For the love of my lake.

4 06 2014

Have you ever been by a lake and wanted to simply just be by it? Be a part of it? Swim in it, gaze at it, dip your feet into it? Live your life by its simple beauty?

When I was a little girl, my family would sometimes venture from our lakeless home in the East Kootenays to travel north of Kaslo to camp at Schroeder Creek with my grandparents. I recall my nose pressed against the window of the back seat of the Plymouth Fury, goggling at the houses dotted along the North Shore of Nelson: Kim and I would marvel at the lucky unknown souls who got to live by this lake all the time.

We played in her water, found treasures on her shore. (I once found a chunk of weird looking wood that Grandpa said was petrified…. I lost that bit of wonder that weekend and still mourn the loss). We experienced the “black line” of a summer storm in my Grandpa’s boat, rushing back to camp after fishing, the last kilometer or two an exhilaration, wrapped in my life jacket, the bow slamming down after each breach of  the whitecaps of Kootenay Lake…. I would guard the precious cargo of Kokanee, some still gasping for air in the bucket, to my wondrous and morbid eyes; ready to have Grandma prepare for dinner. (I admit I hated eating fish back then, the invisible bones of the fish would fill me with fear, as I took tentative bites, nibbling miniscule morsels in fear of a bone lodging in my esophagus.) We swam and returned lobster-red back in the pre-sunscreen days to run wild among the campers. Rosie would hand out the dredges of her giant buckets of ice cream she sold from the store… I still remember my baby cousin Jami Rose crawling right into that bucket to lick the last bits of goodness, her diapered bottom and dirty feet the only thing we could see sticking out. Dusk on the shores meant fires and marshmallows and canvas-scented infused sleeps.

Who knew that I would one day call this lake home? I could only dream of that gift. But one day I got a call from my Dad telling me that they were moving to Nelson. “What the fuck” I thought to myself, years before WTF was the thing… but I still decided to tag along, thinking it would be temporary stepping stone to my next adventure.

And lo and behold, here I still am, some 23 years later. I still travel along the shores of my lake every day, I see her moods day in and day out. The glint of the winter sun casting steely grey flashes at me, ice gathering along the shore, the spring comes with the rise of the water, hiding my favourite marks along the lake (including a rock formation at Nasookin that I call “Sleeping Man”). The summer months invite me into her waters, cold and icy, refreshing and delicious. Deep dives off the boat, races off the beach with my besties, dangled feet off docks. Evening runs along her shores, rewarded with cooling skinny dips at my favourite rocky beach. Ospreys soar and dive, proving the superiority of their fishing prowess. Seeking high mountain outlooks through hikes and quad rides so we can marvel at the vastness of her size. The moods and ebbs and flows of this lake is much like a wanton woman. Passionate and fierce and full of desire.

I love this lake so much.

This lake holds my soul. She nurtures my heart within her blue depths. She is me, I am her.

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Tonight

3 05 2014

I stood by the open patio door tonight, the fresh air rushing past my face during a brief reprieve from this rain. Wine glass in hand, I watched the antics of my four male Rufous hummingbirds who returned today with a testosterone-fueled vengeance.

One by one, they took turns tussling over the best spot at the feeder which was only filled this morning after one male circled the empty birdseed feeder, giving me the side eye. I know they return to the same spot every year. I believe I know this little guy from last year. His brazen demeanor demanded I hastily fill the feeder, so I do so with glee. These birds are nature’s entertainment.

These four males dance around; with their dashing bronze backs and ruby throats flashing in the remnants of the day’s rays that are breaking through the bluish black clouds waiting to deliver more spring showers. Their eternal cynically suspicious expressions verify their intent. To guard the feeder from any others with furrowed brow and manly intent.

They fly up, so that they are a mere distant dot in the sky and dive-bomb whoever dares come near their nectar. Precarious and daring, they whizz by in alarming speeds, gifting me irrational fears of death by hummingbird impalement to the eyeball. The call is a “chu-chu-chu-chu”, fading as they rise up and away. Dusk brings the daredevils a ballsy attitude, not unlike a few beers shared among young men.

They buzz and whir, and fly off to lie in wait for an unsuspecting member of the gang to dare to drink. I can’t quite figure out the hierachy here. One of them is the biggest but at this point early in the season, I suspect it might not be indicative of the ultimate winner. Sometimes the smallest can be the feistiest.

The females are absent right now. I like to imagine them in tiny nests dabbled about in the trees by my house. These lesser-coloured but equally scrappy mama hummingbirds settled on eggs the size of a two-year-old’s thumbnail. I’ll see these mothers in a couple weeks, as they take turns guarding the feeder and their tiny babies.

I can sit for hours and watch. Birds have this hold on me. Their story is eeked out to me in the weeks to come, the warmer days, the long dusky summer nights. They will buzz and circle and demand more sugar water. They dance, tails pushed down, zee-ing back and forth in show. I’m nothing more than a post, an object or a threat, unless of course, the feeder is empty. They live their live in zest and fervour, passionate and whole-hearted.

To feed and love, and raise babies; they defend their right to dance and fight, these feathered miniature warriors.