Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday,May 9

Friday was an excellent day for paddling! I hadn't been out on the water for three weeks, and missed it. The Eliza was gliding smoothly when I launched at Cadboro Bay. I've paddled here so many times in the last few years, and this time was much like the others. Bright overcast, not too cloudy. Low tide, coming in over familiar rocks. But sometimes something special happens in the middle of all the ordinary places and weather.
I didn't try to set any speed records, just drifted along looking at rocks covered with seaweed and various things, mostly squishy. Found a plotch of sea pork, which is a bit like a sea sponge but the colour of pink meat and clings to rocks. Saw a crab different from any I'd seen before, bluish, with long thin legs but not a spider crab. And a metre away from it was another, a little smaller. Go crabs go! There's a boat comes through the bay almost every week setting out crab traps. The crabs need every chance they can get. And I saw a little sea star, the sunstar kind with over a dozen arms, that was only the size of my hand. The tube-feet reached out as it wriggled a couple tentacle arms slowly, perhaps looking for water.
I drifted from Flower Island to the rocks near it that we call "Whale Rock" because at high tide it looks like a whale under your boat. Then I saw a familiar motion, as a family of otters came climbing down from the brush on Flower Island.
There were at least eight of them, maybe nine, all sleek and plump and limber. And for sure, river otters are colour-blind, because I sat there in my bright pink kayak, wearing an orange PFD and a red-and-black hat, holding a paddle with yellow blades. They swam close to where I was drifting, and began ducking down into the shallows. Every few moments one or another would surface with something in its paws or jaws, and chew away. They looked busy and happy.
Eventually one poked up its head and took a good, long look in my direction. I'm guessing that pattern recognition finally told them that I was there.
They squeaked, ducked, and swam a few yards farther away, no more. Even so, I took this as my cue to leave. No point putting pressure on them and making them feel crowded. I headed back toward the beach at Gyro Park.
And on the way, there was another pair of otters at the little rock garden, fishing there with a heron nearby. There's wonderful things everywhere in spring!

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