Yesterday when I got up and went out to fill my bird feeders I decided that it would be a good morning to kayak. So that is exactly what I did! It was a beautiful morning and I paddled for nearly 3 hours. Well, I was out on the water for 3 hours. I spent a lot of time taking pictures of all the sights and even a video of the sounds. End of summer is not the best time for birds as they have no reason to sing now that the breeding/nesting season is behind them but I did see some great birds including an osprey and a green heron.
I don't know how many of my readers are survivor fans, but I found myself on a very nostalgic trip as I left the boat ramp at Madison Lake. Much like the survivor walk at the end of a season where the 3 remaining survivors stop to say something about the competitors that had been voted out, I too re-visited some of the areas that stirred thoughts from the past. Madison Lake holds many memories for me. We were never allowed to go to the pool when I was growing up but at the end of a long day of baling hay it was not uncommon for Dad to load the 3 of us up into the car and drive over to Madison Lake for a swim. As a matter of fact, it was in Madison Lake that I learned to swim. Dad took me out near the ropes where the water was over my head and left me there and told me to swim. "Sink or Swim" comes to mind when I think of my first lesson. Needless to say, to this day I am not a very good swimmer and unless they recognize the dog-paddle as a stroke, I will never win Olympic gold. The beach this morning was empty and I thought back to how crowded it always seemed. I passed the inlet where the docks for the boat rentals were and I could still see the foundation where the small concession building once stood. After swimming, Dad would give us a quarter and Bob, Judy and I could each get a candy bar from the concession stand. Yes, we could get 3 candy bars for 25 cents! I always got the same thing, a frozen Zero bar. I still love Zero bars but they are sometimes hard to find. At one time Madison Lake had a campground and we would tent camp on weekends once in a while. Dad always loved the water so we would rent a row boat and row out into the lake and find a good spot to fish. Dad wasn't a great fisherman, but what ever we caught we always fried up for supper, usually bluegills. As I continued to paddle past the beach I went past a bench near the waters edge. This time the memory was a more recent one. During the last year that Mom and Dad were still living at home, I took on the task of watching Dad on Mondays so Mom could go to her Prayer Group at church. At first it seemed an inconvenience but as time went on I soon looked forward to Mondays and tried to plan out things that I thought he might still enjoy. His Alzheimer's was progressing but he could still communicate a little and although he was very confused most of the time you could tell if he was having a good time. One of the places we would go on nice days was Madison Lake. We were fishing from this bench when he caught, probably, the biggest fish of his life. Of course he couldn't remember how to reel in his line but between the two of us we managed to land a 14" rainbow trout. He was grinning from ear to ear. As I continued to paddle to the end of the lake I entered the source of the lake, Deer Creek. I paddled farther and farther and my goal was to try to get to the bridge at 142. Dad always wanted to go to that unseen spot around the next bend. I guess that is where I get that adventurous spirit. I mentioned before that Dad loved the water. At one time we owned a 5 hp boat motor that he kept in a 50 gallon drum in our basement. Mom hated everything about it. Now dad would take us to the much larger lake at Hoover Dam and cram the five of us into a small aluminum boat where we would spend the entire day exploring every inch of every cove on the lake. All the while Mom would be complaining about him going too fast, too far and too long!! I loved every minute. The faster the better as far as I was concerned. All mom knew was that she would easily get seasick and she hated having that smelly gasoline boat motor in her basement!
My dad would never win a "father of the year" award, far from it. But I have made peace with all of his short comings and focus on these experiences that appear to have shaped me more than I ever realized. I find myself feeling very thankful that he instilled in me this wonder of nature and a love of exploring the unknown. I pray I never lose his childlike enthusiasm for the outdoors.
|The fishing spot where Dad caught his last fish|
|A lazy leaf floating on the lake on this peaceful morning|
|One of two osprey that I saw, or the one osprey that I saw twice.|
|A female mallard|
|There were Great Blue Herons hiding everywhere. I probably only saw 1/10th of them.|
|Deer Creek at the north end of the lake|
|The bridge at Rt 665|
|The bike path, Rails to Trails|
|Despite the urge to continue, this is where I turned around|
|I spent 15 minutes photographing this feather. That's what you do when you are retired!!|
|A Green Heron|
|Once this inlet was filled with boat slips that held the rowboat rentals. Behind the large tree in the foreground is where the Concession stand stood.|
|New sign, same lake.|