It was after eight this morning when I crawled out of bed, glanced out the window and saw the lake. I don’t know why I didn’t feel like crawling back into bed like I had for most of this week. The desire to close my eyes once again and greet the morning slowly is normal for me. Instead I felt the pull of the lake. It was calm and beautiful.
Just this week we took my kayak out of the shed, brought it down to the lake and placed it on a stand made from repurposed wooded tomato cages. These tomato cages, built by The Doc, were required for last year’s indeterminate tomatoes. This year we are returning to our favourite and preferred Scotian variety of tomatoes, which are manageable with standard wire cages. Turns out the wooden structures laid on their sides, with a couple of old deck boards added were perfect for setting two kayaks on.
I don’t remember what I originally planned to do this morning. It doesn’t really matter now because in an instant I decided to go for my first paddle of the season. I skipped breakfast and changed into a pair of cropped yoga pants and a three-quarter-sleeved t shirt. Then I tied my hair back, grabbed my phone and a hat, slipped on my water shoes and headed out the back door and across the yard. But not before spraying any uncovered skin with Deep Woods Off.
At the top of the garden path, I stopped to gaze at the view. The closer I got to the water the more beautiful it appeared. Living where I live is one of the biggest things I am grateful for. No one has to tell me how lucky I am. Believe me, I know. I have been here, back in my home province, for over twenty years and it never fails to both inspire and calm me.
Stopping at the shed, I grabbed my life jacket and paddle and returned to the path just in time to see a blue heron fly overhead. Sorry no photo. Once in the kayak, I pushed off and began paddle down the lake.
Fish were jumping everywhere. Gaspereau to be exact. They are a bony herring-like fish that come up the river and into the lake every spring. This year there are lots of them, which makes me happy because they remind me of my childhood when they were plenty, and because some years there have been hardly any. Nope no photo of jumping fish either.
Because the gaspereau are in the lake the cormorants are also in the lake and they swim and dive for food. This morning I saw several drifting on the surface of the lake. Again no photo. The sea gulls also like to hang around when the gaspereau are running. There is no photo of sea gulls either.
It didn’t take long before the black flies found me. I don’t know how the little buggers managed to discover that I was out in the middle of the lake but they did. My body heat was attractive and my sweet blood obviously smelled too good to resist. They traveled a good distance from shore to have a chance to taste such a treat.
This sweet blood thing is not an old wives’ tale. It is actually true. Once on a camping trip in Algonquin Park with The Doc and my step sons, non of whom are ever bothered by insects as much as I am, we attended a lecture where they began the talk with the following question: do you ever wonder why bugs seem to like some people better than others? That’s where I learned I had sweet blood. Who knew? I can guarantee it is the only thing about me that is sweet.
Although I had applied bug spray, the flies were determined. They buzzed at me from all sides and angles. The crawled under my hat. They absolutely loved my getting into my hair line. They took walking tours on my sleeves and sunglasses. They were so damn annoying.
I headed towards my favourite cove, but changed the plan and turned around hoping to find a breeze. I tried to visit the spot where I often see a turtle sunning on a rock but changed the plan again. I never thought I would ever think that the lake was too calm; but in black fly season, the wind is your best friend.
Because there wasn’t a breeze and I couldn’t out distance the black flies with my paddle, I headed back across the lake towards home. I did see a loon diving, a bald eagle take off from the shore line, and a family of ducks swimming in the shallows. Nope I don’t have photos of these either. There is no way I can paddle, shoo flies and take pictures at the same time.
It was not the best ever paddle. Nor was it the worst ever paddle. It was this year’s first paddle, and it left me anticipating the second one. Black fly season will be over in a couple of weeks.
Thank you for reading.
Photos: Jenn Stone