I passed the first chilly night snuggled on one of the twin beds in the main room, wrapped in a smoke-scented wool blanket, serenaded by the low, mournful call of the loons on the lake.
The aroma of coffee awakened me in the morning. I poured myself a Styrofoam cupful, and grabbed a chocolate-encrusted donut from a cellophane package on the counter. Ah, nature. I breakfasted on the porch with the hummingbirds, mentally preparing for my next adventure. Dave had promised we’d do something that day, so I needed to get washed and dressed. It was time to brave the lake.
Did I mention I don’t swim?
Dressed in our bathing suits and armed with environmentally friendly bath soap, we negotiated the rocky hillside down to a small inlet in the lake. We stacked our towels on a rock, and then Dave and Scott swam out to a boulder about fifty feet out. I would stay in the shallow end, thank you very much. I scooped up some water with a cup and poured it over my hair. Then I squeezed a dollop of soap onto my head and rubbed. As I attempted unsuccessfully to generate lather, I glanced down at my feet. To my horror, approximately one hundred and fifty thousand minnows swarmed around my ankles.
I screamed and splashed to shore, my hair still clumped up with non-sudsing soap. Dave shot back from the boulder in an instant and stood at my side.
I shuddered. “There are fish. In the lake.”
“Yeah.” He didn’t even try to hide his smirk. “We're supposed to go fishing in the lake, remember? Where did you think the fish would be?”
He and Scott exploded with laughter. You would think a ruckus like that would have roused at least one errant moose from its hiding place and out into the open to make this trip worthwhile. No such luck. I stomped up to the cabin and finished washing at the bathroom sink.
We walked down the steep, dirt road to the tiny, clapboard General Store that afternoon while my in-laws watched the hummingbirds. We needed bait for fishing, since I was still annoyingly insistent on doing something. I wasn’t likely to see any moose while fishing, but at least I wouldn’t be looking at hummingbirds.
The little shop was about the size of a convenience store, but not nearly as well-stocked. Some items were so crusted with dust that I’d swear they had been sitting there since Dave was a kid. We told the clerk what we needed, and he pointed us to the refrigerated case. We found the plastic tubs packed with dirt and laced with fat, pink worms, right next to the Snapple. We bought two (and some Snapple for the climb) and headed back to the cabin.
By the time we returned, we were sticky with sweat. Gliding across the cool water sounded like a good way to spend the afternoon. Dave mentioned a rumor about some twenty-four inch salmon in the lake. Maybe we could catch one or two for dinner. My mouth moistened at the thought of fresh-caught, wood-grilled salmon. The outdoors might have some perks after all.
I donned a life vest and we cast off, Dave, Scott and me. We didn't so much glide as churn across the lake, our motor spewing gasoline fumes in our wake. But when we dropped anchor, the calmness enveloped us.
We returned later that afternoon sunburned, bored, and fishless. Dave blamed our constant talking and bumping about the boat for our lack of a catch. Thinking back, it’s a good thing we didn’t catch anything. None of us would have known how to handle a flailing twenty-four inch salmon, anyway.
The next day, we opted for a hike around the lake. I had never been hiking, and am not a big fan of insects or dirt, but hiking seemed as good a way as any to run into the ever-evasive
moose. As we left the cabin, Dave plunked a worn baseball cap onto my head. Maine
“You’re going to want to wear that,” he said. “It’ll keep the ticks out of your hair.” I’m not sure if he had a genuine concern for my well-being or was just trying to creep me out, but I spent the entire hike scouring my clothing, hair, and surroundings for anything sporting more than four legs.
In three hours of hiking, we encountered not one moose.
On day three, we departed for another fishing excursion—on the other end of the lake this time, for a little variety—equipped with minnows we had caught with a wire trap hung off the side of the dock. We motored across the lake, and Dave dropped anchor in a shady inlet.
“Where are the minnows?” he asked, preparing his rod as if he did this all the time.
“Right here,” Scott said. He pulled the minnow trap up from the back of the boat. A mass of limp minnows clumped at one end of the trap.
“Tell me you didn’t drag it behind the boat,” Dave said.
Scott smirked. “Whoops.”
We emptied the dead minnows from the trap and returned to the dock. Dave replaced the trap in the water for another attempt later. When we checked that afternoon, it once again teamed with happy minnows. Dave dropped the trap back underwater, leaving the minnows to hang out until after dinner. When we returned that evening, Dave pulled up the minnow trap revealing six crayfish and a tangle of minnow skeletons.
I immediately headed back to the cabin. I’d seen enough carnage for one day. Tomorrow we needed to do something different. Like shop.