Daisies and lupine line the roadsides and a new flower “Ragged Robin” has also emerged this spring admidst the growing grasses and ripening berries. It may have been present last year, but caught up in the drifts of vervain, Joe Pye Weed, and Pearly everlasting; I missed its brief yet colorful appearance. The wild turkeys have made their way to the northernmost part of the township and bears and baby ruffed grouse are among the contestants in a race to eat the sweet red wild strawberries growing alongside the edge of the roads. I confess to also being an entrant, scrambling up and down the greening ditches to find the ripest berries, bucket in hand, hoping for enough to place on a piping hot shortcake laden with cream.
Ladyslippers have almost gone by in the sunny spots, a few still emerge from the deepest locales of shade. The early spring feathers of leaves have expanded converting the forest into a dense canopy shrouded in a myriad of greens. The wind blows and sends ripples through the billowing limbs and it is almost as if one were out on the middle of the ocean, we are surrounded by a sea of greens of every hue.
Hatches of flies have kept our guests busy this spring, on our pond and others. My favorite fishing tale is from the gentleman who was here visiting us just recently, who decided to try his hand fly fishing one of the more remote ponds. With fly rod in hand he became entranced as a moose strode up beside him, on one side an enormous creature waded peacefully by, on the other side his arm tugged, and the spell was broken as his brother cajoled to him – “fish fish!!!” I do believe the fellow almost lost the squaretail tugging at his line, caught in the moment of being that close to one of greatest of the forest denizens, his attention diverted. It is a story that I have enjoyed immensely and plan to share with many others who enjoy such tales over the coming summer days.
Speaking of tales, we were pleased to host Steve Pinkham, author of “Old Tales of the Maine Woods” on a fine summer night, as he shared some of the stories he has assembled into his latest book around our campfire. Victorian drama and culture at its finest, the stories are from another era, a time when TV’s. Iphones, and portable laptops were not readily available. Entertainment was created through words, stories, and the greatest exaggerations of all. Living at camp, without many of the modern inconveniences, these are stories to which I can relate. Some may be flowery and more dramatic than what I would find in a more modern book, yet I find each story compelling and a fine read when heard aloud near a crackling fire, with much voice inflexion, and passion in carrying the tale forward to the audience.
We were lucky enough to have a group of birders visit us recently. They of course compiled a quite a list of species in their short visit: Scarlet Tanager, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Ovenbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Flicker, Merlins, Goldfinch, Purple Finch, a pair of Ring Necked Ducks, Mergansers, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Alder Flycatcher, Solitary and Red-eyed Vireos, Swainsons and Hermit Thrush,Catbird, a variety of Warblers: Parula, Nashville, Black Throated Green, Pine, Chestnut Sided, Redstart, Magnolia, Myrtle, Black and White, Blackburnian, and Yellow. I know their list is much more extensive than my memory, but those were a few, and some of the more common sightings we have each year. Our pair of resident Canada Jays have found a new nesting place this year, and I am diligently on the prowl to find their locale, so far they have eluded me. However the eagles have not, as they have kept us quite occupied with the binoculars as we scan the opposite shore. One of the joys this group left, was pinpointing the exact locale of our nesting and now raucous Flicker fledglings. They squeak incessantly as food draws near, and the birch tree has become quite a lively place and visiting children have stood in wide eyed wonder as they watched the babies peep out of the tree to await the arrival of their mother.
We have also discovered our lawn is polka dotted with four leaf clovers, for those that do not know, Dana has a talent for finding these four pronged shamrocks of sorts. Recently, he showed a young lady one of his hot spots, (him thinking smugly to himself that would allow her to find one to take home) l think he was quite amazed to discover someone else who really had superior talent in her lucky spotting skills. I believe she left our yard holding a bouquet of close to 15 four leaf clovers, she was finding them in places where Dana could see none. She explained her secret of success to us quite simply “The more you find, the luckier you get, so you get to find more.”
Our guests have enjoyed the early summer heat, basking in the sun spread out on the Adirondack chairs, swimming in the waters of the pond, hiking, or sleeping in the shade of a screened in porch with a gentle breeze cooling them down. The weather this week has turned slightly less friendly, but for us it is a chance to toast our bones beside the wood fire, take a break from watering the garden, read some neglected books, finish crocheting, write and generally tend to inside chores that often get neglected in the summer sun. Our guests have enjoyed this weather with rousing games of cribbage, tic tac toe, and yahtzee, some have used the opportunity to go hiking in the cooler air, or have taken the time to explore the township for wildlife which can be found throughout the day on the miles of roads. Yesterday, albeit a gray sky and sporadic rain, children went swimming, we had three guests summit the mountain, and another group of guests saw four bear: one adult and three cubs, their fuzzy and black fur eliciting glee from grownups and children alike. Showing that a trip “upta camp” is indeed what you make it, together or alone, active or sedentary, joy can be found. Others have relished uninterrupted bouts of marathon reading, long talks, and generally remembering what it is like to spend quiet time with one another, parents have focused on their children, completely undistracted and without the stress of being pulled in a variety of directions. To me such mundane simplicity captures the essence of the slices of time and the moments of your life well lived in these rustic old cabins along the shore of Spencer Pond.