Yesterday was peak-July, which is peak-Summer, which is peak-Ohio, which is peak-God in terms of natural beauty. So I took the day off work, loaded up the trunk and moved to Beverly...er, traveled to a local metro park and set up camp.
Looking at the other side of the bank always reminds me of Walden, immortalized on this ancient of days Bantam cover:
Headed out on the water via kayak. Spent about three hours weightless on it, the sky azure and the shade relieving. Songs unbidden came like the theme from the Waltons and the oh-so-appropriate “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, released when I was 11 years old:
Well, I built me a raft and she's ready for floatin'I went farther than I’d ever been on the Darby before, which is not to say very far. Conquered at least three sets of rapids. The trip back involved twice having to portage around a rapid. Would probably better to do the hard part upstream first and then have an easy return trip (I.e got north first). Still, much more satisfying than just tooling around a local pond/lake.
Ol' Mississippi, she's callin' my name
Catfish are jumpin', that paddle wheel thumpin'
Black water keeps rollin' on past just the same...
Old black water, keep on rollin'
Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shinin' on me...
Wild country and gratifyingly quiet for the most part... a deer and two fawns stepped gingerly in mid-creek as I float towards them. Eventually one of the young ones retraced back to the woods, then the other fawn, followed by the momma. Proud to have avoided wasting time fishing out my camera.
Saw shells the size of my palm, one intact clam-like. It was a mussel, a “freshwater bivalve....The Big Darby Creek watershed has recorded an exceptional list of 44 mussel species, among the best in the Midwest for a watershed of its size.”
Saw a snake coiled in tree stump on the shoreline. Post-trip google searching reveals it to be a Queen snake:
“Queensnake dwells along shallow waterways....The decidedly aquatic queensnake prefers slow moving or shallow rocky creeks and rivers where it feeds primarily upon soft-shelled crayfish. These snakes are frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along streams. When first captured, some attempt to bite. However, their teeth are so small they can barely pierce the skin. Others make no attempt to bite. All use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. For this reason, they do not make hardy captives.”Heard the deep bass croak of frogs, the occasional airborne fish.
Started at confluence of Big Darby and Little Darby and headed south, downstream. Taken far enough it would take me past Grove City and Orient to meet up with the Scioto River just outside Circleville (31 miles by car). The Scioto then meets the great Ohio at Portsmouth scores of mile south, then the Ohio meets...
One can dream.