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Barbara Spring

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Kayaking Mats Mats Bay
By Barbara Spring
Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Eagles and seals up close and personal

I stand on a high cliff overlooking the sea scanning the

water for a spouting whale or seals or otters. Really, all I

see are some diving ducks that disappear underwater and then

pop up again in their cork like way near the kelp beds.

I would like to see a seal.

With this in mind, I talk a friend into a kayak trip.

"But I've never kayaked before," she says.

"Neither have I," I said, "but I've seen the kayaks out

in the water and they look sturdy enough."

After a few minutes, "O.K., I'll go."

"Great!" I say.

Our half day trip looks iffy. Black clouds boil

overhead as we drive to Mats Mats Bay to rendezvous with our

kayak guide. Then the sun peeks out. Clouds. Sun. Clouds.

Sun. Won't the weather stay nice just for a little while?

Our kayak guide Lonnie shows us how to paddle with a

figure eight motion, then adjusts the foot pedals for me that

control the rudder. In a two person kayak the person in

front, my friend Jan, sets the pace. I imitate her paddling

motion while trying to get the hang of steering with the foot

pedals. The sun pops out and a young eagle stoops to gather

up a fish in its talons quite near our kayak.

"It's a young one," says Lonnie. "Its feathers haven't

turned white yet on its head and tail." We watch the

adolescent eagle as it sits on the top of a tall pine. There

are great blue herons sitting on the tops of other tall

pines as still as lawn ornaments. We head out the channel

into the big water, past ancient rocks. Paddling along the

shore we see the young eagle's parents sitting in a tree

overlooking the water. These eagles have the white heads and

white tail feathers, and they cock their heads as I whistle

to them. They don't seem to mind our presence at all and I'm

thrilled with theirs.

We paddle the smooth waters hoping to get a glimpse of

seals. Lonnie points out a rock where the seals usually sun

themselves, but he cautions us that we must not approach too

closely since the seals are having their pups now in July and

we don't want to harrass them.

"Seals are wary of kayaks, and avoid them," he tells


I think of their long association with Inuit kayaks

and this does not surprise me.

Just then I see a round head in the water not far from

us. It disappears as mysteriously as it appeared. But now we

must head back for the afternoon light won't last too much


My friend Jan is enthusiastic about kayaking. "I'll

have to get my husband and our friends to do this," she says.

Although Jan lives in nearby Seattle, she had never tried

kayaking before.

We didn't notice it at first, but then we see a young

seal following our kayaks up the channel and into Mats Mats

Bay. It first goes to a little boy and his mother in one of

the kayaks. Then it comes over to Jan and me, looking

curiously at us, rolling, showing off its flippers as it lies

on its back, diving, reappearing. We can see its markings:

like a dapple gray horse. Our seal pops up near Lonnie who

is just as enchanted by its visit as we are.

"This has never happened before," Lonnie says. "I think

it's about a year old."

Jan and I are again visited by the seal, as frolicksome

as a wide eyed puppy. The roar of a motorboat frightens it

away finally, and we head for shore. I wished to see a seal.

Sometimes wishes come true .



       Web Site: The Dynamic Great Lakes

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Books by
Barbara Spring

Between Sweetwater and Sand

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Sophia's Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below

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Hapless Harry The Minnesota Muscovy Duck Documentary by Lisa Loucks Christenson

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