A doe nursed a tiny spotted fawn on the shore as we sat in the canoe silently, hardly daring to breathe, wondering how long the deer would endure our presence. How long did we sit there bobbing on the water while watching the deer? Five minutes? Six? Ten? Eventually the fawn finished feeding and went bounding through the shrubbery while the doe simply watched us, and then, having apparently decided that we posed no threat, she turned and walked calmly into the woods. The fawn took a few more playful leaps through the greenery before mother and child disappeared from view.
Moments like that are why we love canoeing. This morning didn't look like a good canoeing weather, with temperatures starting in the 50s, overcast skies, and a light but persistent breeze, but the gloomy outlook must have discouraged other boaters because we saw only one small fishing boat when we set out from the dock and not another boat or person as we paddled the full length of Lake Hope. At the upper end we snaked through pink water lilies and yellow lotus blossoms and shoved the canoe over mud flats to find the channel through reeds into a feeder creek, which we followed until we met a dead end at a very tightly constructed beaver dam.
We didn't see the beavers, but later we watched a muskrat washing its face, a great blue heron fishing, and hordes of tree swallows swooping over the water's surface to snatch insects. Once a slender dragonfly perched on the top of my husband's baseball cap, transforming it into a propeller-beanie.
Lake Hope is small and not at all spectacular, but it's a good easy starting point to our canoeing season. How can we have avoided canoeing up to today? Bad weather, too many weekend commitments, too much work--I can't remember the last time we took a whole day off together. I was a little worried that it would take a while to readjust after being away from the canoe since last fall, but the minute I felt the boat under me, muscle memory took over and I felt at home.
But not so much at home as the doe and fawn we watched on the lakeshore. I've never seen a fawn feeding in the wild before and I'll probably never see it again, but I wish I could thank them for letting us share their peaceful moment even for just a little while.