We had gotten into camp the night before. Arriving late in the day, but assured plenty of time before sunset for both finding the Zilpo campground down its winding course past dimly marked turns, and erecting a modest setup of our site— a small nylon tent, two collapsible canvas chairs and a plastic cooler, which we stowed beneath the government-issue, half-ton picnic table.
Our site this time, our choice, #21—marked with a faded asterisk on an old map of years ago and saved from a previous visit, when we drove the camp loop one last time before check out, marking, as was our habit, “better” sites to remember in the future. This time, we had grabbed the only site within 25 feet of its own beach—preferred by many with children for its easy wading or flat, sandy play space--chosen by us for its smooth canoe access. Unloaded from the roof of the car, within just several steps, the red canoe slid effortlessly down the well-worn path to the lake edge. Bumping its way over the network of exposed roots of a row of sweetgum, that with each day’s walk began less and less to resemble snakes, it found its way to water, and was locked in place for the night.
Our beach and Red Canoe
The tent site was less cooperative. Constructed of very fine gravel, it had at one time been malleable. Years later, however, and compacted beneath camper’s vehicles and hundreds of feet, it had hardened into a close substitute for concrete. No rock, no hammer, no axe would convince the 8 feeble tent stakes to dig in nor hold tight. Thankfully, the beach provided the solution, in long, weathered logs, washed onto the shore and left scattered amongst the sweetgum stand. We dragged two uphill, and tethered the tent securely.
By the time darkness fell, we were resting around a small fire, sleeping bags in the tent, unrolled and ready—the light from the few struggling flames, all that was needed for the subject at hand—our plans for the next day’s paddle. And, although the forecast threatened to stall us with the afternoon summertime classic, “pop-up thunderstorms,” we decided we would make a go of it, throwing ponchos and extra plastic wraps into our bags, packed and set aside for the next day. We would watch the sky and play it smart. Many days are lost in waiting for rains that will never come.
A fishing boat on the water before dawn woke us, racing against the rising fog across the smooth lake to reach a quiet cove before the heavy, gray blanket could be lifted by the first morning light. Lingering long enough to savor the first minutes of this day’s waking in the woods, we hovered around the heavy, dew-kissed table, holding our breakfast, while a Wood Thrush sang from every corner of the campsite, choruses resounding of the deep woods, heavy air and daybreak. And wondered about the interesting collection left on one of the chairs by someone in the night.
Winning image for the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp competition!
The 2012 OWLStamp will be available for sale March 1, 2012 through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website and nature organizations across the state. Proceeds of the OWLStamp benefit wildlife conservation, research & education projects within the state of Ohio! I'm thrilled to have provided the winning image for such a wonderful program!
The Adventures of Red Canoe
Come along in Red Canoe as she explores the quiet backwater of Ohio's State Parks and the scenic streams and rivers of the Midwest. Discover the beauty hidden beyond the water's edge, quietly waiting, past access points, often only inches deep!
Grabbing every minute I can find to be outside--walking in it, sleeping in it ... breathing it in. The natural world has so much beauty to uncover.
It is my hope that by capturing my experiences with nature and by sharing the richness it adds to an ordinary life, others may discover the greatest gift waiting just outside their door.
A regularly appearing feature, "Have you seen..." takes a closer, more patient look at things usually not seen in a flattering light.Take a look!
The Sweetness of Spring
Each spring, as winter lessens its grip and days warm with the first fragrant breezes of a new season, we collect sap from our Sugar Maples and produce just enough syrup for ourselves for the coming year. The progress of this year's backyard endeavor is illustrated here.
A Bird's Life
Summer 2008, the tiny jewel of the avian world, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, nested just feet from my front door. Pictures of her nest and the changing lives within are collected in thisjournal.From life the size of a pea....