Captured Sounds From Ausable Marsh

Summer's winding down, but it's still hot and muggy enough for a canoe trek to one of the wildest places in New York state. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann sends an audio postcard from Ausable Marsh, in the Champlain Valley.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Before summer slips away, North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann decided to take a day off from work for one last hot-weather canoe trip in upstate New York. With his wife Susan, Brian paddled and trekked through the Ausable Marshes in the Champlain Valley. He sent back this audio postcard.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: We've just set out into the Ausable Marshes, this gorgeous delta of marshlands and ox-bows that form here between the Ausable River and Lake Champlain. Already, just a few paddle strokes from the road, it's green and humid.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

B. MANN: The forest along the river is lush with birds. A kingfisher loops from bank to bank. It feels sort of tropical and up in the bow of the canoe, Susan strips down to her swimsuit.

SUSAN MANN: This paddling reminded me of the Louisiana bayou. Not quite as hot.

B. MANN: No, though it's pretty sultry.

S. MANN: (Laughing) It's only 9 o'clock in the morning so far.

B. MANN: We come to the mouth of the river, where the narrow woods open up to marsh grass and a sudden sweeping view of Lake Champlain. On the far shore, across from New York, lies Vermont.

S. MANN: There's a haze so that the Green Mountains are silhouetted in the distance.

B. MANN: This is a part of the marsh we've never explored before and we make a really cool discovery. The outer rim of the wetland isn't muddy or buggy.

S. MANN: This is a really clean, sandy beach, with a nice sand shelf that then falls off pretty abruptly into the cool water. There is enough of a breeze that the surface of the water is kind of quilted with ripples.

B. MANN: After the sticky paddle downriver, Susan can't wait - she goes in headfirst.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

B. MANN: So after a swim, we are now walking the boat literally kind of up to our knees on this sandy point that arcs around into Lake Champlain, the marsh on our right, the open lake on our left - a remarkable place. The view is extraordinary: the Green Mountains on one side, the Adirondacks on the other. After the delight of birds in the forest, we find that we're surrounded by another flock - actually, a school, but just as brightly colored - flitting curiously around our feet. Oh, there's a whole little shoal of fingerlings there - wow. You know, just fish and fish and fish, little teeny things, it's like...

S. MANN: They're following us.

B. MANN: This place feels like a pocket of pure wildness. When the beach gives way to deep water, we climb back in the canoe and paddle on toward home, gulls and terns spinning overhead.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRDS SQUAWKING)

B. MANN: For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in New York's Champlain Valley.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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