Early Autumn Notebook

The last several days have been beautiful. Clear skies, cool nights and comfortable days with very little wind. Certainly something to remember, especially three months from now.

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When the weather is this nice you certainly want to put it to good use. With that in mind we’ve enjoyed paddling with friends on Griggs Reservoir and have also spent some time in Griggs Park as well as Prairie Oaks and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park looking for migrating birds. We haven’t seen as many warblers as we were expecting but other birds and the hint of fall colors have made up for it.

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When you’re paddling the shoreline of a lake or walking in the woods on a trail that for a time may follow a quiet a stream, there’s always the possibility that you’ll see something totally unexpected and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

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A quiet morning, Griggs Reservoir

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A Painted Turtle enjoys the autumn sun, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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A Mallard on Griggs Reservoir

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Autumn colors on Griggs Reservoir

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Reflections, Griggs Reservoir

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Paddling, Griggs Reservoir

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A Blue Bird enjoys the autumn sun, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Just a hint of fall color on the opposite shore, Griggs Reservoir

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Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Griggs Reservoir, looking south.

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Along the park road, Griggs Park

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Mallards, Griggs Reservoir.

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Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Fall colors, Griggs Park

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My favorite stump, Griggs Park

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The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Dryad’s Saddle, Prairie Oaks

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Early autumn sky, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Least Flycatcher, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Mushroom family with moss and leaves 2 092714 Prairie Oaks cp1

Mushroom Family, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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A Great Blue Heron watches during a paddle on Griggs Reservoir

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park

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Eastern Wahoo, Griggs Park

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Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Asters in early morning light, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Furry Stars 1 092614 Griggs cp1

Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Female Magnolia warber, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Park

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park

Toad in Bob's hand 091914 Battelle Darby cp1856

American Toad, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna)

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Walking by a pond, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

The warblers are coming, the warblers are . . .

Earlier this week we did another long paddle on Griggs Reservoir with the hope of seeing a Mink. We were encouraged by the fact that on two previous paddles we had seen them. I even brought my “Bird Camera” with the hopes of getting a decent picture. There is a lot of luck involved in getting a decent picture because unless they’re munching on something like a crayfish or similar delicacy they seldom stop moving.

With a slight wind at our back we had a pleasant paddle north following the shoreline of the long narrow reservoir. We did manage to see a Mink but true to form it left us no time for a picture. A little further north an Osprey was more cooperative.

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Osprey, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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It wasn’t too long before we reached the northernmost point of our paddle, a place we affectionately call the “Wetland Areas” because of their propensity to flood during high water. Their attraction is the fact that they’re usually a great place for viewing birds, insects, and other wildlife, as well as an excellent place to see wildflowers. In a secluded area I was able to get a shot of a group of immature Wood Ducks.

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Immature Wood Ducks, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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We beached the canoe and my wife took off in search for wild flowers while I tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish. While there we had hopped to see a few more birds, perhaps migrating warblers, or maybe even a Mink, but no such luck.

Red Flowering plant 2 Closer 1 091514 Griggs cp1

Red flowering plant, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Monkey Flower best 1 091514 Griggs cp1

Monkey Flower, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Arrowhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir

Wild Mint and rock 3 091514 Griggs cp1

Wild Mint, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The wind was picking up out of the south so we reluctantly decided to start back before things got too “interesting”. We do a fair amount of cycling and often compare it to paddling. One gives you a good upper body workout and the other is great of your legs and lower body. But in the “doing” there is one big difference if you stop pedaling you just stop. If you stop paddling with the wind in your face you start going the wrong way! Hugging the shoreline as much as possible to stay out of the wind we made it back to our launch area without too much trouble.

But wouldn’t you just know it, near the end of our five mile return paddle, tired as we were, hugging the the wooded shore rewarded us with the sighted of an interesting bird! We entered a cove to investigate as a Black Crowned Night Heron watched from a distance. While I controlled the canoe my wife was able to get some serviceable pictures. How exciting, it wasn’t the a Mink but instead our first fall warblers of the year!

Black-throated Blue warbler for Bob to fix (2)

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Yellow Warbler side view 091514 Griggs cp1

Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Yellow Warbler 2 091514 Griggs cp1

Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Fired up by our brief encounter with the warblers we spent the next few days exploring several areas along the Scioto River and were able to get more shots of birds, migrating or otherwise.

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Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Adult Solitary Sandpipers, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Downy Woodpecker, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Solitary Sandpiper, immature, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Wood-Pewee, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Female American Redstart, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Catbird, immature, Griggs Park

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Female and immature male Mallard Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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Coopers Hawk, immature, Griggs Park

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Cape May Warbler, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Gold Finch feeding young, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Goldfinch, study 2, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Feeding time best 2 091714 Griggs cp1

Goldfinch, study 3, (Donna)

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.   .   .   as will as pictures of a few other interesting subjects.

