Saturday, July 14, 2007

A week at the lake

George and I got back this afternoon from a week in Northern New Hampshire. It is called a “fishing trip”, but we do a lot of other things and just a little fishing. First Connecticut Lake is one of a series of four lakes created by damming the headwaters of the Connecticut River. The lake is surrounded by mountains and woods and there is no industry and very few jobs. "Town" is 35 miles away. Because of the lagging economy, and probably the difficulty of owning a property where summer lasts only two months and winter lasts forever, almost every other property you see has a For Sale sign in the front. It is tempting. I have heard that you can buy a cabin on 5 acres for $25,000. Of course, in such a cabin, running water may be a problem, and frozen pipes are certainly going to be the norm. But, it is still tempting. The Northwoods of New Hampshire are truly beautiful.

We do a lot of wildlife viewing when we are there. Rather than spend the whole day down at the lake reading, or on our lawn playing games or cooking, we like to take long drives through the woods, discovering new places to fly fish and exploring out of the way logging roads leading to who knows what. We made a list of all the wildlife we saw on our wanderings: loons, deer, moose, a coyote skulking our neighboring cabin, mallard ducks with ducklings so small George said they were still “egg shaped”, yellow shafted flickers, a beautiful Merganser momma duck with 16 little ducklings rushing along after her, a lovely big brown rabbit who looked like he wanted to come home with us, and a wild turkey that barely missed a collision with our front bumper. We went out in the evening to look for moose and never came back without seeing at least one, and usually two or three. Moose are big and dumb looking, but they are elegant in their surroundings, and it is apparent immediately that you don’t want to run into one in your car. Driving slowly, we scan the woods and usually find them near muddy depressions along the road.

George fed a chipmunk who became a frequent visitor to our cabin, thanks to a whole can of expensive mixed nuts which George fed him one by one over the course of the week. Chipper would eat one or two, and then scamper off to his hole not far away to stash the others away in his storeroom. A charming red squirrel eventually found out about the bounty of nuts and came around to visit too. George also hung a suet feeder in the pine tree near our cabin so we could enjoy chickadees and woodpeckers who stopped by for the feast. Even crows came and jumped up from the ground to see if they could get to the greasy suet. In his own nice way, George made sure that we also had something interesting to watch from our cabin front porch.

Fishing news: Yvonne caught TWO beautiful lake salmon off the dock. At 7:00 pm, we would go to the dock with our bug spray and chairs, and fish for lake salmon or lake trout that come to the dock about that time. Connecticut Lake is deep and is not a place where it is easy to catch a fish. Catching two in one trip is a real accomplishment for me, a novice fisherperson at best. It was fun to bring them in, watch them fight and gently tug them into the net so we could release them unharmed if we wanted to. The first and bigger fish was a lovely fat salmon that we managed to get off the hook without harm and plunked him rather ungracefully back into the lake. The rock pier was too high to lay him in the water gently like you're supposed to. He was a little stunned at first, but eventually recovered and took off like a shot. The second fish I caught, a 17" lake salmon, was donated to our cabin neighbors who very badly wanted to have a fish dinner and hadn't caught anything. I was happy to share, since we had already had our dinner. Catching fish is so much fun. Every once in awhile during the week we would say to each other, “And we caught TWO fish!”

We both read three books and I knit a pair of yellow socks and we had a great week of fun and relaxation. The bugs weren't bad, and my mosquito repellent worked like a charm. The weather was dramatic: sun and clouds, thunder and lightning, then more sun. The stars were so bright on our last night that I had to wake George up to come and see them. The big dipper looked like it was hanging in the sky about thirty feet overhead. I have never seen stars that bright, ... and the wildlife!!

What a great vacation we had. Have a great day.