Sunday, December 12, 2010

Echo Island or A Visit to Squire's Table

Echo Island, Lake Kabetogama
Voyageurs National Park

mallard feeding at shore

Echo Island is tucked just several hundred yards off shore in the southwestern corner of Lake Kabetogama. Facing away from the resorts and private camps that line the lake edge, the island sits like a shy child caught in the midst of a party—its tree-lined shoulder turned inward, protecting on the other side a small rocky bay.
Set ablaze by the late September sun, its evergreen shore warms to gold. The small island barely visible beyond misted morning water, by evening, has found itself in the spotlight.

Echo Island, afternoon sun

Taking a direct path from the sand beach just beyond our cabin’s doorstep across this narrow band of water, skirting the gilt edge of Echo Island, we found the rocky bay, entered and pulled the canoe up onto a sequestered 20-ft beach.

Butter and Eggs, Linaria vulgaris

Once privately owned, as was the case with many islands which over the years have become part of Voyageurs National Park, remnants of its previous life remain. From within a tumbled pile of what must have been, years ago, a meticulously built rock wall entry, a mink watches our slow progression onto land, and then disappears into the depths of the woods. There is a park campsite here, complete with one-seater and bear-locker, available to anyone at any time.

American Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

On this day we find it empty, inhabited only by a most irritated red squirrel whose duties of the collection and disposal of pine cones evidently our mere presence has interrupted.
In the change of ownership, this small resident has risen in stature.

Red Pine with lichen-covered bark

Dense and damp within, the woods of Echo Island, aside from birdsong, are silent. A heavy blanket of needles from towering red and white pine carpets the ground. Soft and fertile beneath it, a bed of dark organic matter has formed on top of the sandy base.

moss and lichen

Cushions of moss run over every rock and envelope every fallen form.
Into it reach the roots of delicate wildflowers.
Lichens cover bark and branch.

Pink Corydalis, Corydalis sempervirens

Nose to the ground in this well-appointed space, I can see Pixie Cups and Fairy Thimbles, Witches’ Beard above me, and British soldiers below--
named for the shapes they resemble, to be sure.

Pixie cups

And perhaps for the enchantment left by time spent in the places where one might find them.
For I thought I caught a glimpse of something magical there.

Harebell aka Fairy Thimbles, Campanula rotundifolia

Squire's Table

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Mary said...

All so nice and beautiful. Those Fairy Thimbles, framed, would be a gift to someone you love, Nina! The autumn sunset is stunning. Lovely post.


Susan said...

Beautiful observations and photos! The Blue bells look like tiny fairies!

cestoady said...

Thank you for taking us to Echo Island, the Squire's
domain and home of great charm and a magical world -- the stuff of fairy tales -- but only for those who can recognize it. Now we all can -- with your help.

KGMom said...

Lovely photos, Nina. And evocative of a warmer time in the year.
I especially love the Echo Island photo.
It's good to see the beauty of the world through your eye and camera lens.

Appalachian Lady said...

Echo island is a beautiful place--full of magical plants and creatures. It looks like a great place to visit (maybe not this time of year though).

The Early Birder said...

I enjoyed the peace and solitude of this magical location as you sought out the special inhabitants.

Gail said...

How absolutely delightful~Your prose and photos~gail

Bill S. said...

What wonderful pictures and post. I loved it.

KaHolly said...

Oh, Nina, what delightful and moving reflections of your visit to Echo Island. Thank you for sharing your gift.

Ethel Grace said...

OMG i love the pictures! They're awesome! It's really good btw.

Merry Christmas!

Visit Me:

RedWillow said...


Sam said...

What beautiful pictures!!