Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lily paddling

The canoe has waited patiently for an outing like this.
Propped against the side of our old shed and peeking out from between raspberries and newly sprouted walnut trees, she lies marooned on land. Heavy spring rains and a busy calendar have kept us close to home, walking our own trails and watching the waters safely from shore, in anticipation of a day when we could take her for a ride—the bright red canoe borne on the shoulders of the little black car.

Yesterday, we drove east, until cornfields disappeared and every second truck we passed was laden with logs. Then, quietly we slipped her into the cool waters of Lake Hope and let her run free.

Even from across the widest part of this 120-acre lake in Zaleski State Forest, the pink water lilies can be seen on the other side—bright dots against dark water.

We paddle slowly, close to the shore. The day is warm and the cool air tumbling down from within the woods smells of pine.

Beaver live here.
And although they stay hidden, fresh gnawing on the large trees shows their activity. We pass a lodge of their clean sun-bleached sticks, but see none.

A Great Blue Heron stands motionless within the grassy edge, blending with ease, his slender silver form like that of weathered wood—and flies out to hunt further down as we approach.

We have reached the shallows, where lilies spread from shore to shore and the canoe glides easily through, just skimming the bottom.

An Eastern Kingbird is feeding back here, snatching dinner from just above the surface before resting again in dead brush.

And a family of tree swallows seems to be nesting in a box intended for ducks. They dive into the water with a splash and fly off with a juicy morsel--dinnertime entertainment as we picnic, resting in the shady woods.

On the drive home, red canoe back on top of little black car, we turned and made a second pass back to see an unusual large, brown, lifeless lump on the shoulder of the road.
While logging trucks flew past in both directions, we stood and looked at her.
She had the most luxurious coat I’ve ever seen, and a broad, flat tail.

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Mungo said...

Hello there,
I really enjoy reading your blog - I subscribe to it via Google Reader. But because you only show partial posts in Google Reader, I will often skip over it. Ironically, I am more inclined to visit sites that I can get a full post in my reader - I then click through to the site itself. Just something to think about - hope it is constructive feedback for you...



nina said...

Thanks, Mungo.
I guess this may be selfishly motivated, but, although I spend time in Nature for the enjoyment it gives me, I blog for the interaction it encourages.
By only posting a partial entry, I'm hoping to lead someone here who may leave a remark or share a thought. A lively comment field can be even better than a good post!
I'm glad you use Google Reader--so do I.
But having readers who take the time to add a note is my reward.

Mungo said...

I know what you mean - believe me I like folks to actually visit my blog. But based on some actual studies I've performed with my own blog, and with several friends' blogs - what I'm actually saying is that (and it may seem counterintuitive) you will actually get more folks visiting your site if you put the full post in RSS.

Put it this way - I like to experience the whole post within the site itself, it isn't the same in the reader alone. So to that point, I am intrigued when I started reading a good post and click through to the site. When I am not intrigued (because there are only a couple of lines i.e. truncation) - I simply won't bother visiting the site.

Try it for a week maybe and see if it doesn't make a difference...

Really! Trust me! I'm a doctor!



Kerri said...

Nina, an absolutely wonderful post!
Your writing and your pictures are soothing to the soul!

NCmountainwoman said...

What a shame about the dead beaver. It's always painful to see animals of any kind killed on the road (and by a logging truck no less).

What a lovely day on the lake. The pictures make it seem so calm and peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

photowannabe said...

Nina, you have an artist's way with words as well as your pictures. I thouroghly enjoyed the adventures of the little red canoe and was so saddened by your ending discovery.
Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comments. Come again anytime.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

I'm headed for bed soon and hope to dream of gliding through the water lilies on that beautiful lake.

I'm so sorry about the beaver.

Ruth said...

The lake looks like a dream and your descriptions are idyllic. We have many beaver around here even though they are sometimes hard to find. I have seen them from 2 feet away on the shore. So many animals die on our roadways.

Susan Gets Native said...

A beautiful post with a sad shadow. Poor beaver. Damn cars and trucks. You know that we estimate that 80% of the birds we get in have been hit by cars?


NW Nature Nut said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I check your's regularly and find it to be so unique and inspiring. You have a speical talent for revealing nature, much like some have a talent for telling jokes. It's always a pleasure to read your posts and view your photos. The water lilies are fantastic. Are they native to your area? Just lovely!!

Gary said...

Nina, your writing is superb and your photgraphs are stunning. The two combined always make for a real journey of discovery through your blog.

(If I knew how to give a blogging award, I would!)
Beautiful, but with a sad twist.

Bodge's Bulletin.

Iwanttocomeback asmycat said...

Nina, I read blogs because I am in school and living in a teenie apartment, no grass, no flowers. I need nature in my life, and I live vicariously through others for this short time. Your blog has helped me to find peace in this concrete world. You are a fine photographer and writer. Thank you very much.

June said...

I enjoyed these words and pictures...I felt like I was right there with you.

Thanks for visiting Spatter...

nina said...

Yes, nw Nature nut, those are native here--aren't they spectacular?! Like the icing on cake!
I debated about whether to include the roadside story involving the beaver. I know it spoils the serenity of a canoe ride in such a lovely place. But, I'll remember finding her there probably for longer than I'll recall the details of the ride. So startling in the midst of such beauty. But I guess with the large amount of logging taking place in that area, finding a beaver would not be out of the question!

Iwanttocomeback asmycat--This too shall pass. Until then, I'm thrilled that I can share what I'm able to see with those who are not. Until then, make the most of your city life--there may be a time when you'll no longer have access to what it offers.
My daughters both live in urban areas, small apts, barely a's where they need to be for this phase of their lives.

zhakee said...

Your outing on that pond must have been wonderful. The sight of all those blooming water lilies must have been a feast for the eyes. I love the way you described you little black car with red canoe on top. It's funny the way words can paint pictures so vividly, even more vivid than a photo, at times.

Crayons said...

Hi Nina,
Yet another piece of beautiful writing matched with exquisite photos. I especially like the long shots of the water. You must have a nice camera to get such detail and color.

Your use of the present tense here really lends to the air of awe.

Thanks for taking me along.

Eco Enthusiast said...

I love the way you described your canoe trip--from the lonely canoe to back in its home site. The photos are wonderful--especially of the pond lilies. Joan

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful lake. I would love to canoe there! So sad about the beaver...

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a wonderful canoe trip. Those lilies are just gorgeous. I hate that the day was marred by the death of such a beautiful creature. So goes the ups and downs of life.

Marvin said...

It sounds as if y'all had an outing on the little lake that was both peaceful and stimulating. The water lilies are beautiful. Tis sad about the beaver, a useless death.

(BTW: I know I'm a member of a small and dwindling minority, but as a rural dial up user, having to load your entire blog post at once is often a problem. I very seldom use Google Reader as a substitute for blog visits because (as you know) I cannot see or make comments. Instead, I use GR as a tool for pre-loading post images and, thereby, facilitating blog visits.)

Old Wom Tigley said...

I nearly missed this post.. boy I'm I glad I didn't.. Excellent post.

auringonkukka said...

beautiful lake!!
and beautiful photos!

Anonymous said...

Lake Hope is our favorite happy place. Every summer it welcomes our kayaks and sends the hummingbirds to amuse us. Great blog!