A swirling swarm of swallows overhead already starting their day, our first aviary sightings of our three-hour canoe tour of a beautiful and relatively isolated stretch of Catherine Creek.
Along for the ride was local bird expert Trent Bray, a local non-bird expert (that would be me) and our guide, local farmer Phil Hassinger, who works some of the land we’d be floating through.
Before we’d even floated a few feet and before any birds could even be seen, Trent was effortlessly throwing out the names of birds as their hoots, whistles and songs filled the still, early morning air.
Like the time he rounded a corner and came upon a calving elk with a nearby bull in the middle of the stream dead ahead.
It was a game of chicken he was pretty sure he was going to lose but fortunately his faithful dog on board caused enough barking ruckus to annoy the elk away.
“Great Horned Owl!’’
Standing on the bridge was one of Phil’s farming neighbors.
As we worked the canoe around the bridge he told us how there used to be two of these towering old trees right here but one was cut down when the road was straightened.
"They were getting ready to cut this one here too when my dad arrived and informed them that this was his property and told ‘em to stop cutting," said Phil’s neighbor.
A towering symbol of the fact that once in a while you actually can fight city hall — and win.
A couple of golden eagles appreciate that.
The creek’s dark, smooth surface is suddenly alive with tiny silver rings as droplets bounce in their centers.