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Serenity: it is more than a state of mind… it is a state of being, a state of Nature also. It is restful, it is calm and peaceful; it is a state of being one with the world you then are in: Nature and the people and creatures you are sharing it with.

In early June Kristi and I with our Westie, Nory, kayaked into the Saginaw Bay from Hampton Township’s Finn Rd. boat launch. We went after work and floated until sunset and became a part of the marsh life east of the park for a few hours. On calm waters we moved in and out of the channels and open pockets in the reeds. We were explorers.

We discovered the diversity of bird life in the marsh… Visually and through the constant days-end chatter as the population seemingly talked about their day’s activities.

Yes, at first we did disturb the serenity. We flushed many ducks (mostly mallard males with bright green heads), a few egrets and herons. The Great Blue Herons never seemed to go far… they would wing around behind us and light from where we had come from. Mallard Hens would simply cautiously retreat into the reeds with their chicks. Songbirds of many kinds announced our arrival and progress. Gulls and terns continued to fish.

Then after making our turn to head back, we came to a cove of open water in the marsh and pulled up to watch the sun drop through a few layers of clouds toward the horizon… bringing color to the sky. We stopped exploring and simply watched and listened… for a while.

What we had done was to reverse the flow, now in our state of rest and calmness. Nature came to us. And we became a part of it. As we sat, a muskrat approached through the calm open water leaving a “V” shaped wake behind. He (or she) passed within ten feet of our boats before Nory moved and he went under the surface.

Not long after, a larger bird came out of the reeds onto a raft of floating driftwood and dead reeds that the Bay’s wave action had pushed into the inner edge of this cove. I told Kristi it was a “water chicken”… part duck and part chicken. He used his red beak to pick and peck bugs from the raft as his big yellow feet and yellow legs slowly carried him back and forth along the floating “shore.” All of this activity occurred within 20 feet of our boats which we had stilled next to a mostly submerged tree stump. This was a Moorhen, a member of the coot family.

As the sun continued to drop, more and more color came into the sky. The air was also filled with a heightened level of bird chatter. It was as if every bird was now bidding his friends goodnight and letting them know he was safe in his roost.

There we floated, between the windmills to the east, the power plant to the west, completely a part of the serenity of the evening marshland. It was a blessing to be an accepted part of it.

Rick Learman

Float Paddle Center

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