We have paddled up a small winding channel through a dark water lush wetland: lily pads with white and yellow water lilies, pickerel weed with its stalks of purple flowers, pitcher plants, sundews, steeple bush, Labrador tea, sphagnum moss, and tamarack trees. I have promised the campers a treat when we get to the end the creek. Eventually, after many twists and turns, they hear rushing water. Several anxious faces turn to me and ask if we will be canoeing through rapids. I tell them to paddle around the corners and see what’s up there. I wait at the bend to see everyone’s reaction to the sound of water rushing over rocks and encourage them to go see for themselves. Soon I hear shrieks of laughter and splashing water. I paddle around the last corner and up into the pool at the bottom of a small waterfall. All the boats are beached on a rock and the teenagers are playing and screaming like children in the cold tannin brown water pouring over the rocks and ledges of the falls. I too get out and plunge in. The water is frigid! It dark brown water flows through a shaded forest emptying out of a deep spring fed lake several miles upstream. We sit under the pounding water falling over the rocks, slide down the slippery ledges into the small pools, and lay on the sun warmed rocks in the hot sun shine. This spot is one of my favorite places and it makes me happy to be able to share it with others on a glorious summer day.
Gore Mountain looms high above me, a solid green black darkness in the western sky. The sun has just disappeared behind it, leaving golden sunbeams radiating through the pale yellow and pastel blue sky still bright from the sun’s light. High above that stark contrast of mountain and sky, strung out like gnarled hemp rope, are long and thick undulating clouds, bulbous and corded, shaded with every hue of blue possible between light blue grey and darkest indigo. I catch my breath at the brash beauty of nature and stop to watch the gold and blue sunset fade into purple darkness.
I wake to the startling sound of something crashing through the jumbled dead leaves and detritus on the forest floor, I open my sleepy eyes to early morning mist with water drooping from the trees. Groggily I think “that was something big”, so I sit up to see out into the blue morning dusk. Ten feet away is a mythical moose! This is the first time I have every seen a moose, so I have been calling them, mythical for many years. He is a young male with tiny antlers just appearing, thin, muscular, and all legs. He stands taller than me, but I believe he is small for a full grown moose. He is twitchy and nervous, he knows I am there, but isn’t sure what to make of me. I watch transfixed, mesmerized, excited, all sleep immediately gone from my fascinated brain. I watch him for many long minutes, hardly daring to breath. He eventually calms when no immediate danger presents itself, and he walk a little away, turns to look at me through the tent screen, takes a few more steps. He is silhouetted in a small clearing, his dark shape outlined by a brighter area of forest. After a few more steps, he has passed out of sight in the misty blue half light of predawn. I have seen a moose! Later when I actually get up, there are moose prints next to the tent platform where he was walking under the tarp when he startled and jumped into the dead leaves that woke me up. How many times has he passed this way before?
Back in my tent up in the Adirondacks (yes that is three mountain ranges in three days), sleeping fitfully, keep waking and thinking it is near dawn, first light, try to go back to sleep for an hour or so before I need to get up. This happened several times before my sleep deprived and groggy mind realized that I can not have woke up this many times in the early early glow of first light, it just doesn’t last that long. Oooohhhh, right, its the near full moon light filling the forest with that blue glow, a false dawn that confused my half asleep brain. I watch the trees in the silvery light for a few timeless minutes, then let go and finally fall asleep.