Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The last time the weather was as beautiful as it was today, Sarah and I borrowed a friend's canoe and rowed up the Willamette past the Sellwood Bridge and back. I spent much of the afternoon pondering the fact that I'd lived here so many years and never once been on the river. How strange. I found a piece of petrified wood on Ross Island that had been rounded smooth over the years by the water. We saw a deer on the riverbank. Cruised by South Waterfront, which appeared somewhat phastasmic, fixed in its own unreality. The Sellwood bridge, rated a 2 out of 100 on the bridge safety scale, and sure to drop in the next moderate earthquake if it doesn't get replaced first, looks even more narrow from below than it feels to be on it.

Finally, mentioning the deer reminded me of another wildlife experience I had recently after dark. I was down on the dock just south of the Hawthorne taking pictures of the city when I heard some rustling behind me. I assumed someone was walking down onto the dock and didn't think much of it, but when I turned around there were three small animals wrestling with each other, like cats, about 20 feet away. My first (very anthropocentric) thought was that someone was walking their puppies. A bit more examination and I realized, of course, that I was observing three baby wild things, unaware of my presence, in the act of playing. Unfortunately, I couldn't see very well in the dark, and when I clumsily tried to snap a picture of them using my flash they all jumped into the water and disappeared. For a few hours later that evening debate raged among my friends about whether I had seen baby beavers, baby river otters, or baby raccoons adept --hopefully-- at swimming.


Blogger zilfondel said...

would actually bet on 3 baby nutrias... not exactly the prettiest of aquatic animals. Probably a good thing you didn't get a better look!

Its sorta like a beaver crossed with a rat. I lived right next to a canal in Eugene that had a few of 'em in it... they get pretty big, too.

1:48 AM  
Blogger drew said...

Hmmm, someone did mention nutrias. But would they play with each other like that?

I saw a huge nutria late at night once in Olympia before I knew that they existed and I couldn't believe my eyes. Genetic experiment? LSD flashback?

The creatures I saw on the dock didn't have the shape of a giant rat, but my eyes were pretty thoroughly blinded by the city lights so who knows.

3:08 AM  

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