I slipped my canoe into the water and followed a great blue heron around the pond. I had finished my dinner and walked down the road from camp to the water. It had been unrelentlessly hot for two weeks, which in Maine feels like eternity, and it was the first evening that was cool enough that I could do anything other than sit on the porch. Quimby Pond glowed with the evening light, a few dark silhouettes of the mountains around me were mirrored in the water, and I pushed the canoe in with a few ripples that set the heron flying. He was a big heron who stayed just in front of me as I paddled. He must have been fishing for his dinner– it had been too hot for me to fish until recently. I went to Little Falls and caught three nice brook trout the other night. Their colors this time of year are getting darker and darker making it look like someone took a bright red paintbrush and painted their fins, then dipped the edge of each one in a can of starch white paint.
I did not see the heron catch a fish, perhaps because I was distracting him, but the loons were diving exuberantly after fish. Loons will eat about 600 pounds of fish each year. On Quimby Pond we have a nesting pair of loons and a floating nest box for them. Last summer they laid two eggs, but unfortunately neither of the eggs hatched. A Maine State biologist told me that the eggs most likely had a disease that didn’t allow them to fully develop and hatch. This particular pair of loons was banned over ten years ago so that the state could track and study them. They come back to Quimby Pond every summer; the male usually comes back first, a few weeks before the female, to reclaim the pond as their territory. It hasn’t been proven, but it is commonly thought that loons ‘sing the landscape’. They have four distinct calls, and the “yodel call” varies from region to region changing with the landscape. Perhaps my loons were singing about the mountains this evening, or maybe they were just enjoying the way certain pitches and tones echoed off the mountains.
I pulled my canoe back onto shore and walked along the path to camp in the dark. I stopped and picked a few blueberries in the front yard and the loons called. There was a very slight breeze that smelled of woods and water and summer. I tipped my head back and threw the rest of the blueberries into my mouth smiling at the joys of summer in Maine.
A few other updates from Red Quill Camp:
I built a new woodshed!
A crew of my family members came up to see Red Quill for the first time!