The last week of camp this year reminds me a bit of returning from Camp Seneca as a teenager. The camp experience for me was not only an outdoor awakening but a coming of age. Amazing how youth blossoms in the right environment. This year’s camp closing was a bookend of sorts, some 65 years later. My high school friends, Arnie, Bob, and Harv all came up with their delightful wives for a few days of hiking, fishing and reminiscing. I had arrived the day earlier and used the opportunity to spend the day on Spednik Lake for my usual end-of-year bass outing with Andy. He cooked his grilled chicken over the fire and made the best lake coffee. I’ve tried time and again to make my own lake coffee but without success. The grounds never stay in the bottom of the pot. The lake water was a cool 65 degrees. We used poppers and a clouser to lure the fish. I nabbed a two-pound pickerel and a three-and-a-half-pound bass. Despite this, Andy was frustrated that the fish were not more plentiful. He had been so upbeat in the morning when I arrived at Wheatons Lodge. He predicted, with his usual, easy smile, that “today will be the best of the season.” Andy sulks when the fish are not cooperating. He takes it personally. Sitting in the stern of his grand canoe sorting through flies he imagines the fish taking based on the small fish finder he sets up. When there are no takings he hunkers down and spreads his assortment of flies about the floor of the canoe, choosing and rejecting, trying to find the one that will turn our luck around.
The weather was overcast and the few fish we caught in the morning were the extent of our success that day. After lunch, the highlight of the day, the clouds cleared with a southwest breeze. The reflection on the lake was like a mirror image of the shoreline. I could hardly tell where one ended and the other began. The air was autumnal. Trees showed hints of orange amid the green. The quiet was deafening. I could hear myself think. The wheels in my head turned, albeit slowly. Harv, Bob and Arnie had arrived while we were out on the water. They would be at camp already when I got back. I said goodbye to Andy and we hugged. Both our protruding stomachs prevented us from getting too close. He waved as he drove off to his camp to start the annual process of closing for the season. I pulled out of Wheatons for the quiet drive home along Forest City Road. No cell service… a gift.