The Doc and I live on the Mineville end of Lake Echo in Nova Scotia. I actually grew up on the other end although we didn’t live in a house on the water. When The Doc and I decided to move back to Nova Scotia from Ontario over twenty years ago, (well back for me–The Doc is from Ontario) I had no idea that I would end up on the same lake that was across the road from my childhood home. It really was the last place I thought of moving to. I actually didn’t go into or on the lake very much when I was younger. I can’t swim and an almost drowning event when I was very young kept me away from the water except for a couple of years in my teens when my friend Deb and I putted around the lake on rubber mattresses.
Now this lake is so much a part of me that I can’t imagine not living on its shores. I love Lake Echo. I love to slide my kayak into the water and explore the coves at my end of the lake. The other end of the lake has been developed for many, many years; but this end has beautiful quiet places where I have been lucky enough to see beaver, eagles, loons, cormorants, blue herons, assorted ducks, seagulls, mink, muskrats and a turtle.
The Doc and I set off on Saturday morning because I wanted to test out my brand new paddle with a fiberglass shaft, which by the way was wonderful. The Doc was trying out my (actually JT’s) old kayak because it is easier to paddle than the one he has been using. We headed around the end and into the first cove. This cove is my favourite place to kayak. It is usually very quiet and at times full of lilies and other blooms. Today there were only a few lilies left but the shores were filled with asters, season-end wild roses and other wildflowers. The water level is still is low so here we can see bottom only a few inches below us. In some places it is thick with weeds, others places are rock filled. There are a couple of channels at the end of this cove that we have ventured into in the past but not today due to the low water level.
Turning around, we drifted towards the right where there is another inlet and were rewarded by seeing the turtle that I had seen earlier in the week. He was sunning himself on a rock but slipped into the water when he became aware of our presence. We really did think we were quiet but apparently not quiet enough.
We then looped around a small point to enter the second cove. This cove is rocky with deeper holes between shallow spots and boulders that break the surface or just hide underneath it. It is careful going in this area of the lake. This cove is home to a huge beaver dam that seems to have more timber added to it weekly. I can only imagine the numerical size of the beaver family that lives inside.
In 2008, there was a forest fire on the shores of this side of the lake and dead trees still stand as a reminder. Back then, we had to evacuate taking only a few valuables. Luckily only a couple of houses were lost. This very spring there was another fire not far from these shores that kept us on high alert and reminded us of the earlier event. During this summer we went weeks without any precipitation and while everyone was raving about the beautiful weather, we were quietly hoping for rain.
Leaving this cove, we decided to cross the lake and head home because that hard seat under The Doc, one of the reasons I wanted a new kayak to begin with, was making his old butt ache. That is why I used an inflatable cushion under my old butt when I paddled that kayak. So home we went, happy to have spent another beautiful morning gliding on and exploring the lake. I plan to go again tomorrow.
We are lucky that our end of Lake Echo stayed so pristine for as long as it did. But things are changing. In the last couple of years, large houses have been built at the end of the lake and now a large lot is being cleared just outside my favourite cove. There isn’t a house there yet but already there is a huge dock, several chairs, what looks like a Zodiac or some other large boat and a couple of jet skis. These days, on weekends, the drivers of these jet skis like to go full speed in circles at our quiet end of the lake. These people have no attachment to this lake. All they want is a playground, These days I worry about the beaver, the herons, the loons and all of the other creatures because I know that someday they will no longer be able call this lake home and that makes me very sad. I know that I will miss them immensely.
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Photos: Jenn Stone