Squirrel head on 091714 Griggs north cp1

Curious Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Water’s edge, Griggs Park

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Milkweed bugs, Griggs Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Buckeye, Griggs Park

Great Spangled Fritillary 091714 Griggs north cp1

Great Spangled Fritillary, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Clouded Sulpher on asters 091714 Griggs N. cp1

Clouded Sulfur, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The sultry days of summer are officially over. The warblers are back!

A Pheasant Day at Griggs Park

We’ve spent a lot of time looking for interesting plants, wildflowers, fungus, and critters in Griggs and Hoover Parks as well as the reservoir itself. Sometimes we get lucky and get a picture of something unique or unusual such as a mink or beaver. Often we just see the critter but fail to get the picture. A recently seen wild turkey as well as a red tailed fox come to mind. It’s fascinating because, as mentioned in previous posts these parks are within the city limits of Columbus.

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Recently while I was on a fishing trip in Michigan my wife saw a rather surprising bird in Griggs Park near the dam. We have no idea of where it came from or how it got there. It allowed her to get fairly close for some great pictures. Was it someone’s pet or did it come from the quarry across the river which includes large areas of fields and brush?

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Pheasant in folage 2 090714 Griggs cp1

Pheasant, (female or immature), Griggs Park

Pheasant emerging 090714 Griggs cp1

Pheasant, (female or immature), study 2, Griggs Park

Pheasant walking 090714 Griggs cp1

Pheasant, (female or immature), study 3, Griggs Park

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Pheasant, (female or immature), study 4, Griggs Park

Pheasant in the leaves 090714 Griggs cp1

Pheasant, (female or immature), study 5, Griggs Park

Sounds of Insects and Summer Passing

We recently walked the trails at Prairie Oaks Metro Park with the intention of getting a few pictures of whatever insects happened by or more importantly landed on a leaf or flower long enough to photograph.

Pausing to listen by a lake, meadow, or woods will quickly bring you to the realization that it’s that insect time of the year. Actual it’s been so for several weeks but now trees have hints of color other than green and when venturing out in the morning one is greeted by cooler temperatures. The sun is lower now as it continues it’s yearly journey south so the light is also different, piercing rather than embracing. At water’s edge dragonflies ceaselessly patrol in the warm late morning sun while Monarch and Viceroy butterflies go about their business in the nearby meadows. Walking through the same meadows in pursuit of a butterfly one is greeting by hundreds of grasshoppers all seeking a different escape route. Further in the woods more woodpeckers and bluejays are heard and one can’t help but notice a branch rebounding as a Fox squirrel moves from tree to tree. It couldn’t be getting ready for winter already could it? In early September, with the absence of any sudden cloudbursts, the rivers in central Ohio are low, exposing previously hidden gravel bars, and are a pleasant shade of green.

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Low water on the Big Darby exposes a gravel bar, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Ruby Meadowhawk, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Fragile Forktail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Grasshopper, one of many seen, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

Duskywing 090814 Prairie Oaks bend lakes cp1

Duskywing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

Common Whitetail best 2 090814 Prairie Oaks bend lakes cp1

Widow Skimmer (M), Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

Black and white wasp 090814 Prairie Oaks bend lakes cp1

Black and White Wasp, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

Yellow flower interior with bee 090814 Prairie Oaks beaver lake cp1

Hover fly (not a bee) on flower, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

Widow Skimmer 090814 Prairie Oaks beaver lake cp1

Widow Skimmer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Painted turtles, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Viceroy, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Bluegill, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Eastern Pondhawk, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Pond, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Flowers at waters edge, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Ebony Jewel wing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Blue-ringed Dancer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Pond, study 2, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Halloween Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Painted Turtles, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Silhouettes, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Eastern Wood Peewee watching dragonflies, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Crooked-stem Asters, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Late Summer Along The Reservoir

Usually we don’t think of August as a great time to look for wildflowers or birds. However, most would concede that it is a good time for damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies. During recent paddles in Griggs Reservoir we’ve seen beaver, mink and deer but none would pose for a decent picture.  Griggs Reservoir and it’s associated parks are premier locations in Columbus to experience nature. For many residents they are a short drive from home. Of course early morning or evening is always best if you’re looking for critters. Equipped with the required curiosity and a pair of binoculars below are images of just some of the things one might see in late August and early September.

 

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Afternoon view of Griggs Reservoir.

