Thursday, April 11, 2024

An Island of Refuge or Misery?

I closed my last post mentioning the need for visiting an airport and finding a small island.  On Eclipse Day morning I did just that by driving to a Massachusetts coastal town I'd not previously visited...


 ...and launched my kayak from Winthrop Town Landing into the waters of Boston Harbor.
  
Just across from where I launched is Logan International Airport where this plane was set for take off...

However, rather than envying those aboard the airplane I was very happy to be enjoying my first salt water paddle of 2024.   Conditions for early April couldn't have been better with abundant sunshine, warming temperatures, lessening wind, and a rising tide.  My goal was to paddle out to one of Boston Harbor's more infamous islands...

...which on this Boston Harbor Islands map (partial) is shown in green.  The island's proximity to Winthrop, Boston, and Logan International Airport can be seen...

Additionally NOAA Chart 13272 was useful.  Despite it being such a beautiful morning there were only a handful of other boats encountered as most boats are still in winter storage.
 
Arriving at Deer Island I landed at its north tip about a mile from where I'd launched in Winthrop...

 A small park there welcomes visitors including those who reach the island by car via the short causeway that, since the early 1940s, connects the island to Winthrop. 
The view looking north from the park...

The view to the south from the park...
A paved pathway runs around the island's shoreline. 

Numerous kiosks provide information about the island's history and its many uses over the years...

This kiosk attests to what happened here in 1675-1676...
..."One of the saddest chapters in Deer Island's long history was the internment of Native Americans during King Philip's War. In 1675, Metacomet, who was known to the English as King Philip, was incensed with the jurisdiction imposed over his domain by the Massachusetts Bay Council.  He, along with other sovereign Indian Tribes in Massachusetts, retaliated with an armed assault upon Colonial villages. The Colonists responded by rounding up Native Americans from Natick and other "praying towns" around Boston on October 31st.  They were hurried into boats along the Charles River in Watertown and ferried to Deer Island.  Those interned on Deer Island were given few provisions and suffered great hardships during a brutal winter. Incarcerated too late to plant corn - and with few other food staples on this desolate island - many starved.  They lacked adequate shelter from the bitter cold, but were not allowed to cut firewood. Colonial settlers were authorized to kill any Native Americans found off Deer Island not accompanied by an English guard.  As the conflict continued more Indians of various tribes were incarcerated on Deer Island, Long Island, and other islands within the Bay of Boston.  Although it is unknown how many Indians were incarcerated on these islands during the harsh winter months of 1675-76 it is known that many perished.  Since 1991, descendants of those Indians, along with others of like mind, gather to commemorate this sorrowful episode of America's history.  They retrace the journey of their innocent ancestors; from Natick to the Charles River and here, to Deer Island.  They gather for prayers and reflection.  The event takes place the last weekend of October each year."

A Celtic Cross commemorates the hundreds of Irish immigrants who died on Deer Island during Ireland's "Great Potato Famine" in the late 1840s...
For some of them, Deer Island was as close as they would make it to the refuge they sought. 

These days while some spots on the island have a natural look...
...there's no denying the island's main task is protecting the waters of Boston Harbor by housing the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's wastewater treatment facility.  This large and complex facility receives wastewater from the greater Boston area that is treated before ultimately being discharged 9 miles out to sea..  To most folks the island's most recognizable feature is the cluster of digesters that are often referred to as "dinosaur eggs"...

Another kiosk pays tribute to the federal judge who helped to nudge along the harbor's cleanup...


 A memorial to the Hon. A. David Mazzone stands at water's edge...
...on which his ruling is noted "the law secures to the people the right to a clean harbor."


Below is the view across the harbor to Boston proper some 4-miles westward...
...where in 1675 the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Council convened in the Town House. The Custom House building with its clockface helps to locate the general  area where the Town House once stood and today's Old State House currently stands...

In April of 1676 at the height of  King Philip's War there was a nearly month long window where negotiations for a peaceful resolution and exchange of hostages was attempted.  In early April the Colonial Council enlisted one of the Native Americans interned on Deer Island to act as an emissary to the Sachems gathered at Mount Wachusett, a Native American stronghold.  This emissary was known as Tom Doublet (Nepanet was his Native American name) and he would ultimately make three trips from Deer Island to Mount Wachusett (located 48 miles to the west) carrying letters between the Colonial Council and the Sachems.  Thus, three distinct locations played a role during this pregnant moment in time: Deer Island where the "Praying Indians" were interned, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's Town House where the Colonial Council convened, and Mount Wachusett where the Nipmuc, Wampanoag, and Narragansett Sachems at war with the colony were encamped.
  
 
 
Some additional photos from Monday's time on the water:
What I believe is Great Blue Hill (12 miles southwest) said to be the source of our state's name "Massachusetts"...
...and where near its base was the Praying Village Ponkapoag.

The Boston Harbor Hotel's archway...

Deer Island Light at the island's south tip...

