In central Maine there is a quiet pond we love. We try to get there every summer for a couple of weeks. We've managed to log 26 of those 2-week stays, which adds up to a whole year of summer. Although we thought the cabin would go up for sale last year and we would not be able to return, to our relief it has not.
My kayak could be more comfortable, really, with a softer and more flexible seat, and foot pegs, but for a decade it has carried me around the lake, in morning mist and evening sunset and points in between. I have gone out in the kayak with my camera so often, that images of this lake must be imprinted permanently my brain. In times of stress I think of this lake in early July, with all its life and beauty, and I find a peaceful moment.
The lake is sometimes like glass when I set out.
There's not much sound besides the dipping of my paddle. Often someone is fishing somewhere out along the four miles of shoreline, but it's not a busy lake, and quietest in the morning. I point my kayak toward bog islands that dot this part of the lake.
Morning sun lets me see down into the water, revealing sunken logs and branches and grasses in the shallows.
When the sun is higher or there are more clouds, they reflect off the water and I can't see below.
I look for byways to nose into.
When I nose my kayak up into the fringe of the bog islands, I see cattails, stunted spruce and maples, bog rosemary, huckleberry and blueberry in flower, little bog rhododendrons, pitcher plants, sundews, laurel in pink flower, and so much more. The scents are good. The trees on the opposite bank of the lake mass softly in the background skyline.
I check on the young osprey (see all the white still in its plumage?) at its nest. It responds with a volley of peeping and angry calls and flies around its nest in a frenzy, so I paddle on.
And my quiet paddling is rewarded with a glimpse of great blue heron.
More usually I see only evidence of herons, like empty mussel shells. (They could also have been left by other lake mammals we often see here, like beaver, cormorant, or loon.)
I had seen a loon on her nest on a tiny bit of bog island way out on the lake. One evening I saw her in the distance with two fuzzy chicks riding on her back.
Paddling is great exercise, and it's easy because it's so enjoyable when I am so focused on the life in the lake.
There are fragrant water lilies (white) and bullhead lilies (yellow).
Various birdhouses have been weathering here among lichen-covered trees for years. I am interested in the contrast of wood against wood: living tree, rotting stump, and the weathered milled lumber of birdhouse or shed.
Weird and interesting stumps and the bottoms of keeled-over trees make the shoreline a mystery of shapes and colors. Their reflections on the water make them doubly interesting.
I haven't identified the bright, beautiful yellow flowers on bare stems*, so delicate and about 6" tall, that spring up among the marsh plants and on islets of sediment around the bog islands. (*Anyone know what these are? Please comment.)
If I am inclined, a hammock awaits me through the ferns as I come in to the little sandy landing spot on the lake by the cabin in Maine.