Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It is raining as I start my portage, a mile east and 400 ft down. But, at the lake the sun comes out and the rain stops, the wind that I felt on my skin as I walked is gone and the day takes on a humid quality that takes me back to the place where I grew up. I pass the big lakefront houses with their always vacant docks and I think of the one that ran out into the lake in front of my grandmother's house. It was white painted and had to be taken down before winter and put back up when the ice went out. It is hard to remember not being in the water or on the dock or shore whenever I was there. It seems that me and my brother and my cousin were in the water during the summer from dawn to sunset. We got our money's worth.

I can still get into the beaver forest behind the big lodge, the extra snowpack of this winter helping the dam keepers to maintain high water. It is not fully green here, yet. That is a week or two ahead, a time when the marsh becomes so vivid in spring growth that the feeling of sitting in it can't be described, at least by me. Now, the yellow irises are out and the beaver forest has taken on a somewhat more civilized appearance.

As I sit, I start to see the stories. A feather in the water leads to the splashes of bird droppings below an old bent tree trunk. A hawk or owl has probably sat here. I notice that things are floating by in the water. There is a light current. This means that the beaver forest is doing one of its most important tasks. It is filtering water, which is one of the greatest benefits of beaver ponds. Whatever water comes this way leaves cleaner, the mesh of the marsh holding and breaking down most of what gets trapped.

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