|Nanook's Campfire Tales|
|Dead Body on the Oromocto|
Sooner or later, everyone who spends any time driving on the highway sees it in all its gory glory … roadkill. I'm confident I don't need to elaborate, except to say that I've seen just about every form of local wildlife rendered into road pizza in my travels over the years.
But what about the paddling highway? I have a few vivid memories I can't seem to forget of corpses in the water or on the shore.
As a child, I watched the bloated carcasses of several black-and-white Jersey cows float down the Saint John River behind my father's house, apparently victims of a late spring freshet that flooded the meadows where they grazed upriver on the Nashwaak tributary stream. I've glimpsed the remains of many a moose or deer on the beaver dam pond.
Okay, enough already. I get the picture, and so do you, I bet.
But still I feel compelled to recall the time Peter and I went for a day trip on the North Oromocto. It was a cold and wet spring day, and we were looking forward to the takeout by the bridge in Tracy. The river is placid in this stretch, and we were more observant of our surroundings as we sailed through the last few turns of the waterway.
Gazing at the near shore, I spied a pink shape, about the size of a football, bobbing in the alders a few paddle strokes away. I felt an immediate aversion to looking any closer, but still I pointed it out to Pete. He too had the same dark suspicion as I did. Was it a dead baby in the water? It sure looked like it, assuming I knew what a dead baby looked like.
We glided slowly closer, and saw as we drew near that the pink shape was floating on its stomach, and had tiny pink arms and legs and a small round head on a short neck. No hair. Our fears were taking solid form. A young child had come to grief, and its body had been snatched away by the current of the Oromocto. It lay face-down, pinned in the alders.
Suddenly, I reached with my paddle and flipped the body over on its back. We both stared at its face. If it really was a human baby, it sure was ugly.
It turned out to be a beaver that some trapper had caught and skinned upriver, and tossed back into the stream. We had a few snorts and belly-laughs --- after we got over our initial shock and nausea, that is. Ha!
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