Kayaking on a Quiet Pond

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.

Towards the islands (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.

Approaching bog islands on a still summer day (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.

Pausing in shallows, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

I look for byways to nose into. 

Sunlit byway, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

A byway. Lots of beaver routes cut secretively through the bog brush. (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.

Bog island, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.

Young osprey at its nest, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

And my quiet paddling is rewarded with a glimpse of great blue heron. 

Great Blue Heron, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.) 

 Mussel shells, Maine lake. Note hole in underbrush; who goes through here?  (Mimi Stadler 2016)

Mussel shells, Maine lake. Note hole in underbrush; who goes through here?  (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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).

Bullhead water lily (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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. 

Weathered birdhouse, Maine lake (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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.

Stump, Maine lake shoreline (Mimi Stadler 2016)

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. 

Hammock through ferns, Maine (Mimi Stadler 2016)

Posted on July 20, 2016 .