Loons and the Dorchester Gas Tank's "Rainbow Swash"...

A closer look at one of the loons...

Other ducks seen, included buffleheads...

...and what I think are eiders...


Trash was gathered up from where I landed and launched and included 11 "nip" bottles found nestled in the seaweed...

The last thing I did before leaving Winthrop was to stop at Belle Isle Seafood and enjoy my first fresh seafood meal of the season.  It was a nice precursor to the period of eclipse-induced eerie twilight I'd witness on the drive home.

As to Nepanet and his three journeys to and from Wachusett, I'm left to wonder how he made the trip...on foot or on horseback?  Would the Colonial Council have provided him a horse?...or just expect him to walk the 48 miles?  What route might he have followed?  I'm guessing it took him two days to cover the distance.  Was he required to return to Deer Island after each trip?  How did he get back and forth from the island? 

One other thought concerns another island in the harbor, Noddles Island (now part of East Boston), where Baptists were banished to by the intolerant Puritans.  In December 1675 one such Baptist, William Turner, was being detained there until his release sometime in January 1676 conditioned upon his raising a troop of fellow Baptists to fight Native Americans.  Turner would later play a pivotal role in extinguishing any and all possibilities of a peaceful resolution.  Seems all these people and places were on a collision course.  Who among them were the genuine seekers of peace?
  


Sunday, April 7, 2024

Refuge of a Sort at Oxbow

 

Sunshine wasn't easy to find this past week.  Wind, on the other hand, was plentiful especially during our late week nor'easter.  Thus Tuesday, before the storm, provided my best shot to get out on the water.  Launched into the Nashua River from the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge in Harvard, MA.

The water level was high as it's been for all the rivers 'round these parts of late.  Here an obstructed stream found a new path to the river...


The first piece of plastic trash encountered...

...proved to be a bad omen when two days later I awoke to a snow-covered landscape.

This 2.5 mile stretch of river once again produced plenty of plastic trash, especially those pesky little "nip" bottles of which 104 were sorted out...


The week had the aforementioned storm, and an earthquake. Throw in news reports that get whackier by the day and it's almost enough to make a fellow drive to the airport in hopes of finding refuge on a small island.
   

Monday, April 1, 2024

Eagles and an Easter Egg Rock

Enjoyed some high-water-level paddling on the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers this past week.   

The Sudbury River in Wayland, Lincoln, and Concord on Wednesday provided some fine springtime paddling conditions.

Fairhaven Bay...


The outlet from Farrar Pond...


The Sudbury River eagle nest is back in business with one adult eagle sitting on an egg (s)...

...while its mate was seen nearby...

Fresh warning signs posted along the river (this one at Sherman's Bridge)...
...left me admiring the eagle's determination to reproduce despite fish from the river being a large part of their diet.  There have been several years where the eaglets didn't survive.  However, last year this nest produced two eaglets that appeared to fledge and hopefully survived.  

The Assabet River in Concord, MA on Easter morning didn't disappoint.  It was full to the brim and then some...


The inscription at Egg Rock was readable by only the fish, yet again...

Thoreau is said to have referred to this location as Mantatuktet Rock according to A Guide to Places in Concord and Lincoln Named in the Journal of Henry David Thoreau compiled by Ray Angelo.  Mantatuket was said to have been the name of a Native American man living there in the late 1600s.
 

The high water levels allowed closer-than-usual access to the outlet of Dakins Brook (from Macone's Pond)...

The booms at the tip of my boat's bow are leftover from a 2023 automobile accident in which a car plunged into the stream. 

Trash from the Sudbury included a baker's dozen "nip" bottles...


Trash from the Assabet included nine "nip" bottles...


This shamrock would have been a perfect find on St. Patrick's Day...




 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Bit of a Backslide

Spring did a bit of a backslide this past week with some blustery winter-like conditions.  I was able to get in a couple of weekday paddles: Wednesday on the Merrimack River in North Chelmsford, MA and Friday on the Assabet River in West Concord, MA.

Skies over the Merrimack reflect the season's uncertainty... 


Kept in the lee of the wind by hugging the river's west side past Stony Brook where a string of freight cars were being picked up by a pair of CSX locomotives...


After the train departed to the west I headed upriver a little past the north tip of Wickasee Island.  My return trip was via the sheltered canal on the island's east side...


On Friday, after Thursday's cold and wintry conditions, I got out on the Assabet River in West Concord, MA...

Traveling up to Damonmill's outlet canal...
Then down past a commuter train in symmetry with the bridge...

A side trip up Nashoba Brook was stopped by this fallen tree at the Commonwealth Street Bridge...


There was plenty of plastic trash lining the Merrimack's banks...


A bit less on the Assabet...


One of the friendlier pieces of plastic found on the Merrimack...


The Assabet offered this profound observation by the Colonel Sanders...


The week started spring-like but ended with my winter hat and pogies being required.