Saturday, September 20, 2014

Contemplating Infinity

Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, North Carolina
36 30.412 N 076 21.359 W

OK, I'll try to set the scene.   It is a nice sunny day, not too warm.   We started moving south on the canal around 11 AM after buying groceries.   Libby was down below putting groceries away.

I moved my folding seat to the ice chest forward of the mast.  It makes a grand throne.  I had rigged up lines running back to the tiller so that I could steer from up front.  Think of the reins of a team of horses.   That practice is illegal in several states because I am not within reach of the throttle. But I love doing it, and I do it only when we will not come close to other boats or personal property.

So, what do I see from that throne?  I see the dead straight narrow canal extending to the vanishing point.  Better, as I look at the still water, I see the dark reflection of trees left and right and the bright reflection of the sky in the middle.  Those also extend to the vanishing point.   What else can one think of in such as scene other than infinity.  The vanishing point in this case is only 1-2 miles in front of me.  I know that with a telescope I could see farther, but there would still be a varnishing point.  But I also know that in mathematics parallel lines never do meet.   Vanishing points are an illusion. An artifact of the finite resolving power of our sight.

Alongside, is the wildlife of the DSC.  Lots of birds of course.  Most prominent today were the turtles.  Every log or branch laying in the water was populated with turtles warming themselves in the sun. I even saw one with 8 turtles very neatly arranged in order of size.  Biggest first, down to smallest last.  What do the turtles do?  They seem intent on imitating turtle statues.  They don't move.  They don't seem to breath.  Their heads do not turn to look at the boat passing by.  On rare occasions, one can catch a deer, or a bear, or a snake swimming across the canal.   Once we saw an animal swimming.  It could have been an otter, or a nutria.

In the DSC all hazards of life on water disappear.  A hurricane could rage and the winds wouldn't touch us in the canal, nor could the storm surge find its way up her.  It is peaceful, tranquil and secure.  Can't you see why we say it is food for the soul?

I should add, that we only see the DSC in the spring and fall.  Robert the lock master, told us that the 6 week annual season for biting flies just ended.  Biting flies are how the swamp got the name dismal. But Libby and I have never been here in the dismal seasons.

We have to get to Elizabeth City soon.  Our supply of clean laundry is nearly exhausted.  But we are in no hurry to leave.  We may walk the trails today.  We'll also spend an evening anchored in the place we call "The Pearly Gates" .  I've blogged about that place before and again.   After that, we still must traverse the upper part of The Pasquotank River; that we think is the prettiest stretch of the whole ICW.   It is best seen in the early morning as mist lifts off the water.   

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