By John Little, Missisquoi River Basin Association
It has been too long since I sat my butt in a canoe seat, and finally all the various facets of my life aligned with the weather, and the end of the marking period! Sunday, in 60 degree weather, I convinced my wife and daughter to join me for a trip on the Missisquoi. The day could not have been more enjoyable, unless it had been several days long. The leaves were off the trees a couple weeks ago, and we’d already had snow on the ground in the higher elevations.
What a contrast! With the canoe and an ancient kayak, we headed down stream from Richford. The wild life was still present, and in amazing abundance. More interestingly, you could follow it more easily as the leaves were not there to impede the viewing. Before we got to East Berkshire, we had the following list to enthrall us in our late fall trip: a couple dozen Mergansers, four Red Tailed Hawks (one was screeching to beat the band for some unseen reason), Chickadees and Juncos in the underbrush, several Great Blues, a Muskrat (very shy), and the ever present Blue Jays. The wild life highlight of the trip however was a local who is rarely ever seen. There was a Wood Turtle sitting quietly on the shore above water line, sunning. He/She was absorbing as much sun as possible, and had somehow figured out that the world outside where ever it was hiding was warm. It’s markings were so covered with silt, that I couldn’t tell what kind it was till we got within a dozen feet. Normally they are very shy, and it as only this single chance to ramp up its metabolism one last time to clean its blood before the big hibernation, that made it willing to allow us so close. Very nice! I believe that I’ve heard that these turtles can live to 30 years or so, and this makes a nice statement to the effect that the Missisquoi is still a fairly healthy river in spite of its challenges. The couple books I have here state that they do not reach sexual maturity till 10 – 11 years of age.
Our weather has been typical up here for this time of year, a little sleet, snow, sun, cloud, lots of wind. You know, typical New England stuff. But it has been relatively dry and we haven’t had some of those soaking rains we normally see. As a consequence, the water in the river was nice and clear. It wasn’t clouded with silt of any kind, and while floating along, you could see to the bottom everywhere except for the deepest holes. I hope you all got out on Sunday for some kind of floating activity, or anything at all. It won’t be long for the waters to start freezing, and for me to switch over to skiing activities. Happy dreams of paddling! John