Sure enough, I saw a few egret and chased a flock of bufflehead six miles to the coast when I paddled the navigable length of Estero Americano the other day, but saw no sign of coot, loon, mergenser, pelican, scaup, hawk, heron or grebe. The fact is mid-February is a relatively dormant time along the Sonoma Coast despite the recent fair weather and early arrival of spring, and most migrations have been made.
With a light wind at my back on the outbound journey, I tested my paddling skills for a while by trying to sneak up on a floating flock of bufflehead a few hundred yards off my bow. Theyâ€™d inevitably start, take off to windward and fly overhead before circling around for a water landing about a quarter mile further down the slough. With no other diversions I teased the birds for a few miles until the Estero opened up and I took a break from paddling to just drift on the current I felt tugging the boat as I neared the shore on the outgoing tide. I was sailing now, and shifted my gaze to the water itself, which seemed motionless, my boat in sync with wind and tide.
Knowing Iâ€™d have a tough return paddle, I spent the remaining outbound leg drifting, thoughtlessly steering the boat and staring at the water, lost in a reverie of pure boredom. I let myself be hypnotized by the stillness of the water, the boatâ€™s gentle bobbing and the slowly amplifying fade of pounding surf as I neared the beach.
Itâ€™s a rare delight to find oneself in a state of genuine boredom these days, and I had forgotten how it frees the mind. After drifting for about an hour, I found I could generate mild hallucinations by staring out at the water with unfocused eyes. The constant motion of glassy waves reflecting the surrounding land and sky animated my daydreaming, like falling asleep but remaining awake. Itâ€™s kind of funny to rediscover boredom while seeking stimulation, but refreshing to know itâ€™s still possible; Destination: Boredom, an apt motto for exciting times.
I was greeted by some curious cattle upon my return to the flats where I launched.