I was feeling scared (and sorry for myself) and decided it was time to tell my friends about being diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course in this day and age, Facebook is the easiest way to let everybody you know in on your life events, (big and small). I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and positive thoughts that friends new and old sent me. I felt empowered to face this crisis with strength and courage. A little bit healing love goes a long way. Thank you!
The last night of our kayak camping trip got rained out, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t sick on top of it. We have camped in the rain many times before. The other odd complication was the lean-to we were using was scheduled for demolition so we had to pack up and move camp anyway. My friend called a friend, and we stayed there the last night. The house was on the shore of First Lake in Old Forge, very nice. We had a huge delicious dinner and were playing a bean bag toss game outside by the lake when the sky opened up and poured freezing cold rain so hard it put out the bone-fire! After being chased inside, we decided to cut open a watermelon my friend had brought. Still crisp and bright green on the outside, dark red, and gushing juice on the inside. Sweet, sweet watermelon, you are another fruit I miss in the long dark cold winter months. But right now, right here, I slurp this tantalizing melon, cherishing its flavor for maximum enjoyment.
The day started off rough. I am coming down with a cold, all the usual symptoms. Last night, after paddling over to the island in the middle of Raquette Lake, and then setting up camp in the dark (night comes earlier now and I ran out of daylight), I had a hard time getting the fire started, everything is damp from all the rain, and it was very smokey. But I know (unfortunately) my sore throat isn’t from that. Although it wasn’t very cold last night, I kept the fire going to comfort me and maybe dry out the fire pit and surrounding area, so I am very tired as well. My friend will be here later today, so I took my time in making and eating breakfast hoping that lots of good food would make me feel better. I am drinking lots of hot tea as well which feels good in my throat. The water comes from the lake, and I bring it to a rolling boil before using it. I had just turned the flame off on the stove and picked up the still boiling pot when some of the water sloshed out and fell on the top of my foot causing a second degree burn. UGH! By the time my friend showed up all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and sleep for several days.
But this is the only time we have together, so with some encouragement on her part and some resisting on mine, we decided to paddle up Brown’s Tract. I haven’t been up it yet and although she had found the entrance last year, a beaver dam kept her from exploring the creek. Of course, it was enchantingly beautiful and exquisitely peaceful. The water in the creek was is brown with tannin, but clear and cold, so I was able to, several times, keep my still painful burn blisters submerged until my foot grew quite cold. The sky was low and heavy with turbulent grey rain clouds which rained off and on, the rain itself being gentle and hesitant. The weather kept most others off the lake and we had Brown’s Tract wetland to ourselves. We paddle quietly up the twist and turns, taking pictures of the last wetland flowers and the first bright red colors of the season all to ourselves. We saw several birds trying not to disturb them as we silently glide by. A few hours later, after crossing several beaver dams and having come up to another we decided to turn around and head back. Evening is coming and it looks like more rain. I definitely will come back and explore this place some more. It is worth the visit!
If I could , I would follow summer around the globe, back and forth across the hemispheres. But for now, I am here in the mountains of up state NY, where seasons change. This makes summer even more precious because it is a fleeting phenomena, something to be cherished while it lasts and remembered warmly when cold winter sleet blows against the window panes. It has been a cool and wet summer this year, but now finally what I call Endless Summer is upon us. This is a space of time when the evenings are long and warm, true darkness takes a long time to cover the sky. Then true darkness is vanquished when the big silver summer moon rises chasing shadows into the short summer nights. The breeze that blows after the sun sets is warm, it whispers sweet nothings in your ears, and makes your skin tingle with the magic that only a warm summer night can hold. I call this time endless simply because I do not want it to end. These are the soft summer nights when you can drive around with the windows down, your arm riding the wind current, and not get a chill. These are the soft summer nights that entice you to go night swimming, the water a liquid velvet bath, the air a warm caress to dry you off. There is no freezing cold shivers on these soft endless summer nights. Endless summer is spent in the company of friends with campfires, good food, live music, silly games, stories, and laughter. Endless summer is when the warm night air mingles with the warmth of the fire and our friendships. It rises up to the stars and spreads out into infinity.
We have been canoeing all day, canoes of teenagers strung out a mile across the lakes we are crossing. I am in the lead canoe with another guide. This is her first canoe camping trip and she is loving it! We paddle and talk then stop and wait for the last canoe (with the counselors in it) to catch up. We had lunch at the Marion River carry/portage and are now paddling down the twisting channel through the wetland that will eventually lead to Raquette Lake. All day the sun has been shining, big fluffy white clouds have been drifting by, and a gentle breeze has blowing. It is late afternoon, we are heading in a generally western direction as the sun hangs low in the western sky but still several hours away from setting. Yellow sunbeams spill out from behind the billowing white, blue, and grey shadowed clouds. The bright slanted sunlight scatters off the water and glints in my eyes. I am momentarily blinded as my eyes water. A cool breezes skitters across the water rippling it and sending a passing chill across my arms. I am at peace here, suspended between water and sky, floating among the waves and clouds, buoyant soul song, soaring dreams, thoughts drifting lazily in gentle currents. Life is good!
My Colorado friend and I are in my regular tent I usually stay in up in the Adirondacks. We are running the Hudson tomorrow and then I will drop her off at the airport to go home. She asked me what could be walking around in the woods outside the tent. I hear it too, I hear it often enough when falling off to sleep. I tell her I believe its probably deer or raccoons or some other night time creature, nothing to get worked up about. Out of curiosity we shine a flashlight out the window to catch the deer in action. Surprise! That thing walking around out there is the moose! It has been out there all summer! He is caught by surprise by the light and just stands looking at the tent about 20 feet away. The flashlight is not a particularly strong or bright one, so we can just make out his shape and form in the darkness. Of course his eye shine is too high off the ground to be anything but a moose. We all stare at each other for many long minutes. He finally decides we are inconsequential and moves on, making noise as he calmly walks through the leaf litter on the forest floor and foraging his way out of sight and hearing. WOW!!
Bright warm sun light pouring from a cloudless immense clear blue sky, gleaming blindingly off the inviting cool calm water of the lake. We are all in the water (kids and adults), swimming, paddling kayaks, playing on the blow up pool toys and inner-tubes, diving, splashing, floating, laughing, enjoying being together. We paddle out to some rocks and bask in the sunshine (while the kids continue their swimming adventure), laying on the sun warmed surface, soaking in the heat, letting our skin dry in the warm air, the smell of water and earth, the feel of sunlight and gentle breezes, talking, laughing, and enjoying time to relax and reunite. This is exactly what I had wanted when I suggested this reunion plan last year. The perfect lake day materialized and life is good!