October 15, 2012
Just as Chris and I prepared for an outing of biking and kayaking, I heard voices. Several people were coming up the steep path from the creek to our campsite. Since the adjacent shoreline is an impenetrable thicket of brambles and shrubs, the only access is by swimming or boat. I stand transfixed waiting to see who appears. The first person, a man, is in full wetsuit and snorkel, the next two, women, are in drysuits carrying dry bags. They nonchalantly walk past us. I can’t imagine what they’ve been doing. Chris asks if they’ve been gold-panning, a popular activity here, and they explain they are looking for salmon and that they came out of the water for lunch. I wish I had found out more about their project and what they are finding; I assume they were state or federal biologists.
Chris drops me off at Whiskeytown Lake and I paddle leisurely near the shoreline past Canada geese and coots. The water level is about 6-10’ below normal (although this level may be normal for this time of year, the season just before the winter rains.) The shoreline reveals beached tree stumps that would be completely submerged if the water was high. I have a strange visceral feeling that these tree remains are alive, that they embody some spirit. Perhaps it is the spirit of the drowned forest from the making of this lake. Many look like flattop octopus, more precisely “polypus”, on tippy-toes, crawling in or out of the water. Some are amusing, others threatening. Each frozen in action. I photograph some; I don’t know if their animated spirit comes through. One set of stumps I name the God-Goddess of the Stump People with its retinue, standing as guardians of the Lake.