I live on a small lake, and Sunday, amid an unexpected resurgence of summer, I took my lightweight kayak for a paddle around the lake’s perimeter. I was surprised to see how many trees along the shoreline were already displaying their fall colors. The sugar maples glowed with yellow and orange and dots of red, their robust hues shimmering in the water’s reflection. Black oaks were draped in burgundy. One black gum had completely surrendered to its autumn red and was already dropping its leaves.
We’re having what feels like an odd transition from summer to fall. The lake swimming season ended unusually early, as we experienced a cool, rainy couple of weeks. And now fall appears eager to take the stage away from the sumptuous summer green.
As is frequently the case when I paddle on the lake, I saw two Great Blue Herons take flight and several Green Herons along the water’s edge. I’m fairly certain it was a Double-crested Cormorant that abandoned its spot among a large group of Canada Geese as I paddled by. All sizes of turtles were enjoying the sun’s rays on downed logs, and I nearly paddled over what appeared to be a family of two larger turtles and two smaller turtles swimming in a line right at the water’s surface. I returned home to find my yard covered with deer grazing on the new grass that emerged after recent rains.
I have always reveled in the natural world around me, but working on The Last Resort has made me pay even keener attention. I learned a lot from Pud and the notations he made in his journal. There are still trees and birds that I can’t identify, as well as a frustratingly large number of wildflowers. But I realize how fortunate I am to live in an area where I can be in a stand of woods or on the water in minutes. I can take refuge in nature in the blink of a doe’s eye.
As we live among hurricanes and political tsunamis, it’s sometimes difficult to find simple ways to manage the erosion of peace and tranquility and civility in our world. I have one reliable way to cope. Like Pud, I just head outside.