I had finished washing the outside windows, getting the layers of grime and haze from their surface. Hoping like hell, now that it was October, we won’t get a hurricane. I walked in the front door carrying a dish full of nasturtium seeds to dry for next year. The plan was to dump the seeds then clean the windows on the inside to remove the film built up over the past year. Then I saw the lake. Its surface still like glass even though it was now afternoon. That’s when the plan fell apart.
I changed and stepped out to flag down The Doc, who was mowing the lawn, to tell him that I was going for a paddle. He does not have my passion for kayaking so only comes out with me on rare occasions. I often paddle with my friend Sue in the mornings but I also enjoy going alone.
There is something about paddling in October that I love. The summer is over, kids are back to school and many of the larger boats and jet skis are no longer on the water. The leaves on this day are only beginning to turn but I will get to watch their progress as I glide across the surface of the lake as much as I can this month.
Once on the water, I head down the shore to the end of the lake then turn towards my favourite place to paddle, the natural undeveloped coves across the lake from where I live. I have written about this area before and hope that with all the new houses going in around the end of the lake that these coves will be spared.
The first thing I notice when paddling alone this time of year is that it is quieter and my ears tune into the sound of the breeze in the leaves and the sound of a brook emptying into the lake. The two sound so similar that you really have to listen to tell them apart.
I head into a narrow channel at the end of the cove. It is shallow and often weedy although the weeds are now wilting and once again falling below the surface. The stiff grasses make a squeaking sound when the kayak cuts through them. The lily pads whisper when it skates over their surface. Birds call out and flutter through branches. There are flattened paths, breaking through the shrubs at the water’s edge, where animals come to drink when we humans aren’t invading their space
Many shrubs here are covered with red berries. These same shrubs were in full bloom when I came to this channel with JT early in the summer. I enjoy observing these changes as they take place over my paddling season.
The second channel is wider. Neither of them allow you to paddle very far, only about 250 meters, because of downed trees and other obstacles; but they are beautiful and worth venturing into so I venture in often.
After the channels, I paddle close to shore checking where I sometimes see a turtle and where The Doc and I spied an otter our last time out.
I go around the point to the second cove and enter slowly, quietly, but still disrupt a single duck that takes off over the lake, the turquoise bands on its wings glint in the sunlight. I wasn’t fast enough to take a photo.
Here I check the beaver dam. This particular dam is built around a large rock. The inhabitants have been busy as there are new branches with leaves still attached added to the structure. One particular branch extends out in front with eye-catching red maple leaves shimmering just under the water.
I saw the beaver once, on an evening paddle. He was coming in my direction ignorant of my presence. Then he noticed me and with a crash of his big tail he was gone. I keep hoping I will see him again one day, but he is likely sleeping when I do most of my paddling. He has come to my place and stolen, in the cover of darkness, a couple branches of my flamingo willow. The little bugger.
Continuing, I paddle around another point and enter the third cove where pointed rocks jut out of the water. One holds a garden of asters planted by Mother Nature.
From here I travel a little further out from shore until I get where the breeze, which has begun to blow down the lake, is face on, exactly where I want it for my trip home. I dig my paddle in, twisting at the waist and creating momentum as I stroke. Then my kayak crosses the lake, cuts through the wind and waves and takes me to the little beach that is my home. I hesitate for a second after carrying my kayak from the water’s edge. I know I will be out there again very soon.
Thank you for reading.
Photos: Jenn Stone