June 9, 2010



My new neighbor Kathy, who turned out to be an avid kayaker, joined me for an outing on Tuesday down the Estero River.

We put in at the Estero River Outfitter's launch, where a friendly and knowledgeable salt pointed us in the right direction.

map courtesy The Great Calusa Blueway

It was a sweltering day. Minutes into the paddle we were enclosed in an exotic setting for all the world like a scene from Apocalypse Now. "Are we in Florida or Cambodia?" I wondered. We half expected a detachment of chalk-dusted natives, bristling with spears, to be lurking around the bend.

Dragonflies abounded... and bounded, difficult to capture from the boat. We spotted a half-dozen species, from garnet red to bottle blue. This one had a touch of bronze on the sunlight side.

How long before these rivers and trails, their ecologies eons in the making, run desolate with oil and blood and death? I'm taking in as much as I can, while we can.

Wildlife on the kayak trail seems remarkably tolerant of water-borne visitors, and lets me drift close. I have never seen this kind of bird before.

Another bird, a song bird, unseen, serenaded our passing by...

The somewhat miasmic Estero, dense with the cycle of life and decay, is sporadically perfumed by crinum americanum, a flower which shares much, in form and fragrance, with jasmine.

It was so quiet on the river that we could hear the bamboo bend and groan and tick in the breeze.

Kathy is an adventurous sort, dauntless and great company. Before moving to Florida, she spent two years in Kenya, with a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation out of Duke to enhance the African Studies collection at the University of Nairobi library. She's also dealt poker games in Las Vegas. 

Two and a half hours in, the midday heat was upon us, "burning like a man," and we turned back, deferring the bay for another trek. Sodden and seared, we grabbed iced tea at the shack, and piled into the truck for the trip back to the Cape.