Camp Beginnings

April 2022

It is early April and in my small corner of the world, my friends and family all know I have only one thing on my mind: fishing camp. Darcy, the daughter of my camp neighbor-carpenter-fishing guide ­buddy Greg, sent me a photo of her latest ice fishing catch on East Grand Lake. She said the ice is at its thickest, some four feet, and the fishing end of March has been the best all winter. Darcy would know. She, Greg and Katie have been ice fishing at camp for 35 years, at least since Darcy was born down the road in Danforth. Greg and his partner Jimmie are putting the finishing touches on a new home office ­studio-fly-tying-library cabin. It is our joint design to keep me out of Patti’s way in the main house and a place where the sounds of the computer and printer are not bothersome at all hours. I also selfishly wanted a place to have a fly-tying setup as well as my painting easel available at my whim. I also plan to ship north many of the books I have accumulated in my East Hampton library since the early 1970s. I figure when the time comes, and it will, my kids can have a great evening bonfire in the open pit and get rid of Dad’s damn books which he would never part with all these years.

My first planned trip north this year is scheduled for mid-May. I spend a few days traveling through Bangor to the Restigouche Lodge in Canada to fish for salmon. I am staying at camp on the trip up and on the return. Seems the distance from Bangor to the salmon lodge is some six hours driving. It is also an excuse to get on the dock for a morning of fishing with a fresh brew in my hand. Nothing beats that.

Over the next month, Greg and Katie will be texting about the mice in the fireplace. I know my little four-legged friends must complain when Katie comes through with her vacuum cleaner, clearing them out of the fireplace and the sofa cushions where they have been comfortably embedded all winter.

As the snow continues to melt the lawn miraculously comes to life. Greg hauls in topsoil to fill in the ridges created by the early spring mud on the lake side. Katie will go to her plant shop for flower bed annuals in an array of colors. They will brighten up the little gardens now buried under rocks and snow. The bird feeders will be replenished for the arrival of the feathered friends whose sweet song announces the arrival of spring in northern Maine. We also have a family of ducks who find their way to our cove year after year, always turning up for camp opening. They are the welcome home committee. Katie keeps a bag of bread bits and ends for them.

By far the best early morning time, aside from feeding the ducks and casting a fly rod that first morning, is sitting on the edge of the dock with my feet dangling in the water, eyes closed, taking in spring: the scent of just-bloomed flowers, the sounds of birds and small animals scurrying over the rocks near shore, the trees swaying gently in the wind from the northeast, the occasional fishing boat trolling in the distance, the water lapping on the edge of the dock. The water quiet.

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