Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend Birthday Paddle!

All things (particularly cancer and coronavirus, fie on both of them!) considered, I've really had a wonderful Memorial Day + Birthday Weekend. There was enough good food that I may do another post about that, but the best part of the weekend was that by pure coincidence, the Sebago Canoe Club reopened after 62 days (not that I was counting or anything ;-D ) closed while the city and state dealt with the initial onslaught of COVID-19. Marinas were among the facilities closed by order of Governor Cuomo, and although I don't think of our club as a marina, that's the category under which we fall. The club closed on March 22nd, as I vividly recall because a friend and I happened to sneak out for that one last paddle that day and only found out about the ruling when we came back to find the gate sealed with a lot of packing tape wrapped around a sign that said "CLUB CLOSED". Oops.

Anyways, things are gradually opening up again here in NYC - "returning to normal" would be a stretch, but as we've gotten past the awfulness of the first wave of the virus, people are now carefully figuring out how at least some commerce and recreation can resume. As NY State allowed marinas to reopen, NYC parks followed with particular guidelines for city marinas; unfortunately those were aimed at more traditional bigger-boat marinas, so Sebago at first wasn't able to, but our board went to them and talked to them the difficulties things like only single boats being allowed to go out posed for a paddling club.

We've been a tenant of the parks department for a very long time, and Parks listened to the board and asked the board to come back with a management plan addressing various concerns. The board worked with them, and although the final results unfortunately mean only those of us with our own boats get to paddle or sail until further notice - at least we have that, and I'm grateful to the board and the parks department for working that out.

Official reopening was actually the 23rd, but it poured all day that day so TQ and I stayed home and read and messed around on our computers all day - quite relaxing. If anyone paddled in the rain, more power to them!

The 24th was my birthday and TQ took the day off to take me paddling!

It wasn't the most beautiful day ever, a little gray and overcast, but oh, was it beautiful. The water's still pretty cool - TQ and I both got a little warm and ducked our heads using each other's bows for support and had ZERO desire to roll after that, partial dunks were plenty. I was delighting in NOT being in a drysuit since the water's up around 60 now and a wetsuit is sufficient - but I didn't quite want to get that all the way wet. I'll let the water warm up a bit more!

My last paddle, some of the summer denizens were just back, now the bay is thoroughly into the Spring swing. Laughing gulls laughing, brants still here but discussing their flight plans for their travels to their northern nesting grounds (hrrnk hrrnk hrrnk!), sandpipers and swalllows flitting by, ospreys tending their little ones (we could see little heads popping up in the nest at Canarsie Pol while one of the parent perched nearby).

And of course oystercatchers - one of my favorite moments of the paddle was when a pair of oystercatchers took off from Canarsie Pol as TQ and I were paddling parallel to the Pol's north shore, maybe 30 yards out. The pair flew a big circle around us, wheet-wheet-wheeting all the way so easy to follow - first crossing behind us, then flying past us well off on the Brooklyn side, and then coming back in towards the Pol and then, wheet-wheet-wheet, right past my bow! Felt like the perfect welcome back to the bay. Also possible we were being cursed out but hey, it's my projection and I'll make it chipper if I want to. Yougottaproblemwiddat? 

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We kept it on the short side, around Canarsie Pol, over to the Duck Point Marshes, and then home again. I'd thought of going through the marshes to see what was stirring there but as we approached the break between the marshes, we could see that there was a huge flonk of brant relaxing in there. Hrrnk hrrnk hrrnk. Jamaica Bay's bird life is so rich that it's really hard to paddle without putting up some birds, but I didn't want to wilfully disturb a flock that big, and there was no way to go through without spooking the entire gang, so we scratched that leg. Ended up doing about 6 and a quarter miles and that was good; we were both feeling OK in our boats despite the long break, but there's this "Sunscreen" thing we'd both forgotten, and although it wasn't bright and sunny, it was that thin cloud cover that lets the UV rays right through. So we're both feeling slightly overexposed today.

And we got back in time to say hello to the larger Usual Suspects gang who'd gone out earlier - I'd bailed from that paddle when TQ told me he was taking the day off because we're not fast starters, and although the group start time was hardly crack o' dawn, we were still going to have to hustle ourselves a bit. It was really nice to just go when we were ready to go, but it was also SO nice to actually see folks and get some in-person birthday greetings, even with face masks and social distancing. Really couldn't have asked for a nicer day under the circumstances!

And today I did an exploratory bike ride to the club; I can get there in half an hour without even pushing too hard, so that'll work great! I didn't get going early enough to actually paddle (partly to stay out of the sun), but it was a nice ride, I went on over to Canarsie Park after the club, they've got nice bike trails there that link to the Brooklyn Greenway bike trail, so I got in a nice leg along Jamaica Bay. Looking forward to some biking/kayaking crosstraining - that's actually great for fitness!

