Saturday, April 11, 2009

Of Wet Roads and A Hawk

I went for a short motorcycle jaunt today. I swapped an old fairing back on in place of the effective-but-awkward one I have been using for two years. I wanted a bit of highway speed shakedown to see if I had any buffeting or undo wind noise. After hitting the bank for cash I headed north on the Interstate. At 75-80 (and getting passed) all was well and the wind was hitting me right in the top of the chest. Perfect! I dropped off to Hwy V figuring I would cut over and see if the Merrimac ferry was operational. A few miles up V I came to a road closed sign. *shrug* Probably a bridge repair I figured. Took a left, a right, and the next right to come back to V a half-mile or so later. Ah, now I understand the Road Closed sign...

Patton Road flooded
Patton Road Flooded

On the Baghira I might have attempted it, but not on the Honda 919. I did a U-turn and tried the next road. Schumacher Road was open, but only because highway crews had brought in a LOT of gravel and rock to raise a new, higher road bed in several spots. Here you can see where the water was in relation to the road:

Schumacher Rd barely above water
Schumacher Road Passable

If the water rises one inch more it will be on the roadway, and another three would cover the road. Since we haven't had much rain in the last week, I assume this is significantly down from where it must have been. While I was standing around taking a couple of pictures, I heard something in the water behind me. I turned and saw a hawk in the water!

Floundering Hawk
Floundering Hawk
View This Image Large

He was struggling to reach something substantial, but all the weeds were too soft to support him. He was clearly tiring quickly. I figure he must have stooped on something or tried to land and the weeds were too soggy to support him and he became mired. I guestimated his distance from the road at 40 feet or so, with indeterminable water depth in between.

Floundering Hawk

I must have watched for 15 minutes or so, fantasizing about someone driving by with a canoe or john boat on their truck. No such luck. There was too much traffic for me to strip down and wade out there (not to mention the thought of, umm, hanging out there when trying to rescue a hawk that might not be quite as tired as I guessed), and I knew I'd need to leave my boots on to walk into a submerged cornfield. Hmmm.

Floundering Hawk

He was clearly in trouble. Nothing out there was supporting his weight, and he was running our of steam. I donned my rain pants, hoping to keep me a little dryer and started wading out there. My boots filled up instantly and became leather buckets. Wow! The water was cold. Maybe 50 degrees (F), but maybe not. In two steps I was knee deep, and the third took me to mid thigh and was still angling down. Nope. I wasn't going to get that wet and still have to ride a motorcycle home 15 miles at highway speeds. I returned to the road, doffed my rain pants and noticed that the zipper on my expensive kevlar riding pants had blown open at the knee. #^&**!!! I pulled off my boots and dumped them out, then wrung out my socks. Would have been a good day to be wearing wool longies, but no, I had on cotton pants that were soaked to the knee. Nothing I could do about that, so I sat down on the road and tried to fix my zipper. Making a long story short, after half an hour of wrestling with that damned zipper, it broke, losing two teeth. Great. Now they are useless. In the meantime I had been keeping an eye on the hawk. He was no longer moving. At this point I presume he has drowned, or is so tired that he will soon.

I find an old trash bag and tear off enough to tie my no-longer-closable pant leg. As I ride home I feel three things:

- sadness for the hawk
- bitter cold from mid-thigh down
- madness at my pants

(and yes, I know that forms a haiku)

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