Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 61: Twisted metaphors

The Qu'Appelle is so blessed with meanders that I have seen a number of cut-throughs as well, in all stages of development. When I have the opportunity to cut through a meander I feel great, like I have saved considerable time and distance over my map. This feeling even even outlasts the remembrance that all the other meanders have grown longer to make up the difference.
My happiest memory of one of these cut-throughs was from earlier on the Qu'Appelle. I had acquired about three families of mallards in the course of an hour, and had been unable to shake them, they continued to lead me raising bedlam as they went. I came to a short meander and saw that it had a narrow cut-through, just wide enough for my canoe. It was still immature enough that the main current, and the ducks, continued around the bend. When I got through to the other side, there were the ducks still on the outside of the meander. When they saw me they turned around and swam upstream. It was a joyous occasion.

In the previous couple of days I had seen a few channels that may have been cut-throughs, but had not taken them. I couldn't see to the end, and was worried they would become too narrow or shallow for my boat to pass. At least once this was fortuitous, as I saw a moosess and her two calves I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I have not seen many moose this trip, and I'm very happy when I do.

I finally came to one that seemed to have some flow, and reasoned that it was narrow, but traight. The main channel was wide but twisted. Heaven demands that I take the cut-through.
I went thirty feet before the canoe just stopped in the channel. There was mud all around, everywhere, and my boat was big and stuck. I had to get out to help it along. I stepped out in the pool ahead to try pulling it along. Splash! That was deeper than I expected and I was soaked to the armpits. I took off my wet clothes and climbed the mud beside the boat. I rocked the boat to widen the channel. After some effort I was able to get it free, although there were still a couple more places I had to yank it through the channel.

It took far longer than just floating the meander. Sometimes, I guess you should just go with the flow.

Further down, there was a terribly thin meander with just a strip of land holding it together. There was a beaver lodge on the point of this meander. I noticed that the water must have been higher earlier in the year, and had begun to cut through the strip of land in a couple of places, down to about a foot or two higher than the river itself. The beavers must have been intent on protecting their investment, and had filled these gaps with sticks to put off the inevitable.
With all this erosion going on the river became quite muddy again. Since Round Lake I had grown accustomed to sleeping on decent rock bars, but now the banks were all layered in mud. After looking all evening for a clean campsite, I had to leave the canoe on a mudbank and climb my stuff up an eight foot slope to a lat, dry spot under some trees.

This proved to be a fortuitous location.

Day 61 ended: 50*29.566N, 101*31.446W

1 comment:

John said...

I have some questions, but I'm still reading through the archives, so maybe that stuff will be answered in due time.

I like the hook at the end, and in a journey narrative, sometimes it's wrong to fight the meandering.

It's probably too much to ask to have you link the pictures in with the posts, but consider it, I think it would add a lot, and it breaks up text well. (and watch me not put any in my comments)

Following the challenge you put to me on the phone of writing about what I do each day, I'll think I describe a bit of what happened today.

Today at Wolfram, I finally had a database I could test against, but was still having assertions fail in the kernel. So, I rebuilt the kernel, but in the middle of trying to make the files consistent, I accidentally blew away some of the cvs files.

While I was thinking about what to do about that, I just used a previous build from the build server. I managed to make some headway with that, but then ran into another problem, that the database didn't seem to be playing with the accessor code right. (I came up with a possible work around on the walk home, if I don't hear from the authors soon).

So, I turned my attention back to the cvs issue. Fortunately, it wasn't an area I actively worked in, so I blew it all away and checked out again. This worked, and I compiled a kernel.

So much for work. Dinner tonight was fantastic: quesadillas with mango salsa, guacamole, sour cream, with corncake as a side. I love Mexican food.

S's not feeling particularly well today.

I've still been chatting with my old advisor and his grad student. I've been making the case that they need to systematically catalog the cases at hand, in order to avoid using their terminology unambiguously. I hoped to be writing software with them, but I think it's useful push on ideas until you can't easily knock them over.

I came up with the saying "The future of the Future is the future" a while ago (it takes a little to unpack that, so I'll save that for a different reply), but today I realized it would be a great lecture title if I ever travel out to California and take up the futures folks on a chance to give a talk.