Thursday, July 9, 2015

Waiting in Paradise

Confession: I have allowed myself get annoyed over all the recent waiting (not idle waiting but active waiting, as in doing everything needed and depending on someone else to do something) for the next phase of excavation and concrete for “the barn” construction to proceed. Mud season has departed (mostly) and all the big guys who move logs are busy. So we wait to move up the list so we can get some space cleared that wasn’t first envisioned in the first go-around of the logging. (It’s pretty hard to discern subtle differences in gradients when you are in thick forest.) It took me just a little rearrangement of my attitude to remember I am waiting in such a beautiful place. Blame it on the paint fumes and too much heavy lifting of boxes.

View looking north to Mount Cardigan. All photos by author. 
D and I have been official New Hampshire residents (driver’s license, car tags, PO box, the whole shebang) more than one month now. But it wasn’t until Sunday that we got out to test the waters nearby in a canoe. D popped the green Bell Chestnut Prospector tandem on top of the car, we grabbed a few paddles and PFDs, and we were off. After 20 minutes on a gravel road, we arrived at Grafton Pond, which encompasses 319 acres with depths up to 60 feet. (I’m not sure why it is called a pond; apparently it is a regional thing. For example, in New Jersey, Lake Carnegie, home to Princeton Crew, covers 262 acres. D tells me the area of majestic, fjord-like Western Brook Pond in Newfoundland measures 5,683 acres.)

One of many small islands.

 At Grafton Pond, no gas-powered boats are allowed. People (and dogs) in canoes and kayaks, and on the occasional paddle board quickly disperse from the state-run boat launch and modest parking area to begin exploring the numerous bays and uninhabited islands. We brought a lunch and after an hour found a large isolated rock on which to perch and enjoy a break from paddling.

Lunch break
The attraction of Grafton Pond is that it is so wild and so pristine. Only a few houses are visible, and those are near the put-in. The seven miles of shoreline and surrounding land (owned by Grafton Pond Land Trust) are under the stewardship of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Friends of Grafton Pond.

Chicks getting a ride. 
Visitors to Grafton Pond take seriously the prohibitions and don’t leave behind as much as a gum wrapper. In an isolated cove we spied a large snapping turtle were able to follow quietly for a bit. Kingfishers flew back and forth across the water. We spotted a loon family (one of several who make the pond their nesting home). The female had two chicks so close to her they were almost imperceptible from the required viewing distance of 300 feet. (I took a discrete picture but would have needed more serious camera power to get anything better.) The male was nearby and made some protective yodels. For two hours on what must have been the busiest leisure weekend (July 4th), we enjoyed what we came to New Hampshire for—nature, mother to all.

Posted at boat launch.

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