Tonight I celebrated the summer solstice and the earliest portion of Father's Day with a midnight paddle. My wife was supposed to join me for a paddle a bit earlier, but she never returned from going to lay down with the kids to help them sleep. Ready for bed myself, I decided to take the opportunity for a quiet late night paddle on the longest day of the year. As I paddled, many thoughts went through my head & I want to record a few of those impressions before I head off to bed at last.
A launch under the glaring marina lights, I paddle through a crowded parking lot of boats to the sound of a wedding dance at the golf clubhouse.
Escaping the noise, lights and protection, I emerge onto a lake lit by a northern twilight glow.
Here and there, cabin lights dot the far shoreline.
There is a breeze creating a light chop which noisily slaps the near-empty hull of my heeled-over canoe. I head upwind, northwestward toward the sun that is journeying below the horizon.
As I round a point and paddle along the shore, I learn to listen for the sound of waves slapping rocks just above the surface.
I catch a fleeting glimpse of a light, a firefly perhaps. But I see only a flash and I decide it is likely only a light from a cabin shining briefly through the trees, or perhaps a reflection.
Having come as far as I wish, I stop to drift, listening to the sounds of the waves hitting shore.
Gazing skyward, I take in scene above. Away from the bright marina lights, the northern sky glows and there is plenty of light to paddle by, despite there being no moon. The stars are brilliant points of light, yet only the brightest are visible on this short night.
As I turn to face the east and my return, I notice flashes of lightning many miles in the distance, much too distant to be heard.
Paddling downwind the waves quieten and all sense of speed is lost as I pass farther from shore.
Close again to shore, I see short bursts of light flitting above the rocks. The fireflies are indeed out tonight and I consider myself lucky to see them. The cool brilliant light of the beetles is in sharp contrast to the far off flashes of lightning.
The steady call of frogs is prominent whenever the shoreline is sheltered from the now diminishing waves.
As I approach the marina, the obnoxiously bright lights begin to pierce the trees, finding & blinding me. To the sound of Jumping Jack Flash pumping from the banquet hall, I give the marina a pass.
The sound of reeds brushing the hull tells me I am in a shallow and protected bay. Briefly, I am aware of the strong smell of mint mixed with poplar.
A dark break in the shoreline of the bay suggests the mouth of a creek. I cannot breach the entrance, and the late hour forces me to return to the glare and noise of the marina.
With a canoe overhead, the squelch of a sandal in the mud reveals a puddle in the shadows.
The car lights illuminate three scattering killdeer chicks in the parking lot, explaining the distracting cries of the parents heard earlier.
Back in the dimly lit cabin, I am glad I was able to draw myself away from the enjoyable sounds of Saturday Night Blues on the am radio. It was a beautiful night to be on the water.