Thursday, July 1, 2010

No Alewives But Carp

Things worked out that when it was time to go kayaking yesterday I was near the Mystic Lakes. The last time I checked it out they were still hard at work reconstructing (or whatever) the dam between the Upper and Lower Lakes, but they've now finished and, though the parking lot could still use some work and some grass seed might or might not make it, the place looks in good shape and the day was beautiful.

I put in on the Lower Lake side and quickly paddled South with the wind towards the entrance to the River. I planned to head downriver for an hour or so and then back, but I was distracted by the maw of Alewife Brook and carefully headed up that way. It was an adventure.

There was some wildlife on the brook: a gray heron who didn't think I saw him even though I was only 15' away, a muskrat, families of ducks, and lots of birds. There were also some giant fish in the water, even when it shoaled to 4" or so. A fisherman later told me they must have been carp.

I made it a long way up the brook, even though a couple of trees were trying their best to block it. I went behind Dilboy field, where they were having a football practice, caught a glimpse of the projects off to my left, went under Broadway past the Johnny's Foodmaster (where I used to shop when I lived in my second-ever apartment), past St. Paul's Cemetery and the small bridge there, way up under Mass Ave where I could see the traffic jams all around me, and almost made it to the route 2 circle before I was stopped by another fallen tree that I couldn't get around without getting out of the boat and dragging it. A paddle stuck into the squishy, dirty mud at the bottom of what by that point might have been called a concrete-lined drainage ditch convinced me that I didn't want to get out of the boat.

I saw several homeless people nests hidden in the trees by the brook, passed a pedestrian with long shorts who shouted out, "Wow, that's cool!" when he saw me go by, waved to a couple of people on the 77 bus who apparently considered me a hallucination, and shocked a man who was drawing the drapes in his condo ... he didn't realize he was living on river-front property. There were several things in the water that I couldn't recognize at all, and as I told people later, I didn't think I should try too hard to figure out what they were. In a couple of spots coolers obviously had been dumped: the cans floating downstream with the current and the wind, and the bottles bobbing like so many lobster pots, caught in the river weeds.

Finally got back to the Mystic itself with its vast rafts of lily pads and headed back up-river past trash that didn't seem as poetic. However, it was a noteworthy phenomenon that the Duncan Donuts plastic cups blowing across the surface of the river acted as wind vanes, the mouth always pointing upwind and the bottom forging its way through the water.

Got back onto the Lower Lake and crossed to the West side, then worked my way around past houses that probably cost many times what some of the places I had seen recently cost.

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