A ghostly mist hung in the forest as I stepped outside into the cool, early hours of the day. Watched by a sleepy dog, I performed the morning ritual, grinding coffee beans and boiling water for that necessary start to my day. But this morning, there will be none of the usual mulling over a steaming cup of java on the cabin porch with the company of Evan and our furry friend. This morning, the water is calling.
And so, we walked down the hill to the car, dressed very similarly to how we woke up, French press and chocolate chip muffins in hand. We made the short commute through the ever-thickening fog to the lake that looked like it was entirely enveloped in a cloud, and we unloaded canoes in the peaceful silence of an early weekday morning in the middle of September.
In the water, we glided along, past the marina and all the fancy houseboats and speedboats and pontoon boats in all their motorized glory. Boats that were two or three times as large as the house we live in, and boasted satellite dishes and hot tubs and even elevators. But I was content to be in my small, self-powered vessel, silently cutting through the water, able to observe everything around me.
Finally, we were past the human-developed shoreline and into more scenic territory. We met up in the middle of the lake, surrounded by inlets and little hills covered in trees whose leaves had just barely started to turn. Putting the paddles down and letting ourselves drift for a while, we passed the ceramic coffee mug back and forth, admiring the light orange and yellow hues mixed with the remaining lush greens of summer.
Our original plan was to try to paddle to Trough Creek and back, but it quickly became clear that we wouldn’t make the 13-ish-mile round trip in time for work, so instead we turned the boats around and slowly meandered along the coastline. The craggy, reddish rocks of the shore dropped steeply into the lake, moss and scraggly pine trees growing out of the hard surface. The water was clear, and I could see the continuation of the small cliffs underwater below me.
We noticed a waterfowl also floating nearby, and, quietly paddling closer, determined that it was a loon. It repeatedly dove and resurfaced, moving farther and farther away from us. I was delighted at this sighting of one of my favorite birds, here early in the season from its breeding grounds up north. Both grinning, Evan and I whispered words of excitement to each other and watched the graceful animal until it finally disappeared into the mist.
By the time we returned to the cove where we had begun, the fog was beginning to lift, the sun was barely poking through, and the air was noticeably warmer. I was sweating slightly under my thin layer of fleece, and my wool hat had already been removed. We loaded boats back onto the car, and barely two hours after we had left the house, we were driving back up the hill, away from the lake, satisfied at a morning well-spent on the water.