My go-to lakes

We’ve had an unprecedented stretch of blue-and-gold weather, perfect for getting outdoors, although the gardens are begging for rain. Or twice daily watering. Just so you know that I am not just running from lake to lake, counting them up (see my recent post A baptism), I did return to Webber Pond several more times, one time swimming with both a loon and bald eagle for company. The water is quickly warming up.

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It’s almost cheating to count the next two lakes, my go-to favorites. On Friday, I strapped the canoe securely atop my RAV4, ready for new waters. It was late afternoon Saturday, with the brutal heat easing, before I got up the energy to pack a picnic supper and head for McCurdy Pond. This beauty is a little over half a mile from my home. I took my time, poking into the little coves, on the way to my usual swimming spot.

Canada geese

The lighting suited my mood, as I reunited with the curving shoreline that I know so well. A cluster of sheep laurel, with a backdrop of birch, drew me like a magnet. This member of the heath family is one of the showiest flowers found in our wetlands. The peaceful glow of soul and evening stayed with me through a leisurely swim and supper, for once just sitting and being.

Sheep laurel

Of course, I do not always go solo. In fact, for the past week, I have been surrounded with loving concern and care from the best of friends and family. I was supposed to have been on a much-anticipated visit to Pennsylvania and Virginia, until the shingles in my right eye flared up at a most inopportune moment. So, instead, I have been comforted here at home, most notably with a series of delicious meals.

I suppose I am now truly guilty of hopping from place to place. Yesterday after church found me with friends Bill, Mary, and Mary, paddling Biscay and Pemaquid ponds, which are connected by a tiny stretch of the Pemaquid River. In these COVID times, all of these waters seem busier than I ever remember them in June, and there were many fellow boaters to greet along the way.

Group gathering

Mary and Mary

After saying our good-byes, I swam from a tiny island in Biscay, which makes Lake #3 in my 2020 swimming quest. With the warmer water and some conditioning, I’m up to twenty minutes now. This lake is my oldest favorite, as evidenced by the photos below. Taken around a quarter of a century ago, they bring back a time of wonder, of discovering Maine through the eyes of my children, long before we lived here.

Biscay collage

 

 

A baptism

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It was high time for the first swim of the year, I decided, surprised at the strength of the sun on my back.  I lugged the canoe to the water’s edge, arranged my gear ready to go, then drove home to exchange my long pants and long sleeves for a bathing suit and shorts. Today is June 12th, five days later than last summer’s baptism, when I jumped into the chilly waters of Moose Pond during our beloved Maine Canoe Symposium.

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By eleven, I was pushing into the breeze, the warm air rushing over my bare skin and setting the lily pads dancing. Brilliant blue damsel flies and dark dragonflies skimmed the shallows hazy with pollen. There was the beaver lodge that I hadn’t seen in a year, and a blue flag iris, just one splotch of purple along a shady stretch of shore.

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This may only be the second time that I’ve gone in the water at Webber Pond, but I found a spot I liked. No beach here, but rather a wide, steep rocky slope, on the hidden side of an island. I clung to the rough surface, then carefully slid into the deep water. I swam the breast stroke, feeling the old familiar rhythm and the comforting warmth of the thin surface layer. After ten minutes, I climbed out, enough for the first day in the first lake.

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Last year, I decided to keep a count of the lakes where I swam and ended up with ten: Moose Pond, Damariscotta Lake, Biscay Pond, Scraggly Lake, McCurdy Pond, Lobster Lake, Lower Shin Pond, Hay Lake, Nahmakanta Lake, and Pleasant Pond. Of course, I swam in Biscay and McCurdy dozens of times. Think I can beat ten this year?