looking out over the tip of a kayak on Lake Superior

Lake Superior over the tip of my kayak.

As Laura recently pointed out, things have been busy around here. Not just at Mudminnow but with everything else the three of us do. Hence, the unintended hiatus of Musings from the Minnow.  But, work or not, I’ve had a new kayak sitting in my garage for the last three weeks and because the weather finally cooperated I took it out this past week – several times. I suppose I could have taken it out earlier but it would have involved hauling it over snow and then paddling through icebergs. And honestly? My love of kayaking does have its limits. I’d rather work than haul a kayak through snow.

But the first place I headed was a couple miles down the beach to check out the bald eagle nest. The nest is still there, but there were no signs or sounds of eaglets in there. On one visit there was an adult hopping around on the rocks nearby, and on another visit there was one soaring overhead. But neither was exhibiting territorial or protective behavior. And on the last visit, no adults were visible.

And that’s kind of the tell tale sign – the lack of adult eagles around the nest. If there are eggs or eaglets in a nest there’s usually at least one adult eagle very nearby. But this year the nest is just part of the northwoods scenery.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. In the years I’ve been watching that nest, there have always been eagles there. I didn’t think I did, but obviously I took it for granted that I would always paddle down there and see eagles tending their nest and young. And there are plenty of eagles around here – the other morning I stepped out on the beach and there were 6 soaring overhead. There was one sitting on the rocks this morning. There just aren’t eagles on “my” nest.

It’s easy to forget that it’s a rough world out there for so many of our fellow creatures. When a spring snowstorm dumps on us, we mutter “Damn! I have to plow the driveway again? Aren’t we done with winter?” But for nesting and migrating birds it’s not an inconvenience … it’s deadly.

I’m hoping I’m wrong, that the next time I paddle down there I’ll hear squawking and see adults around. But sad as that, apparently, empty nest is, it’s also good to be reminded: Things change, treasure your present moments.  

                                                                                               — Lesley

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kayak approaching the wooded shore of lake superior

Kayaking to the eagles nest.

It’s been a water week, involving boats. And some trauma.

For starters, I paddled my kayak down the shoreline to check out the eagles’ nest. It was a chamber of commerce day – brilliant sunshine, a bluebird sky, and calm water (something to consider when kayaking; huge waves are not your friend).

The nest was still there (no winter storms knocked it down) and while I couldn’t see any action in the nest itself, there was an adult eagle sitting in the snag next to the nest. I’ve no idea if there are eaglets in the nest, but I’ll keep checking back. If the nest has babies, eventually they’ll show themselves.

Eagle's nest on the left and adult eagle perched on the right.

Eagle’s nest on the left and adult eagle perched on the right.

And the first Keweenaw Bay Sailboat Race of the season took place this past week. Don’t be misled by the photos – looks like an idyllic day, doesn’t it? Out on the big water, lots of sunshine, sails full. What a lovely time to be had by all.

Hah.

sail boats on Lake Superior

Full sails on Lake Superior.

Within thirty minutes of these photos everything went south. The promised 10-15 mph winds and 3 ft. waves never materialized. Instead, the wind totally died – totally died – and all the boats were left sitting in the water.

Five hours later we’ve managed to crawl eight miles to Traverse Island but still aren’t around it, and several boats have dropped out and are motoring back to the start line.

And not solely because there’s no wind. Before the wind died, it was a south wind, one that sweeps across land before blowing over the lake. And a south wind brings higher temperatures and lots of bugs – biting flies, to be specific. You would have thought that being 2-3 miles offshore would have saved us, but nope. We’ve got hundreds of flies all over the boat. Biting flies.

Almost seven hours after the race start we give up and turn the motor on – the last sailboat in the race to do so. We really have no choice – thanks to hanging sails and hundreds of biting flies the sanity of the entire crew has become a real issue.

Within twenty minutes of heading back (under motor) the wind comes up. But it’s too late. Every boat has scratched and no one has the heart to even put their sails up again. Everybody just wants out.

And now everyone’s seriously suffering from P.T.F.S. – Post Traumatic Fly Syndrome. When we arrive back at the long starting dock (the last boat to come in) there’s a decent breeze ruffling the water and not a fly in sight. But every boater is standing around twitching and slapping themselves.

I may live and work in paradise … but even paradise has its underbelly.

–Lesley

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