It was still early in the morning. The red sun had risen and managed to shine its light through the smoke and haze that has blanketed our area. There were swallows sweeping above and over the lake, gathering insects, resting on the pontoon cover, then continuing their aerial acrobatics. Occasionally I could hear a bird off in the distance. But as I sat at the end of the dock, my attention was focused about 20 yards in front of me. A loon was gracefully floating by, intent on things other than my presence. It went to the south, then to the north, and then it dove under the surface. After what seemed like an unusually long time, it reappeared…with a snail and some greenery that it found on the lake bottom. It floated by me, turned, dropped everything from its beak, dove down again, and disappeared for another long time, only to resurface way out in the center of the lake.
I treasure these simple moments – the quiet of the morning, the birds, fish, and animals doing what they do in the early hours of daylight, and the ritual that has played out for decades and eons. And I try to imagine someone sitting by this same lake shore observing a similar moment one hundred, two hundred, maybe three hundred years ago.
My favorite time of the day is sunrise and dawn. The earth slowly turns out of the darkness of night and gradually there is light. At first it’s barely perceptible but gingerly the black turns to shadow. The sun nears the horizon and it’s light gets scattered above, bouncing off any clouds that are near giving them their own colors and hues. Generally, not always, the daytime winds have subsided during the night and the air is calm – as if in anticipation of the dawn. All the colors of the sunrise are reflected in the smoothness of the still lake. The loons are long gone but as the light gets brighter I can hear the ducks and geese that have not yet headed south for winter. They are gathering in larger flocks before they depart. At this point everything pauses for a suspended moment.
And then the sun rises higher in the sky throwing it’s brightness all around, the wind picks up and riffles across the lake surface, the geese and ducks take flight, the squirrels start to scurry, and our human noise of activity echos throughout the area greeting another day.
A week ago there was a lovely full moonrise. I stood by the lake and waited for the moon to clear the hill and the trees on the opposite shoreline. The wind slowly settled down, and there was a lovely quiet that wrapped around me. The waves calmed and the lake became still. Then the moon appeared – large and pearl colored, and as it rose it seemed that the tops of the trees were supporting it and offering it up to the night sky. I watched and then my ears picked up the haunting call of a loon at the other end of the lake. It all seemed a perfect rite of spring, and I savored this respite from the many worries of the world right now.
We’ve returned from a getaway to Ontario – a needed trip into the north country away from city life. We drove north of Dryden to Route Lake Lodge where we were met at the landing by Glen who motored us and our gear across the lake to the lodge. With our cabin perched on the rocks right at the edge of Route Lake we had a panoramic view of the south end of the lake. Here the terrain is rocks and trees – both coming down to the water’s edge. The weather was unseasonably warm and the winds blew constantly during the day creating whitecaps on the lake. But we were able to find lovely protected bays, sand beaches that extended around points for perfect lunch stops, and towering cliffs that dropped straight down into the depths of the lake. We were serenaded by the sound of the water lapping the rocky shoreline, an occasional boat motoring by, honking skeins of geese headed south, and the loons’ haunting cry. The sunrises were painted orange from the smoke and haze of the fires in western Canada and the US. The night sky was dark and sprinkled with stars – numerous and plentiful, with the Milky Way high above. The hospitality of the lodge owners Glen and Shirley, the beauty of the area, and the “escape” from the city was just what we needed.