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Even what seems to be a routine outing often turns out to be out of the ordinary — if you pay attention to your surroundings. Every day there’s something subtly different, something new.
I’ve resumed a paddling routine of late, and while I’ve been to the same lake three times in a week’s span, I’ve been treated to different water conditions, wildlife, aquatic life, even emerging plant life. Wednesday evening, for example, I was serenaded by four different loons and at least one frog with a terrific bass voice that rattled the reeds.
On a paddle last week as I approached Moose Island, three monster-sized fish turned tail and rocketed away from the bow of my kayak startling me as much as I must have startled them. I was happy not to be swimming.
So far, though, I’ve not had a close-up eagle visit. Many times I’ve visited the lake and paddled within 50 yards of one sitting high on a tree branch. I’ll bet Mr. and Mrs. Eagle are tending to a nest up the lake. I’ve seen their home, high in a white pine on a tiny island.
Another regular I’ve missed to date is the kingfisher. They usually sit on a branch out over the water and wait until I’ve come to within 200 feet or so and then leap into the air and fly a couple hundred yards in their hurry-up-and-wait cadence to another branch. The scenario gets repeated until we run out of island shore, or they get bored and fly off for good.
Without the regulars Wednesday evening’s paddle was relatively quiet. An easterly breeze kept most of the flying pests at bay and kept the paddling fun. After a brief stop at the 2-mile point, I hopped back in the boat and began my return leg, oblivious to the plume of black-grey smoke arising from the western shore just north of Lucky’s Landing.
It wasn’t until I was a couple hundred yards from shore that I happened to look to the west. Wow! Smoke covered a mile of the Glenburn shore, and at the source was a camp or house. It was about a mile and a half away and quite a bit away from my intended return route, so I opted to continue on course. I thought about making a 9-1-1 call, but I caught sight of flashing lights, so I knew firefighters were on the scene.
Dollar Island interrupted the view for about 10 minutes, and when I again could see that part of the shore the fire was burning brighter, flames visible through the second-story windows. Then I wished I’d altered course — there’s something mesmeric about a fire.
But darkness was settling in, and I wasn’t going to add another 2 miles to my early season regimen. Turns out I didn’t need to. A gentleman rowing a shell-style boat had been across the lake to check things out. His son was renting a camp near the one on fire, he said. The fire appeared to be a “controlled” burn, he said, since there were a bunch of people sitting around on lawn chairs watching it.
A call the next day to Glenburn Fire Chief David Braley confirmed it. He said a camp owner who planned on rebuilding had volunteered the structure for the controlled burn exercise. Mystery solved.
Man-made or natural, there’s always a show going on. All you have to do is look for it.