Leaping squaretails! A dusky paddle reveals rusty blackbirds, moose, and more

My paddle dips softly into the water, breaking the crystal clear reflection of mountains and cotton-puff clouds. I increase my pace,quickening the stroke, gliding gently out into the center of the flat calm pond, the mountain is before me, underneath me, beside me, my quickening strokes propel  me yet closer and through it in the mirrored water top reflection.

In front of me looms Lobster mountain.  I slowly drift and gaze into the swampy
shoreline, rhodora and Labrador tea lace the edge, some blossoms still faintly
visible in the fading sunlight.  I am escorted by a chorus of banjos struck in tune by the multitude of green frogs singing along the water’s edge. I am struck by how the papery feathered needles of the Tamaracks (Larchs and Hackmatacks to some) sit softly in the evening air, bringing the swamp to life. Red winged blackbirds perch and sing, but I am entranced by one unusual specimen, his song capturing my attention. Towards him I paddle, and to my delight he is not camera shy, unfortunately the kayak drifts into the edge and away from the best view, but I am able to capture one quick shot of this fine fellow making his display – he is a Rusty blackbird,and here is my prize and treasure for the day. Amidst the calls of Common Yellowthroats, Swamp Sparrows, Swainson’s Thrush, Snipe, and Loons,  I  am captivated for the moment by the squeaking call on one rather nondescript fellow, clad simply in black needing no other adornment. His tail fans out spreading and wide, and his shoulders puff sideways showing his might, he is a proud fellow,and though his sueaking call does not match the rich coc-ka-lee of the swarming Red-Wings, in my mind, no finer a black bird could one find. Heartened by this unexpected discovery, I slip onwards, maybe I will find a rail, or a heron. What new discoveries await me admidst the marshy shore?  As if on cue I hear the Marsh Wren start his
song, singly out boldly and piercing the night air as the sun truly begins to
fall. The peepers begin to sing, and I cruise the shoreline, ears listening,
eyes scanning. I catch a moose just slipping into the cover of the woods, the
movement flickering out of the corner of my eye, and no sound, except for one
quick sucking whoosh as one foot must have lifted from the mud. I am sold, this
is the place to be as the sun sets and the children lie sleeping in their beds.
I am now drifting mesmerized by water as the tiny criss cross ripples of water
begin to sparkle with the setting sun.  They seem to be carrying me sideways on a silent north woods conveyor belt, they are moving so fast, and yet when I check my bearings against the land I find I have not moved at all. “WHUMP, SPLASH” goes the thump of the beavers tail, jolting me upright into the kayak. I look sideways to see the crafty gal swim off silently towards the other shore. I giggle inside, thinking of how I truly jumped, and how entrancing the water was. I look up at the sky, the clouds just faintly tinged with a smudge of pink, with bluing edges and there appears the glimmer of the crescent moon. The stars have not yet arrived, and I will be on my way back to camp as the first one puts forth the first twinkle. The black flies start to swarm around my head, one flies into my eye, and I remember not to open my mouth unless they become an unintentional dessert.  I do not swat, I just paddle slowly, they aren’t biting, more of an annoyance than anything. Deep in my mind, I can’t help wishing I had brought my fishing pole instead of my camera, with flies this thick, I know the fishing is good. I am right, just as the thought begins to bounce inside my head, I watch the fish surface and jump into the pond. I contemplate raising my camera, but the light is low, and the chances of catching that perfect picture seem ominous at the moment, besides more movement seems to attract more flies, unless I am moving away, so I sit quietly and watch. There is my Great Blue Heron, perched on the opposite shore, standing so still and with such a crook, that at first I mistook him for another log. He is waiting patiently as am i. Finally the flies are too much and they drive me off. I look across the pond, gazing fondly at the faint blue reflection of Squaw mountain, looking off to Lily Bay and Baker to my left, the mountain –Kokadjoweemgwasebemsis slipping into the distance behind me. As I reach the camp yard  I again move slowly. The American
Bittern is in his place in the swamp, wood ducks have flown over my head, and I
have watched Golden eyes alighting on top of the water in a small cove. I hope
to catch another moose, or maybe a deer, but then again morning is best for
that. Reluctantly I paddle to shore, but the heady scent of the lilacs is there
to greet me, along with the perfume of the crabapples and the slight fragrance
of the Lily of the Valley in bloom as I drag the kayak along the shore and back
to its place. I stand quietly and survey the darkening camp yard, trees,
flowers, the freshly painted stained lodge, benches, and picnic tables. The
sparkling new window and the dark green roof. The camp yard is neat and tidy.
The Maine Lodge  stands out sharply and I am proud. Proud to be here, proud to become part of the history of this place, and proud to see it coming together with the teamwork of a family who loves it. I am proud  of my talented husband whose love for me and our combined vision  has actually managed to weld past, present, and future, into a melting pot of restorative work, that has brought these dear camps to life. It is wonderful to be here, captivated by the magic of the pond.

Spencer Pond June 6, 2011

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