves.....early spring? No date on the picture to help me out. I loved that book, did not want to stop reading it.
For a while now, it seems every stretch of river paddling we do serves up the same views. Yesterday was just full of surprises. From beginning to end. The launch site was a steep embankment beside this newly rebuilt covered bridge on the Nashua River. Very steep. The water level was a bit low....when we began. This shot was taken on our way back to the launch site, water level was higher, current was stronger, changed up where we took out just a bit, not to mention making for a bit of a work out, paddle-wise!! This site is just below a dam, but we had not found any mention in the guide book on changing water levels. Surprise!
A cormorant sunning on a rock as we began. On our way back we spotted him swimming just ahead of us. Just beyond the cormorant, a Swan swam with the current, keeping ahead of us for quite a while. I missed the video of the day after it "barked" at us twice, it turned around and "ran" back up the river. I just sat in my kayak with my mouth hanging open. I probably had plenty of time to grab the camera and set it to video since it began to run just in front of my husband's boat and then continued on beside me...maybe 6 feet away? Wings and feet and water! Just amazing!!!
We recovered from the swan, came around a bend and there were two osprey calling back and forth. I was able to snap this before the two flew off. Scanning the skies for the osprey, we found sky divers instead!!
We paddled until we were right next to the airfield. Although the current was moving nicely, we were able to just stop in the middle, held in place by a big swatch of vegetation. I think we watched two flights come and go, Each time dropping two groups of divers, directly overhead, 6 or 8 in each group.
It was amazing to hear the sound of the chutes opening!
I didn't even mention all the Cedar Waxwings we saw! At least a flock of two dozen, back and forth across the river catching bugs. They are not nearly as graceful in flight as Swallows and Kingbirds, but they manage! They just made us chuckle, flapping madly. A Kingfisher kept us company for most of the way on our return trip. And no paddle is complete without at least one Great Blue Heron and some ducks. I did get a video of the Heron in flight.....30 seconds of the camera wildly flailing through the trees, maybe two or three frames of actual Heron. I will spare you the video.
We will definitely do this paddle again, but we'll take a second car and find a take-out just beyond the airport. It was a bit unnerving to find the water level had increased about two feet on our way back.
Hughie, Dewey, and Louie kept us entertained for a little stretch of the river. They'd paddle along just ahead of us or beside us, then two would duck and one would fly. . . or all three fly.