Just photos now - click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

More from Mother's Day Weekend in Prospect Park

Oof, I had a very busy work week! Surprise, surprise, working from home hasn't made any difference in the usual timing of times when I have too much to do. Got a couple more forecasts this week then hopefully will quiet down. Anyways, had more pictures from my Prospect Park walk on the 9th - I'm just going to share those today. Pretty day, I decided to walk instead of bike because it was really breezy and I still don't trust myself on a bike that much.

I wish I'd taken my Lumix with the zoom lens because it turned out to be a good bird day - in addition to the robin I shared on Mother's Day (ok, truth is I don't know whether that was Mom Robin or Pop Robin, but I loved sharing that), I also saw a Hairy Woodpecker, a Black and White Warbler (first time I ever saw one of those, neat looking bird, looks like a high-fashion sparrow!) and 2 ospreys fishing the lake. The ospreys were a surprise - I expect them around salt water but I don't think I've ever seen them in Prospect Park - heard their call though & saw them a minute later. I guess freshwater fish are just as good as salt. And there was an unusual boat getting ready to go in the lake - the Floating Goat! So there, phew, I can keep calling this a boat blog, even though I haven't been on the water in weeks now.

SOON though! Can't wait!

All pictures after this - click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day!

I stayed up until midnight so that I could post this to wish all you moms (and any other caretakers who are filling that role for someone) a Very Happy Mother's Day! I was so lucky to get to see this robin caring for the babies yesterday in Prospect Park, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to share.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Fire in Midwood

An unfortunately exciting afternoon in the neighborhood. I was working away on my month-end close reports when it started to sound like every emergency vehicle from a 3-mile radius was pulling up and stopping right nearby. I decided to take a break and go out and see what was going on.

One of the lovely old homes on East 18th was on fire. I think I heard one of the firemen say that no one was inside - don't know if they meant they got everyone out or if no one was home, but glad to hear no one was hurt. The firefighters got things under control fairly quickly, but what a rotten thing for someone to have to deal with on top of everything else. :(

The exterior of the house looked to be intact except for where the firefighters had broken in, but there was definitely damage.

There were 9 big trucks and about the same number of smaller vehicles - it was so sad that they had to be here but I still found it fascinating looking at all the various units that had come out and seeing their pride through all the various emblems and memorials on their trucks. 

Hooray for NY's Bravest. 

Monday, May 04, 2020

Florida Day 5 - Manatees and an otter!

Nothing very inspiring going on for me here in Brooklyn. It's been rainy, I've been social distancing and working from home, I have a few more flowers I haven't shared yet, I probably will but rather than change the name of my blog to Flowerma, tonight I decided to dip back into my Florida pictures.

We'd had a couple of near misses with manatees in the preceding days. My friends in Anna Maria Island had taken us to a place where some manatees had been earlier in the week, but they'd moseyed on. The Mote Marine Lab has a pair of manatees, Hugh and Buffett, but their habitat had just closed temporarily for renovations the week we visited. These near misses made me even more interested in seeing manatees. A little online research turned up Manatee Park in Ft. Myers. It was a 45 minute drive, but when I called the park & asked if we would see manatees if we came, the very sweet woman who answered the phone positively guaranteed it. So the next morning my sister and TQ and I all jumped in the car and set off to see the manat

Manatees, as we learned from one of the volunteers there, have no blubber. I would never have guessed that, they are so roly-poly looking, but they don't, and that's the reason that when the waters of the Gulf get too cold for them (below 68 fahrenheit) they make their way up into the warmer inland waters. They particularly like the warm outflow from power plants, and Manatee Park is built around one such outflow that runs into the Orange River. We didn't end up paddling with the manatees here - there is a kayak and canoe rental there but as usual, we hadn't gotten the quickest start so didn't have hours and hours and hours to play with, and we found that the manatee viewing from the shore of the outflow canal
 was fantastic. There were mamas and babies, and the volunteers told us some really interesting stuff (including stories about how wildlife rehabilitators go about releasing manatees - this is a frequent release spot and the newly freed animals are tracked carefully to make sure they're doing ok, all really interesting) so we decided to stick with that, plus a little time exploring the grounds.

That was a good call because they had this lovely short nature walk on a boardwalk through the mangroves where the outflow met the river, and while we were exploring that, we found a wild river otter! We'd enjoyed seeing the ones they had at the Mote Marine Lab the day before, and getting to watch this one going about his wild otter daily routine was just fantastic.

And we got to see a herd of manatees getting spooked by something - that was pretty impressive, they had been floating so peacefully but my goodness, when these big creatures all went diving away simultaneously, they left the water roiling!

Another beautiful day in Florida! All photos after this, click for a slideshow view.