I cling to summer with a fierce desperation. The days are long, but the season is short, and I am determined to wring all the sunshine and warmth out of it that I can.
Maine’s summer is a short burst of heat and warmth, if we are lucky. In the past ten years we had at least one summer that stands out in memory for being a long series of rainy days. This weekend – the first full weekend of summer 2016 – is a gift of blue skies and heat. I needed this. There are plenty of Mainers who find the heat and humidity miserable, and others still who are touched by winter-fever and forever dreaming of snow and cold. While I value each of Maine’s four seasons, I am eager to bake the last shadow of winter blues out of my bones and cell memory.
And so here I sit in my backyard, working hard at that very task as I write this post. (Note that prior to such baking I lathered myself in sunscreen. I’ve had lots of friends getting pieces of themselves cut off lately and I can’t say I recommend it.) My husband is tackling this same task from a prone position in his new hammock. Hooray for him – he deserves a rest too. We do not come naturally to the skill of relaxation and so I am grateful to see him in his hammock.
We do not sit still for long, though. We watch the wind and water for favorable boating conditions and off we go. Three summers ago we had about four boat rides total and learned that one can never be too aggressive about seizing the moment to jump in the boat for a brief ride. Our boat is a 1989 Four Winn Freedom that boasts a mighty 60 horsepower motor. (I see looks of envy spreading across the faces of bass fishermen everywhere. And if you don’t know why this is a joke then you have never taken the time to really look at a bass boat. Even for someone who knows and cares little about boats, I know that bass boats are big and shiny and can easily cost as much as we paid for our house.)
We acquired our red and white Four Winn using the freestyle summer shopping technique applied by all thrifty Mainers – we bought it off some guy’s front lawn. We remain thankful that the seller was not a crook – we paid a fair price for an old boat that runs quite well. Despite both major cosmetic and minor structural issues, the boat is a fine way to get around the lake and see what we can find for wildlife beyond our own inlet. While we would be better stewards of nature if we refused to own and use a gasoline-powered, noisy, polluting boat, I am not a saint or a martyr, so it is what it is.
Last night we came upon several loons with their chicks, giving them (and all loons on the lake) plenty of space so as not to bother them with our wake. The activity of boaters between Memorial Day and July 4th is especially difficult on loons, since this time of year is typically when they are nesting and teaching their young to swim and fish. The picture below is one that I took of a loon, not realizing that a great blue heron was standing on a fallen tree in the background. Half the fun of taking photos is seeing what turns up. I might take 200 photos and come up with two worth posting, but digital cameras make this sort of “wasteful” shooting possible.
Loons and boats are a terrible mix. Both state and federal law protects wildlife from harassment. Use your voice and your courage and your cellphone if you see boaters bothering our wildlife: call 287-8000 to report a violation to Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Today the lake is too windy for boating – or at least windier than I care to deal with. I paddled earlier, but not much. I’m nursing a foolish health snafu and trying to keep my shenanigans to a dull roar for the weekend. The water was dead calm yesterday morning and this morning but we have to walk our dogs before the day turns too hot and the deer flies turn to fierce, so these earliest hours of the day are not mine for the taking right now.