Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Good Day for Loons (and Staying Dry)

Well, yesterday was a good day for loons: dark and cold and rain, rain, rain. But not such a good day for photographing them, nor for any other adventures outdoors, for that matter. I was disappointed I could not show my visiting friends Tom and Dave more of the beautiful woods and waterways of Saratoga County, but no matter. It made for a good day to drive north fifty miles in a warm dry car to Olmstedville. Dave, an avid outdoorsman with a lively appreciation for first-rate gear, was intrigued by my light little Hornbeck canoe and wanted to see other models of Hornbecks and meet the man who makes them. Pete Hornbeck couldn't have been more hospitable, showing us every model he makes as well as how he makes them. He even invited us to join with him and his staff for some lunchtime pizza. Thanks for the generous offer, Pete, but I wanted to take my friends a bit farther north to Pyramid Lake, and we'd planned to stop off in Schroon Lake for lunch.

It was still pouring when we arrived at Pyramid Life Center, a classically Adirondack-style rustic retreat center in the middle of protected wilderness on the shores of Pyramid Lake -- which today was ours alone. This time of year all the cabins are closed for the winter, but we made our way to the sheltered porch of one, where we watched the rain move across the lake and the mist drift along the contours of the mountains.
While standing there in the rain-pattered silence, I heard a twig crack in the woods below. Looking down I was startled to meet the eyes of a doe and her nearly-grown fawn, looking at us as if to say, "What are you folks doing here in our woods on such a rainy day?" I wonder if deer know how safe they are at a place like Pyramid Life Center, even on the first day of rifle hunting season. At any rate, we were able to watch the pair ambling serenely around for quite some time. Then I tried to take a photo of them, and they promptly took off, white tails flagging. One other critter accommodated us, a solitary loon (the one in the grainy photo above) making a beeline across the rain-dimpled water. We watched it dive and surface, dive and surface, then disappear completely, while we stood there getting drenched. Time to head home.

Instead of heading back to the Interstate, we drove east to Ticonderoga and then south through the mountain-rimmed Lord Howe Valley to continue down the shore of Lake George, with a detour through historic Silver Bay. The scenic route.

Today, the guys went their separate ways, Tom to a professional meeting in Baltimore and Dave returning home to Michigan. It was so much fun for me to show them around the woods and the waters I love, and to renew a friendship from so many years ago. One thing that amazed me was how, despite all the years and the circumstances that have passed since our youth on that Michigan lake, these men remain essentially the same lovable guys I had fun with fifty years ago. I'm glad that they still get together each year to do outdoor adventuresome "guy stuff." And I'm really glad that, this year, they asked this other old friend along. Even if she is a girl.


Anonymous said...

Look like Pete just became a grandfather !

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Yes, Anonymous, Pete is indeed a grandfather, and how proud he must feel that his daughter named her new son Rushton, after the famous 19th-century designer of canoes. I'll bet Pete can't wait until his grandson is old enough to have a little Hornbeck canoe all his own.