Water Closet for July 28, 2017
[pullquote]”The paddle back from the Atlantic to Pope’s landing in the increasing dark, the full moon behind us, was on shimmering, mirror calm water from the new Beverly-Salem Bridge.”[/pullquote] In kayaks without noise, exhaust fumes, or wakes, Elaine Gauthier and her guests ride lightly on our waters. At night she dons a tiny headlamp to become a fire fly above her vessel unseen in the dark below.
In mid-July, Elaine of Middleton, invited other Stream Teamers to join her for a sunset-moonrise paddle on the Danvers River. In late afternoon she had three of us leisurely paddling down the river from Pope’s Landing, Danversport. For four miles we rode the low tide ebb to the sea. The wide for its length river had us winding down through home territory, so familiar from a car that we thought we knew it well but didn’t. To the old Closeteer who has lived in nearby Middleton for over half a century, Danvers behind, Beverly to the north, and Salem south were strange from the river. He’d had a similar experience of disorientation when walking a rail trail in Danvers for the first time near familiar asphalt streets; however, from the railroad bed he saw things as train passengers had long ago. For kayaker Elaine our topography, trees and buildings along the Danvers River are familiar viewed both from roads and water.

Elaine Gauthier on the edge of the Atlantic looks eastward to Bakers Island off Salem shining in the setting Sun. – Donna Bambury photo

As a crackerjack photographer, who likes to share, she on our paddles happily enthuses about views and light. We catch the mood and try to see the shifting colors as she and fellow camera bugs do. The mood of course is largely evoked by the changing scenes due to moving sun, moon and clouds. Artist are people trying to catch them for the joy and so they may share and perhaps revisit. Now that expensive film and developing costs have passed, all have a shot.
Now and then Elaine and others come up with photos that evoke wows and delight. She has done so a couple dozen times in the past few years. This June two of her photos were sold at a show put on by her and photography course classmates* at a gallery in Ipswich. When light, time and mood are upon her she’ll rush out alone with light catcher to bag a scene. The winter before last just after a wet snow storm she went out at sunset and recorded frosted trees glowing a spectacular pink. You’ve seen some of her photos over the last few years here in the Water Closet.

The most democratic of vessels on Salem Willows Park beach. For a day’s pay one can become skipper-owner and travel lightly on the world’s calm waters. – Donna Bambury photo

On arrival on the Atlantic Ocean off Salem, Baker’s Island shining to the east, we left our vessels on a tiny beach at Salem Willows Park. After leisurely eating Low’s famous “chop suey sandwiches” on a park bench under a magnificent sycamore, among families out for a Sunday evening, we got underway again. The Sun would soon be setting, we wanted to watch it from the water. We paddled and drifted westerly on a sinuous course around moored sail boats in the river’s salty mouth while waiting for sunset and for full moonrise to follow. The tide had turned. The surface flow had moored boats still pointing up river. The lighter brackish water on the surface was flowing out. The denser saltier water coming in below had the whole moving up and in. Our tiny fleet was on the rising edge of a twice daily tidal wave whose crest moving our way was six thousand miles to the east.
The following were attempts to describe the ever changing water between Pope’s Landing, Danversport, and the ocean and back on a perfect evening in early July.   Elaine said she and her camera loved being at goose eye level on the water looking out and up, a swimmers view. We started in bright, late afternoon light in a gentle breeze from the south. The air was dry and pleasantly warm. There were no clouds in the sky. The tide while near slack was still falling and taking us on brackish water to the sea. A power boat would occasionally pass slowly as per harbor rules thus providing us with a gentle wake. All seemed quiet as the drone of traffic was tuned out. Three paddlers in three kayaks frequently stopped paddling, the photographers to aim and the unarmed old Closeteer to take in the scene. He enjoyed listening to the ladies softly oohing and aahing at the changing light. Elaine now and then punctuated silent periods by pointing out land marks and navigation hazards. Gulls, cormorants, geese and ducks passed us by. In the shallows the gulls seemed to walk on the water warning us to stand clear. Unless rough this is no problem in a tough, light kayaks that can be simply backed off on grounding.
The Closeteer finally gave up trying to describe the water in words. Some of Donna’s and Elaine’s photos caught fleeting moments. The paddle back from the Atlantic to Pope’s landing in the increasing dark, the full moon behind us, was on shimmering, mirror calm water from the new Beverly-Salem Bridge. The Sun long below the horizon was bouncing brightly off the Moon. The beautifully silhouetted trees of the Salem Golf Course reminded us of those on African savannah in moonlight. The power boats gone, the magical scene now with us alone rendered us less talkative. In the moonlight as our host had advertised, we, though somewhat tired, almost reluctantly landed and returned our vessels to her truck. While we were paddling the landlubbers had gone to bed, no one was around. There as little on the ride home, a pleasant tiredness and memories had taken over.
Elaine is now planning a paddle on the tides in mid-August out to impressive Choate Island rising above the Essex-Ipswich salt marsh.
* Another Middleton photographer displaying her best at the show was Judy Schneider, prize winner and almost weekly Water Closet contributor.
_______________________________________________________________________________WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION

Precipitation Data* for Month of: April May June July
30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches 4.53 4.06 3.95 3.89
   2017 Central Watershed Actual 6.53 4.87 6.08 2.0 as of July 18

Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For July 20, 2017  Normal . . . 8.2 CFS     Current Rate . . . 33.4 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru June.
** Middleton Stream Team is the source of actual precipitation data for July.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or         <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584