Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Beasts Around Us

The trip to Vermont allowed a chance to visit new places, spend some time with friends and lay around enjoying Lake Dunmore.  This was Limo's first trip and although he has been to the beach in Florida he has not really floated around in a raft or on a boat like we did here.

It took me, practically dragging Limo on board the Zodiak for us to get a chance to go out on the lake.  It was a short run.  I am not sure that he is the water dog that his hosts are.  As soon as we got near land he made a mad dash for the dock.  Here he stayed most of the time when we came down to the lake.

One day I jumped into the lake and swam out to the anchored float From the swimming float I looked back towards the shore.  Here there were three or four docks in view.  What was surprising was that as beautiful a day as it was there was not another person around.  I felt strangely privileged to have all this  beautiful landscape and natural beauty and I was the only one around.  

Taking another look at the shore a  strange thought came to me.  I wondered who really owned all this wonderment.  The people may have paid for it or inherited but in fact it appeared as though the dogs were the owners of all the properties.  Laying down and swimming when they chose they were as much the owners as anyone. Certainly Lily and Sam were the masters of their kingdom. 

I managed to pose for an automatic picture with Limo in a rare moment of rest.  It came out surprisingly well, as you no doubt know dealing with a timer can be tricky no less balancing the camera on a towel due to forgetting my tripod.

The truth is that animals are always around us and we are often too busy with our own lives to take notice.  The problem is that unless they are our pets many tend to see them with certain apprehension or unfounded trust.  Both are problematic and allow little appreciation of the wildness around us.  These bard owls around the cabin hoot and hollered and I was certain that it was kids or even coyotes making all the racket.

These animal pictures have been sent to me over the year by a man that has really taken a cause for the animals around and in the lake.  Forever in the loop on sightings,  Mike Korkuc is really a great steward.   Above a whole skulk of Foxes in one of the neighboring cottages. 

Whether his or one of his neighbors, Mike takes pictures and sends them to a large group of people that he has slowly befriended in their travels to the lake.  Mike is a year-round resident at Lake Dunmore and he is the eyes and the ears for those that are not.  This picture arrived at some point of a black bear who needed a fix of bird seeds!  Mike writes for a weekly report on happenings up at Lake Dunmore and  Fern Lake  Association Blog  :  Check it out.

Mike is forever taking people out on his pontoon boat to see the loons.  His boat is actually called the "Loonatic".  I have been on it a few times and this year Mike took me and a visiting family from NY City to check out his favorite birds.

Taken earlier in the season by Mike, this loon parent has his sleeping baby chick on its back.  It does not get more tender.  What is also astonishing is that the loons who are a bit touchy about letting anyone around them have accepted the Loonatic as part of their family.  They must recognize Mike as he visits them daily.  No one else I know has gotten this close to them to take the quality pictures in his collection.

While I was visiting the lake the chick were almost to the adult level even though their plumes were not the crisp black and white featured on the adults.  Nevertheless, this image of the Loon family is another of the wonders of Lake Dunmore. My trip here had given a new appreciation as to how much wildlife existed all around me and how natural it felt to be in such a space.

As luck would have it I spent my last night at the lake with a Blue Moon.  The evening sky was like a painting.  As a young man, I felt something in me stirring during full moons.  Needless to say I probably felt something stirring in me all the time I was a young man. This night however was truly magical.  I no longer had the animal stirrings of a young man but I still did feel like some kind of reaction that was accentuated by the place and the magnificent moon. As the old man said to his excited dogs in Moonstruck:  Ah Guarda la bella luna!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back in Vermont

Last year with the sale of Collingswood and all the work to be done in Tarpon Springs there was no escape from the heat or reprieve for the emerald green of the New England.  This year after three weeks of travel I made a return to beautiful and civilized Vermont.  Were that their winters would be more civilized who knows where I would have wound up.  Fortunately, a return invite from dear friends allowed me a chance to feast on this lovely land.

Driving the countryside is a pleasure that can be taken for granted.  There is nature, nature and more nature, unadulterated without the crass commercialism of bill boards.  It is almost as if the beauty turns its back on you because it is so proud to be there as can be seen above with thousands of sunflowers paying homage to nature rather that posing for the photographer.

The signs that you see along the highway also pay homage to a way of life that seems absent in many places.  

Eventually you get to a corner where everyone claims directions to their summer camp and you know you almost made it.

In the process of getting there you will pass that old landmark car that has sat in the woods because it had some kind of value and as true Yankees you don't throw away anything that can be reused.  So much for thinking that Green is new.  

As you continue to your special destination you catch glimpses of places that people have called their home away from home for years.  There is a heritage of simple houses shrouded in the woods where people come to cool their heels in the warm hill lakes.

Such was my journey again and this time to a place with quite a history of its own.   I was to stay in  the "practice cottage" with Limo.  The "practice cottage" was where William Scheide and his Bach Aria Group rehearsed and entertained each other as early as 1946 before making their debut in 1948 in Carneige Hall.  This one room building with two screen walls facing the forest hosted quite an ensemble of the most prominent classic musicians of their day. Check them out.

The cottage, still in the family, now serves a more commonplace purpose of accommodating the extended family and friends.  A bathroom was added at some point and the cottage speaks of a wonderful time less complicated.  At night the only music I heard was that of Bard Owls hunting or mating all around me.  It was simply great staying there.

Of course, as much as my time in Vermont served to see my friends and hangout at the lake a trip or two were in order to see some of the magic that is everywhere at this time of the year. 

It is hard to drive anywhere, if you are me, and not stop to observe a stream, a tree, or an old farmstead that truly speaks of another way of life.  I keep harping to this other way of life that our commercial economy seems to depend on in order for this modern Democracy to function.  I wonder how is it that places like this have so much more with what appears to be so much less?

Church Street with the Unitarian Universalist Church at the helm

I drove to Burlington, Vermont an hours or so away from our camp to catch a glimpse of modern and big city life.  What I found in many ways was just as delicious as my old little corner in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Burlington was bustling with people and commerce in a scale very friendly to the natives. 

Limo was the focus of much attention as he made practical use of the fountain
Having lived in cities with five times the population of Vermont in my past, I now find life much more meaningful when the quality of everything around me is real rather than the quantity. 

The trip home from Burlington was just as eye popping when I made a stop at Shelburne Museum.  Unfortunately I could not get because of Limo.  It is a shame indeed because Electra Havermeyer Webb the collector was quite a dog lover. How could she not be with a name like that?  They open the museum a couple of days a year to visitors with pets.  In fact today is advertised as Shelburne Goes to the Dogs Day, too bad it did not coincide with my visit.  Maybe another year, I will manage to visit the great collection of Americana that includes everything from round barns to a paddle steamboat sitting on the grounds.

But I did get to see some of the most beautiful produce and farm stands anywhere.  There was so much produce available that homeowners often placed tomatoes in front of their house with a sign saying to take a couple. Unfortunately my camera died and I was not able to take a picture to show you.  I don't know about you, but I certainly have not seem too many signs like that around in other places.

At the end of this day what I wanted to do here was to have a glass of fresh juice and sit and enjoy the view.  Instead of sitting to relax, I had to get back to the camp and avoid rush hour traffic and help out as all guest should.  Although I am no longer in the working world, there are plenty that are and roads in Vermont are just as small as the state.  Rest would come for most of the time in Vermont.