summer of becoming – two women, one canoe – 5

Day 5, Misty Lake

Morning. Sitting quietly now, next to the marsh, down the shoreline trail from our campsite. It is still quite grey  and damp, occasionally breaking into a light drizzle, even after those few spots of sun on the rocks during breakfast enlivened our hopes for drying our gear.

I am donning dry clothes, which I intend to keep that way, though even my raingear is damp. So, the tent may be my refuge and my retreat if the rain picks up again in earnest. The shelter she provided last evening and overnight awakened me, warm and rejuvenated.

This marsh is lined with wildflowers- purple gentian, yellow goldenrod, pink aster, and that fuschia plume that we hope to identify. My camera lens is fogged on the inside, so photo taking, which would ordinarily fill my eyes with wonder on a slow day like today, is not possible. Perhaps this is yet another invitation to stillness.

A red squirrel chatters, a distant loon calls, a small patch of sunlight passes, though the skies remain heavy.  A quack, a flutter, the rush of a breeze, a splash. Now, a bee skims by my ear on the breeze. Moment by moment, changes to behold. …Now, I am chilled with a blast of cold air. Now, I am warmed by the sun.

An otter is busy, far into the marsh. I can spot just his head swimming to and fro. A slow, spreading circle reveals that something has risen, or perhaps alighted, to snatch an insect from the water’s surface. Now, a distant bawl of some sort and the sound of something large plopping into the water. I wonder if a moose is grazing just around the far edge of my vision, wading in the water there. Or perhaps it was the kerplunk of a beaver tail’s warning, which sounds like a bowling ball being dropped in the water, according to Jeb.  I could rise to explore, but I am content here, simply being , my senses awake, noticing what is.

There is a scent here that I would not have named before now… not muck, but more green somehow than that. I wonder if it were able to put it into a box that I could open sometime later, perhaps this winter, if I would recognize it as Algonquin marsh. I suppose that this journal might capture that scent here for me.

Now something peeps behind me, but perhaps it is more like a screech. …..



I have just walked back to camp for my rain jacket, to use as a wind break and to offer a barrier to the dampness, though now the sun has broken through. (Oh how glorious is the sun!) Still though, it mists, and I scan for a rainbow, which surely must appear, and I notice that to my left, along the southeastern horizon, the clouds remain dark and ugly.

Across the bay, a large bird, perhaps a cormorant, perches on the exposed end of a submerged log, attempting like me to dry her wings. A loon fishes nearby for her noontime meal. I realize that I too am hungry. My friend has taken a walk around to the end of the cove to see what she can see, so I shall wait for her company, even as the loons have also found theirs – there are four of them now in the bay, fishing.

Much later,

What an absolutely glorious last day in camp! Thank you

As we sat watching the marsh, this late morning, a family of otters came out for their day of apparent play (though I’m also certain they were out fishing for their sustenance.. a lesson there, yes?) They slide through the water like dolphins, then pop their attentive heads, like periscopes, to peer curiously about. Across logs and through lilypads they dart and they glide. Once, the young otter became separated from his parents and began yipping in distress, his calls quickly responded to.

After a long while, the otters swam back toward their den in the shoreline, where at this time my friend and I were inadvertently standing. We had noted several dugout areas in the bank, into which one there was still a watery passageway leading. When the male spotted us, he rose to his full length and grunted quite disapprovingly at our presence. The other two grunted their dismay, as well, from a spot safely behind him, until at last they all turned on their tummies and slipped, disgruntled, away.

After lunch, a loon wailed so plaintively from around the bend, her voice echoing round the lake and into our cove. I was struck by the mournful quality of her call, so haunting in its beauty. Ahh… another calls even now, breaking the silence of this evening in which I sit recalling and writing, an evening at last without the sounds of the rain pounding or pattering, or wind rushing. It is quite still, the stars at last reappearing for the first night since our very first one here.

Sometimes, I feel as if the earth is apologizing on nights such as this, just to make sure I will still love her, as after a terrible quarrel with a lover.  She tests my resolve and reminds me that I am indeed small and vulnerable, not at all in control as I’d like to be. The colors of this evening’s sunset, reflecting off those at last retreating clouds, feel like the rainbow after Noah’s infamous flood.

I took the canoe out for a paddle after lunch (a late lunch, albeit, for it was after 4 when I embarked) only to quickly discover, after just a minute or two of paddling,  two moose – a mother and her calf – just around the corner from our campsite at the edge of the marsh! I called to my friend, excitedly yet cautiously, and she took off by land to watch too.  I paddled as close as I could, until the marsh muck proved unpassable, then returned to the land and the trail with my friend. My approaching footfall at first frightened the moose back into the bush, but soon they emerged at a point further along, and we sat watching them for probably two hours or more, hunkered down in the brush opposite them.

I was delighted by the way that the moose blows air from her nostrils, blowing bubbles, when she plunges her mouth into the water to tear at the grasses and lilies. The calf stays very close by, mirroring her mother’s movements, learning from her while guarded by her. Their ears, like a deer’s, are quite sensitive, turning independently of each other in the direction of the slightest of sounds. At times, either startled or cautious, they would lift their heads from the water, to stare, frozen, with fronds of plants dangling from the sides of their jaws, which made me giggle more than once. Moving quite slowly and apparently deliberately, through both water and across the land, the calf stays close to the tail of her mother. Entering the woods at last, it seemed that almost at once they disappeared, like an apparition melting into the landscape so completely one would not believe they had been there at all.

During that long sit, I also delighted in a hummingbird visiting the marsh meadow, coming so close I could almost have touched her, along with some bees, bumble and otherwise. A small flock of wren-like birds fluttered in the dwarfed pines nearby as two hawks screeched overhead. Later, a beaver made his early evening rounds as we ate dinner on the rocks.

Now, we are as packed as we can be, ready to begin our long paddle and portage tomorrow. We hope to be on the water by 6 as the day’s travel may take as long as 8 hours to complete. I do hope the weather holds. I must sleep now. Early to rise.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kidfriendlyyoga
    Mar 12, 2017 @ 09:02:33

    Lovely pictures to compliment your lovely writing.



  2. kidfriendlyyoga
    Mar 12, 2017 @ 09:02:33

    Lovely pictures to compliment your lovely writing.



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