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A Red Eared Slider shares it’s space with a Canada Goose

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Surprisingly it does turn out to be a good time of the year for some birds:

 

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A Downy Woodpecker that seems to be sneaking up on something.

 

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Black Crown Night Heron in a cove.

Bird Crow 090414 Griggs cp1

On a recent walk crows were everywhere. (Donna)

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Immature Wood Ducks

Bird Cedar Waxwing left

Donna gets a nice close-up of a Cedar Waxwing

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The Green Herons are relatively common right now.

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Catbird, (Donna)

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Donna stalks a Great Blue Heron

Bird Great Blue Heron 1 profile 090414 Griggs cp1

Heron silhouette, (Donna)

Bird Great Blue Heron 2 090414 Griggs cp1

Great Blue Heron, (Donna)

Bird Great Blue Heron 082214 Griggs north cp1

Great Blue Heron, (Donna)

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Flicker

Bird Eastern Wood-Pewee  082014 Griggs cp1

Eastern Wood Peewee, (Donna)

Bird Ducks all in a row 082614 Griggs paddle cp1

Ducks on a log, (Donna)

and even better for wildflowers:

Flwr Yellow Floral arrangement 082514 Griggs walk north cp1

Sunflowers, (Donna)

Flwr Swamp Rose-Mallow over water 1

Swamp Rose-Mallow, (Donna)

Flwr Spotted Jewelweed 081614 Griggs cp1

Spotted Jewelweed, (Donna)

Flwr Small chickory flowers 081614 griggs cp1

Tall Blue Lettuce, (Donna)

Flwr Forget-me-nots 082614 Griggs cp1

Forget-me-nots, (Donna)

Flwr Chickory with bee 2 081914 Griggs cp1

Chicory, (Donna)

Flwr Blue Asters 082914 Griggs walk cp1

Blue Asters, (Donna)

Flwr Blue aster bouquet 090414 Griggs cp1

Blue Aster Bouquet, (Donna)

Flwr Biennial Gaura 081614 griggs cp1

Biennial Gaura, (Donna)

Flwr Arrowhead 082614 Griggs cp1

Arrowhead, (Donna)

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Of course you would expect butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies:

Moth Tiny yellow 082014 Griggs south cp1

Tiny Yellow Moth (Chickweed Geometer per Sara, one of our readers), (Donna)

Butterfly Peck's Skipper 082014 Griggs south cp1

Peck’s Skipper, (Donna)

Butterfly Pearl Crescent IMG_3770use

Pearl Crescent

Butterfly Monarch 081914 Griggs walk cp1

Monarch, (Donna)

Butterfly Hackberry IMG_3746

Hackberry

Butterfly Eastern Tailed- Blue 090414 Griggs cp1

Eastern Tailed Blue, (Donna)

Butterfly Duskywing 090414 Griggs cp1

Duskywing, (Donna)

Butterfly Clouded Sulfur IMG_3870fix

Clouded Sulfur

Dragonfly Eastern Amberwing 3

Eastern Amberwing, (Donna)

Damselfly Marsh Bluet IMG_3731

Marsh Bluet

Damselfly Blue-fronted Dancer 082014 Griggs south cp1

Blue-fronted Dancers, (Donna)

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Other things also have a unique beauty:

Mushroom Colony 090414 Griggs cp1

Colony of very small mushrooms, (Donna)

Spider Web in sunlight 082914 Griggs walk cp1

Web and sunlight, (Donna)

Lichen Lettuce 3 082514 Griggs walk north cp1

Lichen, (Donna)

Leaf patterns 081914 Griggs walk cp1

Leaf patterns, (Donna)

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My favorite stump

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When not photographing wild flowers, birds, or insects there’s always a little time for catch and release fishing in the reservoir.

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Griggs Reservoir Smallmouth Bass

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No dramatic colors yet but pleasant views just the same:

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Griggs Reservoir

 

August Song On A Northern Lake

e August Song On A Northern Lake

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                         In the early morning mist of a northern lake

                         the August sun has yet to highlight trees that hint of autumn.

                         The canoe moves to the sound of the paddle

                         on the glass smooth quiet,

                         as an eagle speaks from a tree too far away to see

                         and the distant call of a Loon is heard.

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                         The paddle rests,

                         the boat glides on,

                         near trees with their upward reaching shapes of green,

                         accompanied only by faint ripples,

                         suspended over clear darkness.

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                         In the embrace of stillness,

                         slowly from the distant faint shore,

                         the ever changing shape of an approaching cloud appears.

                         Closer,

                         a hushed many winged song is heard

                         as migrating blackbirds head south.

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                         rsp

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