Since we were kayaking to celebrate a wedding anniversary, we figured we could withstand a couple of hours sharing a piece of plastic.
We were at the north end of Tilghman Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and renting a sit-on-top kayak from this place. There’s a 2-hour water trail up Back Creek along a bird sanctuary.
We paddled across a channel and were immediately surrounded by swallows. I felt like I was in a Disney movie and the birds would lift my cap from my head and festoon me with marsh grass.
Safely on a channel marker, a mama osprey presided over her nest. The young osprey were visible, and all of them were chirping.?(I took the above picture of an osprey nest in Dogwood Harbor a few hours later. We didn’t bring our cameras on the kayak.)
We spotted a bald eagle parked high in a dead tree. Sure enough, it flew across the river a few times, so we could examine its belly and exclaim over what we were seeing.
A great blue heron flew by, its enormous wings flapping. Then another. Maybe it was the overcast quality of the light, but the herons looked particularly blue. Doug commented on how prehistoric the herons looked in flight, so bony and yet so flappy. Graceful and awkward in the same moment. It’s easy to remember that birds are dinosaurs when you watch a heron lift from the water.
We followed the pair of herons up Back Creek, and I could see what good fishing they enjoyed, since the water was teeming with minnows.
I noticed the head of a turtle peeking up, so we paddled closer. It was a large water snake. In a kayak you’re almost nose to nose with the water, so I jumped, and so did the snake, before it glided away.
We saw a muskrat scurry down a channel too narrow for us to follow, though we tried.
As we went further upstream the creek got narrower, so that our paddles brushed marsh grass on either bank. I saw an enormous spider web stretched between the grasses on opposite banks and yelled for Doug to stop paddling. A black and yellow spider scurried across the web and anchored itself on one end. It was the size of a coaster and didn’t look like any spider I’d ever seen before, with its exotic markings. We backed up carefully and turned the kayak around.
“The rest is all yours,” I told the spider.
Someone had a dock that jutted out into a bit of open water, and we watched three young boys run out excitedly. They were checking their crab traps. I told myself this wasn’t a Stephen King movie and they’d be fine.
The traps were empty, and we paddled on by.
We returned along the bay side of Tar Island. The water had gotten choppy. It began to pour. We were completely drenched when we returned our rented kayak.
Still sharing a double. 29 years.