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Barbara Parent

Parent: Changing seasons

The day begins here at Cross Lake with the sunrise. We can’t be sure of the exact moment the rays stream through the camp windows although coordination between sight and the sound of the crows cawing their morning wake-up probably coincides.

There are five adults and four kids with Ron and me in the main house. Jim, son Christopher’s good friend and colleague who stopped by on his way to hike Mt. Katahdin, bunks in the boathouse. Good friends, John and Beth Gardiner and their kids drove non-stop from South Jersey for a week’s vacation next door in the rented A-frame.

Jim was up and out in his kayak by 5 a.m. seeking out the Boreal Chicadee. Our camp is at the north end of Cross Lake and less than a quarter mile from two inlets, Daigle and Dickie, that hold hidden gems. Our daughter, Laura, came upon a cow drinking by the side of the brook during a recent morning paddle and has each morning since made a run hoping to get of the glimpse of the moose.

Jim, meanwhile, got to see and hear nearly 35 species of birds on his paddle but alas the Boreal Chicadee remains elusive. A beaver, however, got a bit miffed when Jim’s kayak got too close to his dam and using his flat tail, let Jim know it.

John Gardiner walks over to our camp around 7 with his Green Mountain brand mug in hand, a morning ritual as the coffee maker in the A-frame doesn’t keep the brewed coffee as hot as John would like. He and Ron take the Jeep Wrangler to nearby Frenchville to fill empty plastic milk bottles from the natural spring that provides us with water for the daily pots of coffee and dish washing.

The lake shore is ideal this morning, the sun warming the 50 degree air and one of the big rocks is an ideal spot to sit with my first cup of coffee. The mama duck and her six little ones swim by and I call out to that her babies are getting bigger every day. She pays me no heed but I figure it’s nothing personal. When we got here in early July, the family would walk up the stairs from shore and waddle around the yard as if they owned the place. They have since ceased that activity perhaps thinking we are not worth the bother.

Everyone has been at camp for five days already but the grandkids and I have yet to go on a Meme Walk. Little Johnny Gardiner asks, “What’s a Meme Walk?” I assure him he will know all about a Meme Walk as soon as the older kids get out of bed. It used to be, that the kids woke up before their parents, would fill their individual containers with Goldfish, Lucky Charms and Cheez-Its and we’d walk down the camp road. There were signposts - the hand painted ghost indicating the “Boo-chard” camp and the “Spider House,” so named because of the huge black-legged fake spider attached to the camp.

Things change from season to season and so too does the Meme Walk. Was it the onset of two teenagers and an 11 and 10 ½ year old whose parents are now up and moving hours before them? Or is it the independence the youngsters have acquired? They can take out their kayaks and paddle to Daigle or Dickey. They know how to bait a hook and fish off the dock without supervision. They make their own breakfasts and peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunches.

But this morning they are mine again. And so are, Little Johnny Gardiner and his sisters, Riley and Sicily who pack up their snacks and head out for their first Meme Walk with the seasoned veterans. Ah, but the Boo-chard camp and the Spider House have also been outgrown and so we take the old road to Square Lake, long closed to vehicles. The trail is flanked by dense woods and has big mounds of dirt that fall into puddles we jump over.

“Are there bears?” a small voice asks with some trepidation.

Oh, no, I assure Little Johnny Gardiner. All the while remembering I left the bear whistle hanging by the camp door.



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