I often found myself beside a lake at night. Sometimes it was late evening. At other times it was in the middle of the night. It was getting harder for me to sleep through the night. And I could not determine why this was happening.
At first I thought it was being without my mother and father. I had been working on Durant’s lodges and had not been home in a long time.
Then I thought it may have been my work. I was helping to destroy these woods. I was aiding and abetting the deterioration of my beloved Adirondacks. It was so easy that I had not thought about it.
Durant hired me to help build his camps and lodges. Then when he did not want hammering and sawing to bother the visitors I became his guide. My job was to complement the ladies and teach the men how to fish.
The only saving grace was that I was still a young man. I could be proud in my work. The old men were driven to shame and disgrace. All they could do was haul the visitor’s suitcases from the stagecoach to the lodge. They were humiliated. Would that be me when I got older?
Those were my thoughts as I sat by the lake in the middle of the night. Just myself, a pipe full of tobacco, and the night sounds.
The peepers were always near. Their little throats filling with air and then “peep – – – peep.” I may not have noticed one peeper but there were hundreds of them all peeping at the same time. Jenny Mae Strout had been to New York City once. She told me that they sounded like an orchestra tuning up. She also said that the bullfrogs sounded like the tuba during the tuning session. I don’t know – – – never heard one; tuba that is, heard plenty of bullfrogs.
Then there is always an owl someplace within shouting distance. Some of them hoot and it is quite pleasant; “hoot – – – hoot” – – – then silence for a little bit before the next “hoot – – – hoot.”
His cousin, the screech owl, lets you know when he is around also; but not in a pleasant manner. He sounds like the belt screeching on an old buzz-saw when it gets bound-up. It does not sound scary but it does grate on your ears.
The loon; at first he sounds mournful. But when I got to know him he was just another lonely being sitting on the lake. When there is a slight wind the waves pick up and he bobs up and down, sometimes disappearing. Then his wailing allows me to find him again.
After the waves are done with him they come and visit me. Slap – – – slap – – – slap – – – against an old log or a large rock.
It is soothing and soon my pipe is out. Time for sleeping.