Friday, September 11, 2009

Sophie's island

I came home utterly exhausted last night. Still feeling it this morning.

I think life energy is like a rechargeable battery. When it's new (or young), it seems inexhaustible. You wear yourself out, recharge, and then you're ready to go again. As the battery ages, it still seems like it has the same level of energy, but it just doesn't last as long. The time between recharges grows shorter, the time to recharge grows longer. That's how I feel now.

Nancy and I were going to go kayaking on Black River Lake but Nancy has been there before and wanted to kayak somewhere new, so we went to Gaspereau Lake instead. I haven't been on either lake so it was immaterial to me which one we chose.

What makes Gaspereau a nice lake to kayak on is that it is full of barely submerged boulders. This is fine for kayaks and canoes but utterly dangerous for motorboats, so hardly anyone thinks of motorboating there. The boulders are scattered throughout the lake only inches below the surface, and the water is so dark that you can't see them until you are on top of them.

Gaspereau is also full of little islands, some so small they only support a few blades of grass, others large enough to support a small forest.

My map showed a put-in at the south end of the lake at the end of a dirt road, we easily found it and put our kayaks into the lake there. We paddled northward along the shoreline, and pulled in at a small cabin for lunch. In spite of it being a gorgeous day there was hardly anyone on the lake except us and certainly no one at the cabin. It had a small sandy beach for pulling in and a picnic table nearby for eating the lunches we had packed.

After lunch we checked out a couple of islands in the lake. A friend of Nancy's, Sophie, owns a small island in this lake and Nancy thought it would be fun to try to find it. Apparently Sophie and her husband had built a small tent platform on their island but nothing else.

The first island we landed on was obviously being used at as a party site. There was a fire pit surrounded by garbage. Whoever parties there doesn't bother to clean up after themselves.

The next island we stopped at did indeed have some kind of camping structure on it, and a small outhouse. It was quite clean and tidy. We are guessing that this might be Sophie's island. The camping structure is a kind of roof framework that you could drape tarps over to cover a picnic table and maybe a couple of tents on rainy days. It was obviously built by rank amateurs, we had a good chuckle over some of the structural details. Sophie and her partner are not particularly handy, they are naturalists and scientists, but definitely not carpenters, so we thought this might be the kind of thing they might build. Very funky.

We had some tea and cookies there and then went for a swim in the lake. The water was very warm on the surface but cool further down, quite invigorating! And nice to go swimming in a completely empty lake. Empty of other people that is. We saw and heard bald eagles, loons and ravens, and also saw fish jumping out of the water to catch flying insects. When I was in the water a bald eagle circled in the air above me. I imagined he was trying to determine if I was some kind of large edible fish. Apparently he decided No, and flew away.

The lake was glassy smooth, paddling on it was dreamlike. It was hard to see where the water left off and the sky began, the shore and islands appeared to float somewhere in between. Everything was perfectly reflected in smooth water, so islands appeared as symmetric lenses, and boulders in the water or along the shore appeared as arrowheads lying on their sides. You could go into a trance and imagine yourself just floating somewhere in the universe.

Many years ago, when I was a young teenager, I fell out of a tree at our summer cottage. I remember being helped back to the cottage and I must have been put to bed because the next thing I remember is waking up on a couch in the cottage living room trying to remember how I got there. Not just from the tree to the couch, but how I got to be at the cottage in the first place. I was lying there trying to piece back my memories, to reconstruct the summer. I was almost totally successful, but there was one memory that I couldn't quite place. I thought it might be a dream.

In the dream I woke up early in the morning in a tent beside the cottage, and I got up and ran down to the edge of the lake. The water was glassy smooth and there was a heavy mist or fog on the water. My younger brother was in a canoe on the lake, but you couldn't see where the water left off and the mist began, so he appeared to be floating in mid-air in his canoe. I called to him and he paddled into shore and I got into the canoe and paddled out on the lake with him.

I asked my brother about this dream, and he said it was not a dream, it really happened, the morning of the day I fell out of the tree. But to this day I remember it as a dream, not a real event. And today, paddling on Gaspereau Lake, was like that.

When we got back to shore and loaded our kayaks onto the car, we discovered that we couldn't get out the road we had come in on. It turned out it was a gated private road and someone had locked the gate with us on the inside. We had to find that person and get them to unlock the gate for us to leave, that took about an hour to do. Then we drove to Canning to pick up Nancy's daughter who has an after-school job waiting at a local cafe, Nancy's daughter needed more time before she was ready to leave so we had supper there while we waited. It was excellent! A bean burrito with Mexican rice. If you're ever in Canning, try Al's Fireside Cafe. Al also makes sausages and you can eat them there or buy a package to take home. I haven't tried them yet but am told they are really good.

I have some more pictures of kayaking on the lake but it will take too long to upload them all so I will do that another time.


Barbara Anne said...

What an amazing day you and Nancy had! Zen floating on a glassy lake. How sweet it is.

I like your analogy about energy and a battery. I certainly know I'm no longer a new battery and what a bother and bummer that is.

You've flung a craving on me. I want a bean burrito!


Wisewebwoman said...

Annie, how lovely to be suspended between the real and the ethereal. Awesome!
And I can so relate to recharging time taking longer. We are slightly leaky, us old batteries.....

20th Century Woman said...

Annie, that was heavenly to read. How I wish my battery had enough juice for me to do such things. I long to find a place where I can swim in comfort again. And you did it in private, with only eagles and loons to see. I wondered whether you needed bathing suits.

Annie said...

Hi all

Ruth told me later that our day on Gaspereau Lake was very unusual, it is hardly ever so calm! She recounted a horrific paddle against the wind on that lake, white caps and all.

Oh yes Barbara Anne, me too, LUV bean burritos!

20CW, I had worn my bathing suit under my clothes "just in case" and it was easier to just swim in it, but my friend did skinny dip. In retrospect I probably should have gone to the effort to take off the bathing suit, there certainly aren't a lot of occasions to skinny dip and it is such a lovely feeling to have the water against all of your skin!