Another species I love to observe in their Adirondack habitat…. the humans! Those of us who flee to these great north woods in the summer probably all agree on one thing: we like it cool, green and preferably on the water most days.
The agreement ends there, with the people who can’t live without the roar and stench of massive motors shaking their heads in amazement at the people who power their little barques with earth-friendly paddles. We all manage to get along, most of the time, because the Adirondacks have so many thousands of acres of lakes and streams that there’s plenty of room…. until the guy on the jetski almost runs over the small kayak at an oxbow turn on the Raquette, or the giantic floating patio parties also known as pontoon boats leave careless wakes like small tsunamis threatening to swamp every canoe in sight. Water-skis zip past with their own creative flourishes.
Some lakes, including Long Lake, also double as an airport runway for float planes, so on a bright summer afternoon the traffic can get pretty interesting.
Fly-fishing is a popular sport here (top photo, and below), one that has a certain karma that favors long quiet hours casting in relatively fast water.
Some hardier souls actually eshew all modern conveniences, even portaging their boats from one lake to another while camping out with minimal creature comforts.
On the other hand, there are those who, while seeking the peace and quiet of the deep forest, can’t survive without their daily dose of “The View” or Larry King, so while paddling along a shoreline admiring the tall pines I’m no longer surprised to see a satellite television dish nailed to the trunk of a tall tree.
Thinking of television makes me realize that the time has come to pack and start the journey back to Washington. For nearly two weeks I’ve lived without TV — and probably wouldn’t miss it if I went TV-free for another month. But there’s an election going on, a major economic crisis, a war, Olympics about to begin…. and if that’s not enough, Trinity beckons! School will be starting in just about another month (can you believe that?) and we have, yet again, a wonderful, talented and large freshman class to greet.
As I pack up and load the car, I already am thinking of the cool nights and foggy mornings, bright afternoons and long floats up the river, ambles along the bog and time spent just watching the ducks. Busy as I am all year, I always find time to remember moments like these from my summers in the Adirondacks. My wonderful friends, Jackie and Joe, whose cabin I rent each summer, asked me this morning if I’ll be back next year. “Of course!” was the only answer I could imagine — and I’m already thinking about my return trips to Round Lake and Bear Pond and Raquette Falls.
By next summer, those little ducks I’ve observed will be grown, and a new generation of osprey will be learning to fly. More old growth pines and fragile birches will fall under the weight of winter snows, and perhaps new slides will carve their ways down the mountains. In the towns, a few more businesses might close for good, particularly as the price of gas slows the local economy even more. More of the rising generations will move away to big cities, leaving the native Adirondackers to continue their debate on the wisdom of economic development versus environmental conservation. By the time I return to Long Lake a year hence, little will have changed, but all will be fresh and new again.