It seemed
strange… these odd creatures floating down the river. The old
vulture cocked her head to one side to get a better look. They
appeared too large to be gliding on TOP of the water, yet they were.
The three invaders peered into the trees as if looking for
something… perhaps a nest or a cave… all the while maintaining a
deliberate pace. Only seconds before, brothers and sisters in lower
branches had flown, startled by the silent intruders.

Where
had they come from? Where were they going? Most importantly, why
were they here… and why now? Only the vulture family, a few Great
Blue Heron and ducks were out in this weather. This weather was for
the birds! But only the larger birds. The small songbirds would not
venture out until later… after the rains stopped and the sun
started to shine.

Earlier,
the three creatures had migrated north through thunder and lightening
and hail. Eight boats were scheduled, but that had dissolved to only
three “where the vinyl meets the water”. Their concerns
had been about low water levels, not the waves of storms moving
through the area.

Boats
had been quickly bailed before they pushed off into Sautee Creek.
The deluge limited visual contact, so the trio stayed close as they
maneuvered around and through and under deadfalls and branches. On
reaching the Chattahoochee River, the corridor widened, but not so
wide that the trees on each side could not touch on occasion.

The
foliage of the trees was changing color, and in the rain and scant
light, the muted shades of gold added just the right hue to the grays
and olive drab. The effect was awesome and exciting and relaxing all
in the same vista. When the sun would later make an appearance, it
would be received like an uninvited visitor.

The
old bird watched as the three paddlers disappeared around the bend,
navigating class II rapids with ease. They would amuse themselves
counting between lightening and thunder. Sometimes there would be no
counting. The three would leave the river at the 255 bridge with no
regrets. Some groups would wisely cancel trips on rain-swollen
rivers this weekend.

This
“Nacoochee” section of the ‘Hooch had been just right for
Connie Venuso, Sheila Small and Tom Martin, all in “real boats”
(OC-1 canoes).

by Tom
Martin
Saturday, October 25, 1997.